This story is a part of our ‘A Day in the Life’ series that highlights the career journeys of 2U employees across the world. Throughout March we’re celebrating Women’s History Month and featuring members of one of our Business Resource Networks: the Women’s Alliance Network.
Vinni Anandham has always been passionate about celebrating accomplished women.
From a young age, Vinni was assigned projects from her mother—a teacher from India who thought summer school breaks were far too long. She would give Vinni the name of a notable woman, such as Indira Gandhi, Maya Angelou, Barbara Jordan, or Benazir Bhutto, and 10 books about them that she had to read and create a poster presentation on in two months time.
These projects were exciting for Vinni because she was allowed to buy any kind of papers, colorful pens, or stickers she wanted to decorate her poster with as long as the information about the dignitary she was presenting on was relevant.
Little did Vinni know these activities would ignite not only her interest in learning about women who have made a distinct impact on the world but also her affinity for education.
Today, Vinni is a senior admissions counselor at 2U. Described as always an adventure, her role within Admissions requires her to build relationships with prospective students to help them build their futures. She’s inspiring new people every day to further their education—and she has fun doing it. Vinni considers the day she accepted a position at 2U as one of the best decisions she has ever made.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work in Admissions? Read on for a day in the life of Vinni Anandham.
What is it about 2U that sparked your interest? What makes 2U worthwhile and special is the people. It’s rare to find a team you enjoy working with on a daily basis. I still recall walking into the office to meet my small team of five, all of whom welcomed me with huge smiles on their faces. They wanted to have lunch together and give me a tour of the office. That’s something I lacked at my former job. The energy of everyone in the office is so infectious, and it's still the reason I love being here every day.
What do you find most rewarding and challenging about your job? As a senior admissions counselor, I have the privilege to host the Admitted Student Webinar Experience where all of the admitted students within a Speech@NYU cohort get one opportunity before classes to meet NYU faculty and their peers. As the webcams turn on, I get to see the look on faculty’s faces as they meet the students for the first time. It's the most rewarding feeling watching everyone interact. The students' eyes are sparkling and the faculty members are smiling ear-to-ear. All of the team’s hard work is collectively represented in this short webinar together.
The challenging part of my job, which I’m sure every admissions counselor can relate to, is re-engaging students who are unresponsive. We know students have busy lives, but it’s hard not to think to yourself ‘what could I have done differently?’
What’s your favorite part about working at 2U? I love the people I work with. I have the flexibility to work from home two days a week, but I typically come in either all week or at least four days because it's a great feeling coming into HQ. Everyone’s energy puts a smile on my face.
My team takes our guiding principle ‘have fun’ seriously. We usually have a competition for each cohort, and I take great pride in helping organize it. Currently we have a Family Feud-themed competition where the team is divided into two groups and each week my manager and I come up with a question. The group with the highest metrics will get to answer it. If they don’t answer correctly, the other teams have a chance to steal—just like the game show.
You’re a member of one of 2U’s Business Resource Networks. Why did you join the Women’s Alliance Network? I feel very strongly about having and being part of a strong network of women and allies—not just in the workplace, but in my personal life as well. The Women’s Alliance Network (W.A.N.) is that network for me at 2U. I became most invested in W.A.N. after participating as a moderator for a Lean In Circle. It was one of my favorite experiences at 2U because I got to meet a group of people from different departments who were so open to sharing their lives with each member and supporting one another.
The theme of Women’s History Month this year is valiant women of the vote. In that spirit, we’re asking 2Utes why they run. Why do you run? I ran for city council in Hyattsville, Maryland in 2017. I lived there and wanted there to be rent control for people living in apartments. While I did not win, I was super proud of running because it helped start a new conversation in the council about a lack of representation and participation from renters in the community, as well as the problems they face. I was proud to start that conversation and ran against two other amazing women who were the kindest people I’ve ever met. We talked about issues and our interests, and have continued being friends.
You’re currently pursuing your MBA at American University’s Kogod School of Business. Why MBA@American? I genuinely enjoy numbers and projections. It’s so much fun to analyze data without losing the connection between people. Knowing this, I was sure that business was the path forward for me. When I was looking into MBA programs, I knew that I wanted to learn more about the world and choose a school that not only takes a global perspective, but has a global presence. When researching American University it was so obvious to me that this was my school.
Now that I’m less than two months away from graduating from the 2U-powered MBA@American program, I know I made the right choice. I’ve had the opportunity to travel and visit companies like Mercedes Benz, DHL in China, and McDonald’s HQ in Chicago just to name a few. I have been taught by former president of American University Dr. Kerwin, who taught his course by taking my class to the White House. In China, I took a course that was taught by the dean of the business school. He stayed with us for all parts of the trip, which is how I got a selfie with him while climbing Qingcheng Mountain. It really shows how much the school values connecting and working with all their students.
Out of everything you’ve done at 2U so far, what are you most proud of? Most admissions counselors don't get to meet the people they help in the application process. But I was incredibly fortunate to attend an immersion where I met eight students I had previously advised by phone. We met nearly a year after they all had been accepted into a program, and each one of them immediately recognized my face or voice and ran up to me to give me a hug. That day has truly been the highlight of my career so far.
What advice would you give to someone just starting at 2U? Don’t be shy to join a Business Resource Network, sit in the front row of an Ask Me Anything (AMA) with senior leadership, volunteer and participate in Lean In Circles, go to all the happy hours you are invited to, and create events—no matter how big or how small—to bring people together. We have a very unique and rare culture at 2U that should be celebrated. It’s a place where you can be your best self at work, and have fun!
Are you interested in a job like Vinni’s? Check out our Student Engagement page for more information on open jobs within her department.
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