Alumni Interview with Ankush Gadodia, Senior Modem Systems Test Engineer at Qualcomm

  1. You have been working in Qualcomm for more than 5 years. Could you please tell us about your work experience in Qualcomm?

I work in Qualcomm as a Senior Modem Systems Test Engineer in the IMS (IP Multimedia System) Team. As part of IMS, we work on VoLTE, VoWiFi, RCS, Presence, Auto-configuration and my area of specialization is SIP and IMS Registration with handovers between VoLTE and VoWiFi. I joined the team at a time when the popularity of IMS was picking up and VoLTE was still to be commercially deployed. Working in a feature team at such a time is really challenging but one gets to learn and grow as well. Being the IMS Registration POC, my role requires me to go through various SIP RFCs, IR92 specs and requirements of different operators. I need to ensure that we comply to various operator requirements and that any new feature or enhancement is thoroughly tested. I also contribute during design discussions for new features to make sure that we consider all possible scenarios and come up with the best possible solution.    

  1. Were there any perks you could avail being a UMD Telecom graduate while searching for full-time opportunities?

Being an alum of a reputed university like UMD is definitely a plus. Our Telecommunications program is popular in the technology market and managers and recruiters trust the technical expertise of students graduating from our program. I personally saw this in Qualcomm when a majority of my batch, close to 40 people, were hired in the same year. Being from UMD doesn’t guarantee you a job but it does add credibility to your knowledge and degree.

  1. There are a lot of certifications in the market for wireless, networking as well as cloud computing domain. How important do you think  these certifications are for recruitment ?

I personally don’t have any certifications but I think they add value and complement our degree. They will add credibility to the skillset one has. One word of caution though- don’t just do a certification just to add something to your profile; do it if you feel that this is the domain you want to be in and this will help develop your knowledge and skills in that particular domain. Ultimately, it’s your skills and what you learned out of it that will matter.

  1. Is there any advice you want to give to current ENTS batch regarding the course selection and job hunt ?

Course selection is tough especially when the seats in a course are limited, so do some good research about the courses that interest you, speak to seniors and professors so that you have an idea whether that course interests you and have a plan. If wireless is your field, don’t overburden your coursework with networking courses or vice-versa. For people keeping an open mind, a good mix should be great. And it’s always good to have an extra course in mind in case you fail to get your first choice. Also, my suggestion would be to not unnecessarily try and take more courses than what you can handle.

“Patience” – that’s one thing most of us need during the strenuous job hunt process, especially in such competitive times. It takes time for things to become favorable; just hang in there and stay positive and confident.

  1. Being an international student, the set of companies you can apply to gets smaller as you have to look for companies that provide you visa sponsorship.  Could please  tell us how you proceeded with the job search process?

Yes, this gets pretty tricky. The first thing I did was to shortlist a list of some big telecommunication companies which hire a number of immigrants, like Qualcomm or Apple. Networking is one more thing that helped. I made a list of companies my seniors were working for and researched about them. Linkedin is a great resource for this as well.

  1. With 5G on the horizon, which technology areas in the wireless domain do you foresee being crucial in the coming years?

IOT is the future. 5G and IOT will take wireless into all sectors, from healthcare to automotive, from sports to industries. With so much connectivity and data generation, Cloud Computing and Security have a very large role to play.

  1. Which technical concepts and tools have been vital and commonly used by you so far in your career?

Being in IMS, concepts of SIP, TCP and VoIP are critical for my day-to-day job. Most of the tools we use are proprietary log analysis tools but we use Wireshark a lot. A good Data Layer and wireless knowledge helps as well.

  1. Has there been a difference in the theoretical concepts you learnt in school and their implementation in the industry? If yes, how do you overcome that gap?

The best way to bridge this gap is to work on projects where you can practically apply the theories and yes, you learn as you work. The concepts we learn in school do stand true in the industry but their usage varies, making a connection between the two is what matters. Also in the industry, it is not enough to know if a solution works, it is important to find the best possible one; two or more solutions can be theoretically right but the optimal solution will depend on the conditions.

  1. In your opinion, outside the wireless domain, which technical skill set are important in the industry?

Well, I guess we all hear this often, fast and continuous learning is a key. We are seeing the industry moving fast towards 5G, VR, automation, cloud, IOT, AI and what not. The appetite to learn and work on new things and also imagine new possibilities will definitely take you a long way. But at the same time, it is very much important to not be overwhelmed by all this and to take one step at a time. Along with this, good analytic skills will be helpful in this industry where we have so much data to process. Analyzing available data and finding ways to improve and innovate will be very fruitful.