Like most software engineers, I was awed by the video games that I played when I was young. The software, the system, its working -- I was intrigued about all aspects of a computer. So when the time came to select my stream, I chose science without a second thought, determined to become a software engineer, and work in a software company some day.
However, my family didn’t have the resources to get me into a good coaching center, and I wasn't one of those talented students, who can achieve all on their own. Without proper guidance, I didn’t score well in my JEE exams. With that I bid my dreams of getting into an IIT, and consequently working in a good software company, goodbye. Due to limited resources and lack of knowledge, I chose to get admission in Northern Indian Engineering college, with the computer science branch. I felt like I had landed on the lowest rung possible, and the way ahead looked too steep.
But I chose to make the best of what I had. I barely remember my first year, but things got better after my second year. Since I was good at computers, I got excellent grades. But there was no practical application, and I realised that I was good only in the theories. I couldn’t even write ‘hello’ in Java or C. Another major setback that I faced in my fourth year was when Infosys came to our college for placement. Out of the total batch of 60, 50 students were placed, and I was one of the 10 who weren’t.
I left college with no offer and no practical knowledge. I felt like I had truly hit rock bottom this time. But I knew I had to push myself out of this situation. I spent hours learning and practising coding and competitive programming. I knew product based companies wouldn’t even shortlist my resume, so I only targeted service based companies for the time being. And soon after, I got hired by TCS.
I worked hard at TCS for the next 2 years, but I wasn't growing much -- the salary wasn’t good, and many of my peers were leaving for better opportunities. Even though I had practiced a lot of competitive programming and had good ranks on the platforms, I knew it wasn’t enough to get better offers. My peers had degrees from good colleges, something that I lacked, so I knew I had to plan well before resigning.
In the next 6 months, I got rejected by 18 companies -- I assumed that the questions would be about the work I was doing, but the interviewers asked questions about coding, logic behind java -- and I wasn’t prepared for those. So after my 18th Interview, I stopped applying, determined to prepare myself. I compiled all questions that had been asked to me in the previous interviews, studied the theories and practical applications, and finally cracked the next interview I gave.
My efforts showed when I got offers from 7 different companies. But my aim was to get into FAANG, and I knew that with my current company name and college background, none of those companies would shortlist me. So I chose Paytm, even though the offer was lower than the other companies. With that, I had cleared one hurdle -- of having a good company name on my resume. But I needed a good knowledge base, and my online preparation wasn’t yielding much because it was too unstructured. While browsing through these websites, I came across an advertisement for Scaler Academy.
When I read about their program that covered training and interview prep, I knew I needed exactly that. So I gave the test and attended the demo classes conducted by Abhimanyu sir and Anshuman sir. The level of teaching was amazing -- I was very impressed and that sealed the deal for me. I knew I was finally on the path to get into my dream companies.
When I joined, we were given the course layout -- Data structures and Algorithms, system design, and so on -- and the best thing was that the same was followed in the classes. In my past I had studied haphazardly, but this was structured and very well defined.
The classes were great, but what really stood out for me were the instructors. Kshitij sir and Tarun sir were the best teachers I had come across. Having knowledge isn’t what makes you a good teacher, knowing how to share it does -- and both instructors taught their topics so well, that I remember what they taught even today.
Kshitij sir’s style of teaching was very thorough and methodical -- thanks to him, I eventually understood how to identify and tackle any kind of question. He even conducted a session where he taught us how to answer in interviews and how to do salary negotiations. He gave great insights that helped us understand how to express ourselves well during interviews.
Tarun sir taught us system design, which was critical in the interviews. Unlike coding, system design does not have a perfect answer -- it is upto us how well we explain the concept to the interviewer. Tarun sir actually taught us ways in which we could explain the concepts in an effective way.
This is what set Scaler Academy apart from the rest for me -- people who had real life experience, Kshitij sir and Tarun sir, were teaching us. When I got the opportunity to interview with Amazon, I used all the knowledge and insights given by them, and the interviewers were really impressed with me. It’s because of them that I got hired in my dream company!
When my friends and juniors heard about my offer from Amazon, everyone was intrigued, and asked me how I had made it from a tier 3 college to one of the top companies. I recommended them to join Scaler Academy, not because it will get everyone into Amazon, but because they can learn and grow, and eventually reach their true potential. If there is anything my journey has taught me, it is to persevere and not give up, no matter how many hurdles we face.