Ani Ramachandra

Students who pursue graduate school abroad face an additional set of challenges unrelated to their school work. However, our international students flourish—here's Ani's story in his own words!


My name is Ani Ramachandra. After being in the corporate HR workforce for a few years, I came to Penn State to pursue a master’s degree. I graduated from the School of LER’s human resources and employment relations (HRER) program in 2018. Prior to that, I completed my undergraduate degree in business management with a specialization in human resources at Christ College in Bangalore, India. I also have a master’s degree in economics from Karnataka State Open University. I grew up all over India–we moved about every two or three years for my dad’s job.

Why did you choose the school’s graduate program?

After I completed my undergrad studies, I worked for Goldman Sachs in their human capital management division. I was a campus recruiter first, then took a position in HR data, and have continued in that area ever since.

What drew me to the program at Penn State was that the degree is so well-rounded. I remember coming in with the misconception that the degree was labor relations intensive, but we quickly realized we had the option to pursue not only labor studies but also opportunities that would benefit us in the corporate world. I think a lot of my classmates, myself included, went the corporate route. 

The program is designed in such a way that you can transfer all the knowledge to jobs in the United States and abroad. That was very helpful because I wanted to work globally, and I see myself continuing to work in different countries. I would like to work in Silicon Valley at some point, but I also see myself working in Europe and in other parts of Asia. I the degree has really helped me be confident about my skills not only in the American context but also in the rest of the world.

One other thing that was very important to me was the diversity of the class. Since I already completed an undergraduate degree in HR, I was looking forward to gaining an international focus on HR. I was looking forward to classmates who would come from diverse academic and professional backgrounds. The program was selective; I think there were twenty or twenty-five students in my class.

Out of that group, we had a good mix of people coming from various backgrounds. The class included people with Ph.Ds., parents returning to the workforce, art students, and science students. I think that mix was extremely key for me because I wanted to work in a global setup in the corporate world. 

What was the most difficult part of being an international student? 

A challenge was transitioning back to being a student. I was used to having a paycheck at the end of the month and working with colleagues. Coming back into the world of turning in assignments and preparing for exams was an adjustment for the first few months. But the program was structured in a way that it felt like the classes were perfectly balanced each semester.

I visited the U.S. when I was working for Goldman Sachs for short-term assignments, so I had a sense of how it would be living in the U.S. I’d always lived in big cities, so I was really looking forward to living in a university town.

In State College, not only do you have the perks of living in a university town—like football weekends—but you’re also within driving distance of bigger cities like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York, Washington D.C., and Baltimore. I come from a place with no snow, so little things like being close to the university during the winter also added to my positive experience.

Tell us about what you’ve been up to since graduation and about your current position.

After I completed my studies, I went to work for a startup called Quantum Strategies. I worked as the HR manager for analytics and systems based in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.

I always wanted to immigrate to Canada, and during the pandemic, I decided it was time to make the change. In February, I moved to Toronto and got a job with Maples Group as the lead for HR data and systems. I now work out of the Montreal office. Maples Group is a fund services organization that’s headquartered in the Cayman Islands.

What advice would you give to students interested in the program?

As much as it can be challenging to get a job in the U.S. for an international student, it is not impossible. Attend career days and professional networking sessions to connect with recruiters and hiring managers. Apart from schoolwork, involve yourself in other co-curricular activities such as case competitions and professional certifications that will not only help you stand out but develop you holistically. Provide an employer with ample reasons as to how you would be an asset to them and why sponsoring your work visa will be worth it. 

Another piece of advice is that there's a lot of financial assistance available, not only through the school but also from the university. It’s important to do your research and be willing to reach out to people who can help you track down the right scholarships and financial aids.

International Student Testimonial

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