Neeti Kothari was born into a finance-minded family in Chennai, India. “They’re all tax accountants or CPAs,” she says. “My dad is an auditor, so of course, if your dad is an auditor, your son or daughter will be, too.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from her hometown Stella Maris College, Kothari landed an audit assistant job at Big Four accounting firm Deloitte in Hyderabad, India, where she worked for three-plus years.
“I enjoyed working at Deloitte, but I slowly analyzed myself and realized that finance is not the thing I want to do 100%,” says Kothari, who talked to a mentor about attending graduate school. He suggested studying business analytics — a fast-growing field with potential career paths in areas such as marketing, health care and logistics — at one of the many universities in the Boston area.
“At this age, after three years of work, you don’t expect to change your entire field and go to an environment where you’re starting again,” she says. “Many people told me, ‘Don’t do it,’ but I just felt it was right.”
After months of research, UMass Lowell emerged as her top choice. A big reason was a connection Kothari made on LinkedIn with Caroline Nguma ’19, a Master of Science in Business Analytics alum who “wrote to me a lot and really helped me,” she says.
Kothari arrived in Lowell in January 2020 for the start of the spring semester. “The first two months were beautiful. I experienced college life and got to know my professors,” says Kothari, who became a part-time research and teaching assistant for Asst. Prof. of Management Elana Feldman — two days before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the campus.
Kothari finished the semester online from Lowell, eventually returning to India while taking courses remotely. She also began applying for more than 200 data analyst internships for the summer of 2021, getting an interview with PTC, a Boston-based software company, at 2 a.m. local time.
“I was so prepared. I had my coffee all ready,” says Kothari, who returned to Lowell in January and learned she had gotten the internship a month later. She immediately emailed Feldman and Business Dean Sandra Richtermeyer to thank them for their guidance and support.
“They have been there since the start of my journey, keeping me motivated,” she says. “You really need that when you are away from your family and doing it on your own.”
 The PTC internship, which is expected to be a hybrid of remote and in-person work, will give Kothari a chance to explore several fields, including Big Data and marketing analytics. “It’s exactly what I was looking for,” she says. “I’m looking forward to learning, growing and developing my skills as an analyst.”
She hopes to land a job in the Boston area after completing her degree in December.
“I don’t know what the future holds, but I definitely want to experience life here in normalcy” after the pandemic is over, she says.