WOMEN

SCS

Nivedita Chopra Alum Bio

Nivedita is a software engineer at Facebook and works on the Internal Tools team & graduated from SCS in 2015. While at CMU, she really enjoyed TA'ing 15-122, writing & copy editing for The Tartan as well as contributing to various Women@SCS programs.

Interview with Nivedita

With just a few weeks left of my time at Carnegie Mellon, life feels a little weird. Late night Entropy runs, free cookies and pizza, and a perpetual lack of sleep will soon be history. And I’m going to miss the place that has become my home.

Reflecting back on my four years at CMU brings back a flood of memories — of work and play. As far as classes go, my fondest memories are those where I was collaborating with my peers — be it working on 251 problems, making cool web apps, or writing a compiler. Collaborating with others made me more confident about my abilities, and together we did things that may have been impossible alone. And that’s my first big takeaway from my college experience — collaborating on a hard problem produces better results, and is much more fun than doing it alone.

I came to Carnegie Mellon because it has the best computer science program in the world. And I did learn a lot of computer science. More importantly, I learned some important life lessons. It’s no secret that the classes at CMU are a lot of hard work. As someone who is used to hard work, as the work piled on, I’d tell myself to simply 'work harder.’ But the secret, as my dad told me when I was a kid, is to ‘work smarter, not harder.’ I learned this the hard way. In the spring of my junior year, I took two very hard classes, in addition to being a lead teaching assistant (TA) and being involved in a lot of activities. As a result of over-work and stress, I fell very ill for ten days before finals week. I didn’t do well in my classes that semester, and frankly, I can’t remember very much of what I learned in them. Had I done the smart thing of taking on less work rather just pushing myself harder, I wouldn’t be faced with the regret of not learning some very interesting things. This is how college taught me an important life lesson — assess and respect your limits, and then work smarter, not harder.

College hasn’t just been about the school work. The activities that I was involved in during college have been defining experiences. Activities that I stuck with throughout college — TA’ing, writing and copy editing for The Tartan, and Women@SCS activities — are things I’ll remember the most when I look back on these four years. Hackathons, puzzle hunts, conferences ... all taught me the value of trying new things.

Last, but not least, I’ve realized that college is about people and relationships. I’ve forged friendships that will last because we’ve gone through so much together. I’ve learned that my teachers are just like me, only wiser from years of experience that they’re glad to share. I learned that when you care for people and treat them fairly and well, they reciprocate and everyone feels good as a result.

So, as I step into the real world, I feel proud, confident, well prepared and comfortable ... ready to take on new challenges.

Words of Wisdom