Alumni Feature: Geetha Aradhyula – Her Impactful UofM Graduate School Experience

Geetha AradhyulaMeet Geetha Aradhyula, from India, and a University of Memphis graduate with an MS in Computer Science from the class of 2007. Aradhyula is a Senior Technical Program Manager at Phenom, a rapidly expanding global HR technology company specializing in a unified AI-powered SaaS platform. She leads a team of developers and QA/integration engineers. Additionally, Geetha oversees designing technical implementation strategies, overseeing architecture, roadmaps, value propositions, data pipelines, scaling, deployment to AWS cloud, and managing development milestones and program governance. She has a deep passion for technology and thrives on collaborating with others to tackle challenges.

Outside of her professional life, Geetha enjoys extensive traveling, backpacking, delving into history books, exploring both traditional and modern art, spending quality time with her family, and embarking on treks.

The Journey to Memphis

Initially, her primary motivation was to step out of her comfort zone and leave the familiarity of home behind. Life had been straightforward, easy, and comfortable, and she felt it was time to hone the skills she had acquired and advance her career. Pursuing graduate school and building the career she had always envisioned were her aspirations. After shortlisting four universities and meeting the required admission scores, she discovered that UofM's Computer Science department offered courses in Cyber Security, Network Security, and Information Assurance. Connecting with professors and advisors at UofM helped her make an informed decision about her academic path.

Cherished memories at UofM

Reflecting on her time at the University of Memphis, Geetha Aradhyula recalls the profound impact of gaining independence while studying abroad and being on campus. Adjusting to life away from India, she embraced the responsibility of managing her time, finances, and workload, which empowered her personal growth and confidence. Choosing UofM for her graduate studies was a challenging yet rewarding decision that opened doors to numerous opportunities.

Among her cherished memories at UofM:
  • Securing the prestigious Information Security Internship at FedEx Services in Collierville during her final semester which led to a full-time position for the next 7 years.
  • She credits Dr. Lan Wang, Dr. Stan Franklin, Dr. Lee McCauley, and Dr. Dipankar Dasgupta for making a significant impact on her journey as a graduate student.
  • Her graduation day stands out as a surreal experience. All the hard work, late nights in the lab, studying, and preparing presentations culminated in that unforgettable moment. Hearing her name called and receiving her graduate degree from Dr. Shirley Raines, the then-president of UofM, remains an unparalleled memory for Geetha.Geetha Aradhyula
From Classroom to Career: How UofM Shaped My Professional Journey

Geetha Aradhyula credits her graduate education at UofM for equipping her with the essential skills for a seamless transition from academia to the professional world. The interpersonal skills and teamwork abilities she honed on campus have been invaluable in her interactions with colleagues. Moreover, her critical thinking Geetha Aradhyulaand problem-solving skills have empowered her to analyze information, pay attention to details, and tackle complex issues confidently in her job.

Specifically, many of her capstone courses directly aligned with her job responsibilities. Courses like Network Security and AI were particularly relevant to her final project and contributed to her securing an InfoSec internship at FedEx's Security Assessments and Forensics group and Application and Data Security groups. Geetha applied the concepts she learned to optimize code for enhanced security, resulting in fewer server disruptions and reduced maintenance costs. Through her experiences, she gained insights into the importance of industry compliance policies for large corporations and the collective power of teamwork, emphasizing that every role, regardless of size, offers learning and growth opportunities.

3 Valuable Skills for a Successful Graduate Education Journey: 
  1. Do an internship (or as many as you can). If you have a degree and work experience, you will have an easier time finding a job later.
  2. Learn to work in groups early on. People skills are mandatory because if you are going to work as a Software Engineer, you have to read other people's code. So, if you develop your communication skills early on, things will be a lot better work-wise or in real life.
  3. Network. If you have an opportunity, join meetups, attend hackathons, and any other events that can put you in touch with key people in the industry or recruiters. Make some business cards and make sure to give them out during campus job fairs. Lastly, have a well-formatted resume, simple and crisp (1-2 pages). If you have the financial bandwidth, hire the services of a professional resume writer.
3 Challenges She Overcame
  1. She struggled initially with balancing academic responsibilities in the new environment. Quickly realizing the importance of prioritization and setting boundaries, she learned to say 'no' to certain commitments when feeling overwhelmed, essential for maintaining a healthy balance and reducing stress.
  2. Managing the intense workload, rigorous coursework, and meeting both self-imposed and parental expectations caused her significant stress. However, she gradually overcame this by implementing study strategies, seeking assistance when necessary, and prioritizing her overall well-being.
  3. To reduce stress, she prioritized self-care and made deliberate efforts to maintain her health. Utilizing the excellent gym facilities at UofM, she engaged in regular workouts, which boosted her confidence and enhanced her mental well-being.
4 Guiding Principles for Fellow Graduate StudentsGeetha Aradhyula
  1. Seeking help is perfectly acceptable. There were instances when she grappled with assignments or class concepts, and reaching out to a professor or a senior proved invaluable. She came to understand that asking for assistance doesn't indicate weakness; rather, it demonstrates a willingness to learn and evolve.
  2. Networking with fellow students on campus was initially daunting, especially within the computer science community. However, after settling in, she realized that everyone was navigating the curriculum together. Learning from seniors and peers became instrumental, highlighting the significance of both professional and social networking. Many professors have industry connections that can facilitate internships or post-graduation opportunities, underscoring the importance of networking as a valuable skill for future endeavors.
  3. Exploring opportunities beyond academics is essential. UofM offers numerous avenues such as joining societies, clubs, or pursuing new hobbies. These experiences provide a platform to discover personal interests and passions.
  4. Lastly, she emphasizes the importance of embracing failure without fear. While intimidating initially, failure serves as a profound teacher, propelling individuals to greater heights when lessons are learned from it.