A horsecart racing
Imagine the walls squeezing me from both sides. That's how writing the Master's Thesis felt like. Lisbon, Portugal. 12 April 2023.

My university life came to an end on a random Monday morning. That is such a strange feeling. I have never been out of “school” – not since I can remember. Sure, “schools” changed – from dilapidated structure of bamboo walls and tin roofs to spaceship-looking library. It has been quite the journey.

I’m immensely grateful, and calm knowing better things will come my way. In this essay, I’ll review the courses I took during the $4^{th}$ semester at WU, in keeping up with the tradition. If you need context about what I just said, read my Review of 3rd Semester courses at WU.

I took only four courses during the $4{th}$ semester (Mar 2023 to Jun 2023). The difficulty level ($1-5$) is quite subjective, and solely based on my experience. $1$ represents a straightforward course while $5$ represents a challenging course.

Courses

$4^{th}$ Semester

Personal Skills - I: Company Building
Managing the Cybersecurity Function
Master’s Thesis
Thesis Defence


Personal Skills - I: Company Building. This short course aimed to teach how to build a company from the ground up. It focussed on rapid ideation, and seeing product-market fit rather than going in-depth about fundraising, and other aspects of company building. The course was rather informal, in that I did not even remember that we had a final presentation until the morning of the final class.

We had a group presentation, which meant it was super relaxed, with everyone contributing a bit of what they know, and that was it. Even though the course was relaxed, we had hands-on sessions where we explored a bit of the landscape, but I suspect by that point, almost everyone was waiting to be done with their Master’s thesis, and go for their sweet summer vacations.

The course wasn’t difficult at all; I had to take it because it was part of the list of courses I’m required to take. I wonder if I’d have taken it at all had I not been required to take it.

I did learn some things from the course – not every idea is worth pursuing, you need people rooting for you for your company to succeed, and PPTs can hide your weaknesses only until a certain extent.

Difficulty: 1

Managing the Cybersecurity Function. As the name of the course suggests – the course teaches cybersecurity through a mix of in-class presentations, case discussions, few written assignments and a final simulation game.

The assignments were fun. You could tell, right?

Only four people signed up for the course. So, instead of being run like a traditional course where the lecturer lectures, and the rest of the class participates, the course was run like a seminar, with free-flowing arguments, albeit with some structure. I loved it – I had to prepare for the classes, and got enough time to express my thoughts. Truth be told, I kind of started missing the case study method we had at IIMA.

I learnt quite a lot about cybersecurity, without getting too deep into the technical aspects. Executives who need a quick refresher on why they must invest in their cybersecurity infrastructure would find the course most useful. In fact, I felt that it was too watered down, given my technical background. The discussions were fruitful, however.

It was interesting to learn how disputes between sovereign nations play out in the cyber arena. For a moment I thought I’d enroll myself in an international relations degree and extend my stay in the EU, until I realized I was living on borrowed time. Needless to say, I loved the class.

Difficulty: 2 (does require some effort in the assignments but nothing one can’t get through)

Master’s Thesis. Truthfully, completing the master’s thesis might be the hardest thing I did in my academic journey thus far. Submitting the final draft, starting from a bunch of vague ideas, after months of getting nowhere felt like a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. I had sleepless nights thinking I’ll have to drop out if I cannot hand in my thesis, thus losing everything I worked towards. In my doomsday nightmare, I only had a B.Tech from IIT Kanpur, while the MBA from IIMA, and the MSc from WU remained unfinished. That did not happen, fortunately.

I wrote my thesis on “Exploring the impact of internet access on education and poverty reduction: A case study of India.” In retrospect, I feel the scope of the thesis was too broad, as well as vague for the time I had in hand. However, I’m quite happy about how it turned out.

getting goosebumps writing the last few words for my thesis. i kinda know what it means: that India as a country has so much potential to do good for our people, and that my study is going to come to an end on a random afternoon and I’m going to cry about it. – I tweeted this some time ago.

I do think India has so much potential. I wish to contribute my part in building this beautiful place I call home. I do not know how or when. But, doing something worthwhile over my lifetime would be good feeling to die with.

Honestly, my advisor deserves a lot of credit for letting me work at my own pace. Turns out moving countries isn’t an easy thing to do. She understood this, and always supported me in completing the thesis. Any shortcomings, and errors are mine.

If my Electrical Engineering degree taught me never to go into Electrical Engineering again, writing this thesis taught me that the life of a PhD might be something worth skipping in this lifetime. However, as is the case with everything in life, you never know.

Difficulty: 5

Thesis Defence. Writing the thesis made me sleepless. Finishing the Thesis Defence brought so much sleep, I cannot possibly describe it here. I could see more clearly. Instead of dropping out, I’m going to have 3 respectable (by some yardstick) degrees to show for whatever I did since childhood.

The defense was rather easy. That is because I just had to describe what I did and present the relevant results. Seeing as I struggled over the last several months, it was quite easy for me to describe my work. I had to record a ten-minute video, answering two questions, and that was it.

If I recall correctly, I did the defense at around 5 or 6 in the morning, and went to sleep as the bird started chirping and people began their day. Completing the thesis defense also meant something else – that I did my part of the work. And now it was upto the grade Gods to grade it Pass/Fail. The rest of the paperwork such as credit transfer, processing of the graduation documents etc. was not on me.

Of course, you cannot pass the thesis without the defence, and you have nothing to defend if you did not finish writing your master’s thesis.

Difficulty: 1


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