MBA Interview
25th Nov 2022
Afia Azmi

SOP PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara

My goals

I am applying to the University of California, Santa Barbara for admission to the Ph.D. program in Computer Science. My goal is to pursue a career in research, either in industry or in academia. Ten years from now, I envisage myself as a full-fledged research professional in an organization, or a faculty member at one of the leading universities. A Ph.D. is an important first step in achieving this objective.

My background

Though I was exposed to some aspects of Computer Science in my last two years of school, a comprehensive foundation in all the fields of Computer Science began after I entered ****. The Computer Science department at **** is indisputably among the best in the country. Its excellent courses, faculty and learning environment have given me a firm grounding in all the fields of Computer Science.

My academic and co-curricular record has been consistently good. Throughout school as well as now, I have been at or near the top of my class. My class at **** consists of 36 students, chosen from an All India exam involving 100,000 students. I myself was 9th in that exam. I have listed some of my achievements on the attached resume. I am of the opinion that research requires a firm grounding in theory backed up by an in-depth knowledge of systems and implementation. The important courses of Discrete Structures, Data Structures & Algorithms, and Theory of Computation have given me a good knowledge of theory. In addition, I am doing the course Design\Analysis of Algorithms this semester and Parallel Algorithms next semester, in order to further firm up my foundations. My performance in lab courses attests to my knowledge of systems and programming.

My strengths are my consistency, capacity for hard work, and my ability to work in a team. I have been involved in many course projects, which involved a group of students, and I have been the team leader in quite a few of these. I believe that research involves new ideas, as well as consistent effort to back them up, both of which I am capable of.

My primary interests

I prefer research problems to be an ideal mix of theory and practice. The field of {Databases} interests me because of the scope for breaking new ground, as well as the vast applications possible. I believe that {Distributed Databases}, in particular, is an area with a lot of potential. My grounding in this field is solid, which is reflected in my obtaining the best possible grade in both the courses involving Databases, namely, Business Information Systems and Database Management Systems, and in their respective labs too. Currently, I am working on my Senior Thesis under Dr. yyy, in which we are looking at the problem of Garbage Collection in Persistent Object Stores We plan to submit it for publication after running some performance tests, which we are designing. I have included details in my resume.

Why California-Santa Barbara?

Since all fields in Computer Science are highly interlinked, I want to pursue graduate studies at a University that is strong in all fields of Computer Science. I am aware that the department of Computer Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara is one of the best in the world, being particularly strong in Databases (my primary interest). Dr. yyy also recommends it highly. These facts have led me to apply to California-Santa Barbara.

There is one more and the most compelling reason. In the course of my Senior Thesis, I have come across related work by Dr. yyy. His work has interested me immensely, and I would like to participate in some of the projects he is undertaking. Subsequently I corresponded with Dr. yyy, and his encouraging reply and description of the work at the department reinforced my decision to apply.

Financial Aid

I would be fully dependent on aid to finance my graduate studies. If I were granted an assistantship, then given my long-term goals, a research assistantship would be an ideal experience for me. I have already mentioned my interest in research. I also have some experience in teaching. I have been a lecturer & demonstrator in student workshops held in various colleges in the region. I was also involved in a nationwide program, which involved teaching school children. The good response to my efforts, coupled with my prowess in dramatics, elocution & debating gives me the confidence to handle any teaching assignment.

My plans if admitted

I plan to carry on advanced study of Databases, as well as related fields e.g. Algorithms, not only through coursework but also by participating in one of the several ongoing projects. This will also give me the opportunity to contribute my bit to the understanding of the fields, which interest me so much. I am aware that the University of California, Santa Barbara expects very high standards from its students. My track record gives me the confidence that I will be able to meet those expectations. I believe that my association with the Computer Science department will be a mutually profitable one.

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