Ankit Agrawal stands apart from many of his peers in the McIntire Class of ’22. That’s because his academic and professional goals took him down a different path than many others who have accepted employment positions considered more traditional choices for Commerce graduates. And though he concentrated in IT and Finance while completing a track in Quantitative Finance, he also double majored in Computer Science—the area of focus where his career journey will be starting in earnest.
When he began his first year at UVA, he was sure he’d be studying Computer Science but was keen to pursue a second major, and he had some discovering to do. Agrawal heard positive things about McIntire and thought to get a feel for the School and take some prerequisite courses.
“By the end of my first year, I knew applying to McIntire would be the right thing for me because the Commerce program’s technical knowledge and business acumen would strongly complement the software engineering background I was obtaining through my computer science degree,” he says. “Having talked with then-current McIntire students, I also achieved better insight on how the Commerce curriculum and concentrations, such as the IT concentration, could offer a valuable lens of analysis in the tech space, and open more doors for me after graduation in spaces like fintech.”
Making the Most of McIntire
Finding opportunities by taking advantage of the resources at his disposal would become one of the most important lessons that Agrawal learned while enrolled in the Commerce School.
“You never know where they’ll take you,” he says. As an example, Agrawal discusses his decision to participate in the McIntire Virginia Alumni Mentoring program, “on a whim.” He was connected with mentor Spencer Cummings (McIntire ’06, M.S. in MIT ’18), and the advisement has proven invaluable. “He has been such an influential part of my time at McIntire and UVA as a whole.”
Since that time, Agrawal points to many of the resources McIntire provided for directing him to a broader community within the University while positioning him to benefit from perspectives and guidance leading to growth beyond his expectations. He credits the School’s Associate Director of Student Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Katherine Lawrence, specifically. “Albeit having only met her this semester, she has offered such phenomenal support, and has helped me make the most of my time at McIntire,” he insists.
Outside of his professional and classroom experiences, Agrawal was involved in a wide range of student orgs, which included serving on the Junior Board and Managing Board of the independent student newspaper The Cavalier Daily, acting as a Resident Adviser, and volunteering at UVA’s LGBTQ Center. “This semester, I have gotten more involved with McIntire’s LGBTQ+ affinity group, Pride at McIntire. I have also formerly been involved in Class Council, Madison House, and the Queer Student Union,” the Ashburn, VA, native says.
In addition to his ties across the University, his fellow Comm students also played an important part in his academic journey. He remarks that his Integrated Core group formed a tight-knit group that helped to define his third and fourth years.
“Having started Comm in the fall 2021 semester, much of my third year was shaped by COVID-19. Yet, even with our untraditional ICE experience, we still found ways to safely form friendships and a community that has made a tremendous impact during my time at UVA,” he insists. “More than a year later, I always enjoy seeing those same group members around Grounds. As I approach the end of my time at McIntire, I know that the bonds I formed with my group, and those that I’ve formed with classmates throughout other courses in the Comm School, will stay with me beyond graduation.”
A Definite IT Fit
As someone double majoring in Computer Science, Agrawal says that taking the Information Technology in Finance course with Professor Stefano Grazioli in his last semester as an undergrad has been nothing short of “a wonderful experience” and stands as one of the most impactful during his time in the Commerce School.
The class allowed him to draw on both his finance and computer science skills to develop a hands-on application. He says the educational experience was like no other he had previously encountered.
“The course focuses on building a robo-trader that we ultimately use in a hedging tournament to simulate stock and option trading over a six-month period,” he explains. “Given the plethora of trading strategies and parameters that my project partner and I could tweak leading up to the tournament, it was definitely a challenge trying to find an optimal solution. Nonetheless, it was that search for a solution that made our trading tournament experience all the more riveting.”
It’s unsurprising that Agrawal took to the competitive demands of the tournament, as it falls within his wheelhouse.
He’s had three engineering internships dealing directly with his chosen subject of interest: His first was with Uber’s Android/Java Developer Experience team in 2019; he returned to the ride-hailing disruptor’s Business Insights team for his second internship in 2020. Those stints were followed by an experience as an Android Mobile Software Engineer with messaging company Slack. The position was a positive one, and Agrawal will be headed back to Slack after graduation, working in their San Francisco, CA, office as an Associate Software Engineer.
He’s looking forward to it and has already joined a group chat with other UVA grads relocating to California’s Bay Area. “Knowing that I’ll have this community with me as we all start the next chapter of our lives on the West Coast makes me excited for the joy in the journey to come,” he says.