Carnegie Mellon University

After relocating to Seattle for his wife’s new job in the fall of 2018, Manish Khemchandani was able to continue to work for Yelp remotely. He soon found, however, that working remotely was challenging in ways he had not anticipated. As much as he loved his work at Yelp, he decided to seek a position with a local company. A month and a half into his new position, the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to, once again, work remotely.

This time finding a new job was not a viable solution. Instead, Manish decided to implement a practice he had learned in the MSE program as a way of mitigating his frustration with remote work. “One of the first things they taught us to do in the MSE Program was to track our time. After I graduated, I didn’t track my time until the pandemic. At one point, when I was struggling, I thought, I need focus time, I need to know how productive I am, and that I’m not just spending my time in meetings. So I started tracking my time. It has been a big help because now I know that every week 40% of my time is spent in meetings, but that means 60% of my time is spent being productive. I now review my activity at the end of the week to make sure that I am doing well and not falling behind.”

Disciplined Software Engineering Practices

This was not the first time he looked to his time in the MSE program to solve a work challenge. “In my previous job I set up a risk management process. We used to have weekly meetings where we would analyze the risks, identify the most pressing issues, and come up with mitigation strategies. That helped a lot. In my current position, we don’t have a very rigorous process, so I do my own risk management. I feel like my teammates appreciate that.”

Meet-Cute Tartan Style

Manish and Swati Priyam met in the most CMU way possible: painting the Fence. Both were incoming MSE students who had just arrived on campus and were looking to build community. “There was a Facebook post [by the Indian Graduate Student Association] saying we would paint the Fence in the colors of the Indian flag to commemorate India’s Independence Day. We both came with our roommates. Before that we had only been interacting via Facebook messages. I recognized her and Shweta Venkateswaran (MSE 2015) from their facebook posts so I went up to them and introduced myself. And before we knew it, Swati and I were very fast friends, and then soon after we were dating.”

Sharing is Caring

Manish can be seen helping others throughout the software community as a whole. Manish has participated in mock interviews for current MSE students and is a mentor with Women Who Code. “Volunteering is rewarding because I get to help others, but it also helps me as a software engineer; it keeps me on my toes. I have to prepare the lead code questions, analyze solutions, and be able to answer questions.”