Infinite Careers is a new collaboration between Career Services (CAPD) and the MIT Alumni Association to explore career paths and the non-linearity of career decision making. Read profiles of alumni with unique career paths, hear their stories and network at a series of talks.
Register here to hear Anurupa speak on Wednesday, October 30th at 6pm.
BS Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, 2007
MIT M.Eng, 2009
Anurupa Ganguly serves as the Director of Mathematics and Engineering at Success Academy Charter Schools. She and her team are currently building a next-generation high school Math, Physics, Engineering, and Computer Science curriculum. The curricular approach is task-based and exposes students to current issues that can be examined and solved with STEM tools while cultivating social responsibility.
These interdisciplinary problems create the conditions for scholars to pose and pursue rich and often socially relevant questions, develop their own approaches to solve these problems, constantly make sense of the concepts and skills they are learning and build fluency over time. As an engineer turned educator, she is particularly committed to the transformation of the K-12 experience to one that equips historically underserved students and their teachers with the beliefs, skills and resolve to support students’ success in post-secondary STEM, which continues to suffer the lack of diverse participation even today.
Anurupa began her teaching career in the Boston Public Schools (BPS) as a Physics and Mathematics teacher where she was inspired to re-envision the training and development of urban mathematics teachers. After spending two years in Mumbai, India, recruiting high quality teachers, developing teacher PD to provide students a more conceptually rigorous Math education, and integrating the principles of the CCSS-Mathematics into the Indian context of curriculum and instruction, Anurupa returned to the Boston Public Schools to head the Secondary Mathematics office.
She later served as the Senior Director of Teaching and Learning at the NYC DOE. She now lives in Brooklyn, NYC. She holds a BS and M.Eng in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT, and EdM in Curriculum and Teaching from Boston University.
What influenced your choice of undergraduate major? How has it shaped your career choices and professional ability?
I studied Electrical Engineering, and though I don't use discipline-specific concepts on a daily basis, the systematic ability to modularize an ostensibly overwhelming problem statement and solve it one piece at a time, and seamlessly toggle between abstraction and physical, have been key to creative problem solving. On the ground, my curriculum developers are building a next-generation high school Engineering program. My experience of what is needed to succeed in a program like MIT's gives me the perspective and expertise I need to make sure that students not only get ahead on their 1st year college coursework in high school, so that they can hit the ground running in university, but that they also develop into resilient and ingenious problem-solvers early on.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently or more of while you were at MIT?
I wish that I had taken advantage of the rich offerings at MIT across the Engineering, Physics, Policy and Economics departments. I was stuck in my department and more worried about "doing well" rather than getting exposed to different fields of study and what I could learn from them to apply to my own discipline. Sustainable problem solving is inherently holistic, and I could have done a better job sharpening my lens from multiple angles.
What motivates you to do the work that you do?
K-12 Education is starved of top STEM talent because it's not the most lucrative choice in the market, but it has huge potential to offer choice and agency to our youngest students and change their trajectory despite economic backgrounds or past experiences. I have conviction that if we create a more hands-on problem-driven approach to STEM subjects in high school for our most vulnerable and historically underserved students, more of them will be inspired and prepared to study and contribute to these fields in college, growing and diversifying its applications through their careers. I really do believe that a better Math education is going to save our Democracy
Making decisions, especially important-feeling career decisions, can be challenging. What strategies have you used to make career decisions?
Exposure exposure exposure! In order to make a decision, one has to know what all is possible. And unfortunately, many of our majors often track us into particular careers. Though, it's important to understand all the different industries and what they seek to achieve, you must also ask yourself the question: what human problem do YOU want to commit to solving? It can be easy to get swayed by the most popular destinations post college, or certain salary packages. However, it's important to look at the world in 2019, and ask yourself what you want to see differently in the world, and why? And examine which career path will be the highest lever to enacting that change. Even if that takes you away from "what you studied" in college. An education from MIT will set you up with the skills and competencies to succeed in any field, but you must pick the right one as per your mission.
What professional development experiences or opportunities shaped your early career?
Reading “The Economist” cover to cover every week when I first graduated :) Also, whether it's the DISC survey or Meyers Briggs, spending time early on to understand what type of a worker you are and how you interact with others in the workplace to get things done. It will save you a lot of time later diagnosing inter and intra personal issues holding you back from producing your best work.
What professional development activities do you find useful these days?
I have a bi-weekly meeting with five other women who are powerful leaders in other industries. We meet to discuss issues we are having, get a range of perspectives on possible solutions, learn about resources, and how others solve problems across sectors. Talking to other leaders will constantly spawn new ideas and give you inspiration. Start these networks early on, and learn through discussing and reading as much as you can! Even about issues outside your industry.
Do you have any tips for networking or job searching for current students and recent graduates?
The MIT network is robust, diverse and very friendly. Connect with people, talk to them about what they do and why they do it. It'll help you dig and construct meaning about what you'd like to contribute and how.
What do you like to do outside of work for fun/relaxation/inspiration?
I travel abroad 4-5 times/year. I love encountering different ways of being, cultures, and deepening my understanding of how the world came to be today. I also love to sing and perform amongst friends. I have continued my study of North Indian Classical Music, which it turns out, is highly mathematical as well!