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Fair warning: This is more like a journal entry.

As I sat in the term paper presentations in my Energy Economics course listening to Ketav Mehta and Aakash Jhaveri presenting their work on “Electricity Demand and Forecasting”, I noticed that they both had been selected for McKinsey (Mumbai office) as Business Analysts. They had a quite beautifully made presentation showing various bar graphs and pie charts, covering various methods of forecasting electricity demand. I wondered if I would like to make such presentations and care about them so much in my life. To give a little perspective, I had also been selected for McKinsey (Gurgaon office) as a Risk Analyst, a specialized version of the usual Management Consulting profile. Hence that particular exercise would be involved in my job as well. However, if one was to read my presentation (which I had made along with Adwaitvedant Mathkar and Abhinav Chikhalkar) the fact that it was more hardboiled and research-like and less elegant was highly conspicuous. It was more of MATLAB and less of MS Excel (both are great tools no doubt, but MATLAB certainly has a more nerdy appeal). It was more of line graphs and no fancy pie charts. This directed my natural train of thought towards a pertinent question: Am I doing the right thing by taking up the job which I had? The dilemma will become clear as I explain my situation below.

I had a PhD (Computer Engineering) offer from Viterbi School of Engineering at University of Southern California which I turned down. On the other hand, ever since I had done an introductory course in Economics in my sophomore year, I was hooked. I could not pursue it in depth since my major was Electrical Engineering which also piqued my interest. And then I took Energy Economics again in my final year which rejuvenated that sophomore crush. The job I had accepted gives me an opportunity to get closer to it, study a limited aspect and then pursue a full-time degree. In my (limited) research about the exit options from the company, this had not been pursued so far. Employees generally switch jobs or pursue MBA. But it can be done.

On one pan of the balance machine lays my dream of studying Economics and becoming someone important and on the other, speaking and doing things which I do not really love to pursue the same. Of course, presentation is just a part of the job but its focus and importance in respective areas speaks about the nuances of academic research and job. Moreover, I am ditching a perfectly stable relationship with Electrical Engineering to conquer the fiesty field that is Economics.

I say the dilemma is pretty clear now, although the answer is not and the path is hazy at best. I guess this is a leap of faith which one must take in their lives.
No one can tell anyone what is good or perfect for them.
Envision, explore. Only time will tell if the dream eludes or if I escalate.

Maybe I will write a retrospective post few years later, and might get to quote Pursuit of Happyness.

To sum it up, I guess I see two roads diverging in a yellow wood.

Akshat KharayaB. Tech. + M. Tech., Electrical Engineering
IIT Bombay