There are many reasons why people choose engineering, but there would be a few who would let curiosity lead the way while deciding their future. Yes, you read that right, I chose engineering simply because I was curious. I had no idea about the field, nor about the options that I had in engineering. But I knew that I wanted to do something that would enable me to use my ideas and create something using technology. And that’s how I chose computer science even though I barely knew anything about it.
I'm Divya Mishra, and this is my story.
In fact, I started preparing for JEE exams a mere 10 days before the exam. Obviously, I didn’t score well, but my scores were decent enough to get admission in ITM Group of Institutions. Here I saw a mix of students -- some who didn’t know the first thing about coding, and some who were already working on their start-ups in the first year of college. But even after a year, I still felt lost.
Unfortunately most educational institutions in our country don't have a proper guidance system. So I turned to my elder brother who was a 4th year engineering student himself. He had a friend who was studying at Scaler -- and having heard his review about the institute, he suggested I join it too. When I looked it up, I felt like it was exactly what I needed -- someone to point me in the right direction, and help me navigate the path.
Before I joined this program, I was more intent on getting a good placement at the end of my graduation. But slowly, I realised the importance of working on improving my knowledge and skills. And unlike college, where we get distracted by theories and many extra curricular activities, the training at Scaler is very streamlined. It focuses on the core concepts, helps build a strong foundation, and then teaches us how to implement those ideas.
The instructors here are all amazing, but Naman sir and Pragy sir, are hands down, the best instructors I have ever had. While teaching, Naman sir doesn’t stick to the theoretical definitions of topics, instead he explains the concepts using examples based on real world problems. That makes it easier to not just understand, but also to retain the concepts.
One of my favorite classes with Pragy sir was when we were being taught ‘how to learn’. He explained to us the difference between people who achieve things and those who don’t -- it wasn’t always lack of resources or opportunities -- it was lack of perseverance and willingness to make use of what they have at their disposal, avoiding the distractions, and giving it their best.
He also spoke about what giving 100 percent to something really means. He simply put it in a formula ‘100 percent is equal to performance minus interference’ (100% = performance - interference). He then expounded on it by giving Arjuna’s example.
When Dronacharya wanted to explain the importance of concentration to his pupils, he put them to a test of hitting a bird’s eye. When asked what they could see before they shot the arrow, each pupil answered with a variety of answers like the tree, leaves, branches, teacher, cousins… except for Arjuna, who could only see the bird’s eye, and could, hence, hit the target accurately. He ended the class by using Dronacharya’s words -- “When you want to achieve something, you must focus on it. Close out all other distractions and concentrate only on your target.” That wasn’t just a lesson, but a life lesson for me.
Another incident that I recollect is with my teaching assistant, Ayush sir. Initially I was struggling with completing my college work and Scaler assignments. I was lagging behind in class and had a huge backlog of problems. He sat me down and gave me the example of a football player. Can he/she ever win a game without playing it? Then how could I become a good coder without doing my practice?
He also told me that each one of us has just 24 hours in a day, but how we utilize those hours is up to us. I could waste my time thinking about the workload, or manage my time and give it my best. His words had such an impact on me, that I not only cleared my backlog within 4 days, but my problem solving percentage, which was at 65% earlier, went to 95% in the last week.
Another invaluable learning experience was with my mentor, Shubhan Dhiman. Even though we have only had a couple of sessions so far, he has been very approachable and helpful -- at times I feel like I am interacting with my college senior -- that is how comfortable he makes the sessions. He always encourages me to think positively, and to have a glass half full mentality instead of glass half empty.
In our second session, he taught me about time measurement. Usually we all make time tables, but fail to follow it more often than not. So he asked me to measure the time I take for each task and make notes about it. This has helped me evaluate my own performance -- which tasks take unnecessarily longer time, which tasks I need to dedicate more time to. With the constant assignments, projects and quizzes from college, this practise has helped me greatly.
It's true that I have only been here for 3 months, but I feel more centered now. I was interested in exploring the world of programming before, but now, I know how I can go about it. I feel more confident, and motivated to choose the correct path and achieve my goals.