Why I Chose Unconventional Career and University in Montana

Guest post  by Apoorva – Unconventional- career path and choice of University

I couldn’t have been happier today with my choice of course and university in the U.S. I did my undergrad in Environmental Sciences from Pune and am now doing my Master’s in Environmental Journalism [the actual name of the course is much longer].

Most people I have interacted with back home have no idea what and where Montana state is located. I see hardly anyone on this site write a post even remotely related to education in Montana.

To put things in perspective – I’m writing this simply because no one ever told me about this place and the kind of stuff I’d be doing when I got here, and I genuinely think that if there are people out there who are looking towards careers in Wildlife Biology, Conservation, Environmental Science or Environmental Reporting and Journalism- this is the place to be.

45 Days in USA – Emotional Suffering to Realized Dreams

You couldn’t be more spot on at The University of Montana, Missoula [UM] OR Montana State University, Bozeman, MT [MSU].

Road to Montana

I am at UM and am loving my time here. I started my Master’s in August this year and it all works out for the best considering my proximity to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.

The wilderness here is top notch and I have deer on my patio at night. But I guess most people avoid extreme weather conditions like the crazy snow that MT gets.

There are VERY few Indians here in Missoula but almost 5 times the number just 3hrs away in Bozeman – owing to MSU’s engineering departments.

I absolutely love studying here. My coursework is harder than most would believe it to be and having 12 credits at the grad. level and teaching a class, does not make things easier.

To add to my already loaded schedule for Spring ’12- I’m also now the new President of the South and South-east Asian Students’ Association for my university.

It’s a fantastic opportunity to take part in activities, meet new people, spread the culture, and make friends in this super tiny ‘city’ of Missoula.

Admission Requirements

I needed the usual –

  • English language proficiency,
  • GRE [formality for Graduate School],
  • Letters or recommendation, S
  • Statement of Purpose

11 years of having worked with wildlife definitely helped my resume become super stable.

My grades have always been above average, but my extra-curricular activities have been all over the place ranging from horse-riding to rifle-shooting to playing the guitar.

All of that counts. Plus, I had to write essays and provide samples of my written and photographic work to be able to get into the journalism degree program.

Visa Interview

I’d like to mention here, that it took me an insane amount of time [2months] to get ALL my VISA documents ready and filed, and more so because I did everything myself with help from my parents.

I didn’t take extra classes, or go to an education consultancy agency or anything of the sort.

My VISA interview was on the 6th of June 2011 and lasted for 50seconds. I’m not kidding. I gave the interview at the Mumbai embassy and was in line 30mins before my scheduled appointment.

I was asked following questions

  • I chose this particular university [which, by the way, is ranked in the top 3 for journalism programs]
  • who would be paying for my education
  • whether I have immediate family in the U.S. and whether I’ve been here before. My answers were not rehearsed and I’m a pretty confident speaker [you need to be one if you intend to be a wildlife journalist].

One doesn’t have to go out of one’s way and be extra sugar-coated at these interviews. They’re not assessing your ability to give them diabetes. So just being appropriately polite, confident, and humble goes a long way.

Checkout Montana Universities

Either way, coming back to the point – that this place is much better than I had imagined it would be, I would be more than happy to help anyone that might be considering a career in the environmental fields like conservation, wildlife biology, forestry, climate change studies, paleontology, and environmental journalism.

If you’re interested in exploring possibilites at UM- give me a holler. I hope this helps those that have considered Montana but opted out because of several reasons. It’s a stellar place to be.


Apoorva, thanks for sharing your experiernce and life style in Montana.

I spent 4 days in Yellow Stone National Park.  We camped for a night in the park.

It was such an amazing experience. It MUST visit place in USA. People then to think NY, Las Vegas when it comes to places to see, but Yellow Stone is one of a kind.  I have to visit Yellow Stone in Winter, it will be an unique experience.