Before you begin on any path, ask the why behind it -- this is a paraphrase of words written by Simon Sinek, but it is now that I have truly understood the meaning behind those words. Like most kids, my path in life seemed predetermined -- finish school, get into an IIT, land a well paying job. And for the longest time, I didn’t question it either, even when I loathed it. I spent my 11th and 12th grade attending coaching classes for JEE after a full day of school -- it was so exhausting that I couldn’t focus on anything. I just did it for the sake of doing it. And it showed in my poor performance in my first attempt.
But I didn’t want to give up. I took a gap year to prepare better, and plunged myself into preparing for the entrance exam. It wasn’t until my second attempt that I started questioning the choices I’d been making. I got shortlisted at the newer IITs, but with branches that I wasn’t the least bit interested in. So I stepped back and decided to pursue computer science at AKGEC instead of getting a degree in a random branch.
My experience at AKGEC was good for the most part -- I was a part of different teams every year, and I got to learn quite a lot. It was also the place where my love for coding turned into a passion. I started practicing more and participating in contests. In my third year, a friend recommended Scaler Academy to me. Their training program caught my interest, so I enrolled for it. And it turned out to be much more than I had expected -- well structured curriculum, talented teachers, teaching assistants, and a whole team of dedicated people to help us with anything that we needed.
Out of all the instructors, there were three instructors whose classes I particularly looked forward to. I still watch his recorded classes till today. Pragya Sir’s explanation of Binary search was so succinct, it hardly left room for doubts. And Tarun Sir’s classes on recursion were well detailed and very helpful.
One incident that I still remember was with the teaching assistant, Vivek Talreja. During one of the problem solving sessions on Low Level Design, I was the only student attending the class. He could have canceled the class and asked me to do the problem on my own, but he didn’t. He conducted the class -- he gave me the problem, waited patiently until I solved it, and then proceeded to give me feedback and show the correct format for the same.
My mentor and my student success manager deserve a special mention in my journey with Scaler Academy. My SSM, Alka Ma’am, had been my go-to person right from the start. From helping me with issues with my accounts to clearing my doubts about every little thing, she was always there with a prompt reply. There wasn’t a thing that I didn’t get her assistance with.
My mentor, Utkarsh Srivastava, was at Zeta before moving to Google, and had amassed enough experience and knowledge to become one of the best mentors of my life. He guided me, motivated me, and always pushed me to do better. The best thing was that he always made time for me despite his busy schedule. I remember reaching out to him for a mock interview a day before my interview with ThoughtWorks, and he agreed for a session even at a short notice. The company had a code pairing round that I had no idea about. He explained the concept, and even had a set of potential questions to prepare me for the interview.
Shortly after I joined Scaler, our college placements started, and I got shortlisted for an interview with the company Josh. I was nervous because they had not hired anyone from my college in the previous year because of their focus on Data Structures and Algorithms. Fortunately for me, the lectures at Scaler at this time were about these topics, and I easily cleared the interview. But the package offered was low, and I was in two minds about taking it up. All my seniors in college suggested I accept the offer, but I decided to take a leap of faith and wait for a referral from Scaler Academy.
For the next couple of months, I kept worrying if I’d made the right decision. To make things worse, I kept giving interviews, but none converted into offers. Finally, I got a call about an opening at Zeta, and I started preparing for it -- determined to make it this time. I even emailed Abhimanyu sir asking for advice. And soon after, I along with the other interviewees for Zeta received an email from Anshuman Sir on how to tackle the culture fit and HR round. His advice along with all the training we had received at Scaler made the interview process pretty easy.
Today, I am proud to say that I made it -- despite so many failures and obstacles, I found my footing at Zeta. There were many times when I felt dejected and hopeless, but in those dark times, I would often turn to the motivational talks by Elon Musk and Gary Vaynerchuk. The way they spoke about their failures, and how they achieved success by being patient, persistent, and focused was inspiring for me. This is what I learnt from my experience at Scaler Academy as well.
And this is what I wish to pass on to my fellow engineers. The college you are from won’t make you successful, you will. Have patience, be consistent, be sincere, and you will accomplish everything you set your mind on. Ask yourself why you want to do something, and then put your all into it. Today, I have found my why -- to build something great that many people like me can use and benefit from. And you can too!