Carnegie Mellon University

Jagannath Saragadam (MSE–SS 2020) credits his time in the MSE Professional Programs for helping him to develop skills he used to navigate three pivotal points in his career: his internship at the start-up Kloudio, his return upon graduation, and its acquisition by Alation

Making the Most of the Internship Experience

“My internship with Kloudio was a great experience.The learning curve was steep  since the start-up was in a rapidly changing domain and wanted to ship new features quickly and be first to market. The MSE program really helped me to take ownership of the tasks I was responsible for and, at the same time, try to improve upon other areas. For example, there were processes that were manual and thus very time consuming and prone to human error. I took the initiative to automate those processes because I genuinely felt the frustration of going through the process every time I wanted to deploy something. 

“I think the MSE broadened this mindset in me where you don’t have to look to someone to give you a task, but rather to keep in mind the amount of bandwidth you have and the tasks that are assigned to you.“

A Return Offer

Upon graduation from the MSE,  Jagannath received a return offer from Kloudio and an offer from a large multinational corporation. The decision was easy. “I felt that I would have the opportunity to contribute more, and be more visible, at a small company than at a large corporation.”

Jagannath was able to use the  knowledge he acquired in the MSE-SS program and apply his skills  directly to his new role. “As much as we all dreaded the presentations for course projects and the capstone projects, and how difficult they were, being able to communicate effectively with many different types of stakeholders was really what helped me get up to speed when I joined Kloudio full-time. I was able to explain to clients the limitations and possibilities of a project, explaining timelines to management and asking for more resources. Having team projects in the MSE program made up for my lack of full-time experience.” 

Big Changes and Exciting Opportunities

Less than a year into his full-time employment, Alation offered to acquire Kloudio. When the due diligence process began, Jagannath’s manager asked him to “present about the product and answer questions. [Alation’s acquisition team] provided a list of questions they wanted us to address: what was our testing coverage, what was our quality assurance, how did we do deployments, how did we ensure bug fixes or critical fixes were posted through. The first thing I noticed, when I saw the list, was that it was exactly what we were expected to address in our project presentations [in the MSE]. I told my boss that I had done this very thing so many times that it wouldn’t be a problem for me to present to the acquisition team.

“Engineers can have a very myopic view of the process and may not understand what the customer’s needs really are. Usually, in a larger company, it is the Product Manager’s responsibility to assign tasks to the engineers after having done the research with the customers. But it was very helpful for me, as a Software Engineer, to be able to talk directly with our customers and to translate those use cases into the product. In the MSE project we were able to speak directly with the client and then translated that into requirements, you get to see the whole cycle of understanding what a client really needs and recognizing the limitations the client isn’t aware of. My ability to talk to customers helped us a lot during that process.”