Rakshita Modugu, BS’23, was the valedictorian of her high school in Hyderabad, India. But when she felt compelled into the popular local career path of civil engineering for her bachelor’s degree, she felt unmotivated. Her grades were slipping as a college freshman, and she was unhappy.
“I innately knew I wanted to study business. When I envisioned myself 10 years later, I wanted to be an entrepreneur. So, what am I doing in civil engineering? But I was 19. It was a big ask to my parents to send me to the United States to study business and finance. It was a hard decision,” said Rakshita. “I came to IUPUI in 2019. I was super ambitious because I was coming all the way from India and my parents were paying for me to come without a scholarship. I had to maximize my investment here and I wanted to go back to the person I used to be in school; ambitious and engaged.”
Rakshita found her new home in the Undergraduate Program at the Kelley School of Business Indianapolis. She became active in student organizations as the director of marketing for TEDxIUPUI and began peer mentoring other students and tutoring classmates in Excel. Rakshita learned about the Conexus Case Competition and joined a team of senior business students.
“I had to step up as a leader because case competitions require a lot of responsibility—you solve a whole case in just three days. We won second place!” Rakshita said. “The judges were proud of our work and connected us to Caterpillar to present our findings to the company. Through this, I connected with Operations Professor Mohan Tatikonda, who introduced me to another startup, an augmented reality/virtual reality/extended reality startup, that was hiring blog writers. I interviewed and got the job. This was my second job with a startup, after working as a growth strategist for a crypto-based fintech app.”
Even when the COVID-19 pandemic occurred a year into her studies at Kelley, it did not disrupt Rakshita’s tireless networking. She continued making introductions through virtual meetings and stayed active on LinkedIn. After returning from an internship in Sacramento, Rakshita was presented with the opportunity to help revive the campus Entrepreneurship Club. She says one of the club’s best events was a Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) panel she directed using what she learned at Kelley and at her internship.
“Several Kelley professors agreed to join our panel. These were great people, and I could not have the room empty. It was a lot of work, and I was also working part-time as an account executive at an IT company. I had to manage work, school, and this event for a month,” said Rakshita, who looks forward to being promoted to chief business officer later this year. “It contributed to my leadership skills in ways that I didn’t expect. I had to be creative about marketing, getting a team to deliver on time, assigning tasks, coordinating people, and keeping them motivated. I’m a finance major, but this club gave me a good understanding of how marketing works and how to handle people. It helped me become more assertive, and the event was very successful.”
Rakshita says the greatest takeaway she’s had from her lessons at Kelley was through I-Core, or Integrated Core. This hands-on, semester-long, group project requires students to apply all aspects of their business education to solve a real-world challenge. Rakshita says the collaborative work helped her become a better teammate and she earned skills she applies directly to her current job.
“Kelley is particular about putting us into groups and collaborating with different personalities, which helped me a lot. I talk to a lot of clients to understand their needs, and my finance degree has helped me gain a deeper understanding of how business modeling and operations work,” Rakshita said. “I-Core and the supply chain coursework from Operations Professor Vicki Daniels tremendously contributed to my understanding of SaaS technology, which is helping me a lot in my current job at an IT consulting company. It would’ve been very difficult for me as a business major to catch up with the IT world if not for Vicki’s training! ”
My finance degree has helped me gain a deeper understanding of how business modeling and operations work.”
Rakshita says the faculty members at the Kelley School have been pivotal in her understanding of business and the course she is setting for her career. She’s interested in pursuing financial forecasting, raising company valuations, mergers and acquisitions, or private equity.
“I wasn’t even in his class, but Professor Tatikonda was great. I appreciate how he takes the time to reply to my emails, appreciate where I’m at, and connect me with others,” Rakshita says. “I’m currently in an Honors Leadership Seminar led by [Senior Lecturer in Management] Danny Cagnet. She listens to me and supports me. She really helped me during the DEI event, promoting it genuinely in her class. Plus, she attended the event. Kelley professors are so supportive.”
Kelley professors are so supportive.”
As she completes her undergraduate degree in business, Rakshita is grateful that she believed in herself and her vision for a future in business. She’s also been exploring her artistic side, taking painting courses at Herron School of Art, having her first art show, and starting her own business as her own creative services brand. Rakshita encourages other students—especially international students—to look beyond other people’s expectations to determine your own path.
“It was an absurd idea to abandon two years of my bachelor’s degree in India to come here and start all over again in a completely different major and country. It’s expensive. But I’m so glad I believed in myself. You have to believe in your vision, what you want, and what your instincts are telling you,” Rakshita said. “Don’t limit yourself. No matter where you’re from, you can do this.”