My interest in computers developed early on when I got enrolled in a basic web designing course in my school in my 6th grade. As a curious child, I would keep experimenting with my computer at home too. But software engineering as a career was something I learnt much later in my 11th grade, when I had to choose science or commerce as my stream. Since my interest lay with the former, it was a natural choice for me to pursue it further.
What cemented my decision was the opportunity to participate in ProCon Junior in IIIT Delhi. As the only student from my school competing with a couple of hundred students from various schools, it was an eye opening experience for me. I was able to score a rank in the top 50, but what was more important was the exposure to real world programming challenges.
However, my plans to get into the top IITs fell flat when I couldn’t score well in the JEE exams. So after considering my options, I chose to get admitted into Guru Tegh Bahadur Institute of Technology under IP University with computer science as my branch. Even though our college curriculum covered the basics of computer science, the focus was more on theory than on practical learning in general. Thankfully, there was a good programming culture in my college, including a CodeChef chapter started by one of my seniors at the time. The combination of weekly sessions, a good coding culture among the technical societies, and the freedom to learn and experiment was something that was very helpful in giving me a head start during my first semester at college.
During the next seven semesters, I interned at 3 different organisations, and explored different areas of interest. Despite getting full-time offers from all three, I refused them because I wanted to do something in core software engineering. A lot of my dream companies did not come for on-campus placements, so I was left with no option but to go off campus to find suitable job opportunities. In order to prepare myself better for those interviews, I started looking for more options online where I could learn and practice coding and programming.
One such Google search led me to the InterviewBit website -- it appealed to me because I could learn unaided and at my own pace, so I spent the last semester learning and solving as many questions on it as I could. Since I had already decided to forego my college placements, I reached out to people I had worked with earlier. One of my previous mentors had started a company, and after interviewing with him, I started working at his start-up.
I had a fruitful two years at this company. We were a small team of 6, and we were entirely responsible for all aspects of the product. I thoroughly enjoyed this hands-on approach, and the small team dynamic. I got to learn a lot, but I realised that my growth was limited here.
Around this time, I got a promotional email about Scaler Academy and the launch of the course for experienced engineers. I was aware of my strengths and weaknesses -- I understood the basics of Data Structures and Algorithms, but I knew I needed structured guidance to crack questions and problems about coding during interviews. Since I had already had a good experience with InterviewBit, I knew this program would actually help me, so I gave the test and joined the Academy.
And as I had expected, the course was well curated and designed efficiently. The instructors were not only well experienced, but also had a great approach to teaching. I especially remember Vivekanand sir’s Math lectures, Pragy sir’s classes on Binary search, and Tarun sir’s lessons on Dynamic Programming. Vivekanand sir broke down the topic to its essence and then explained how it could be used in different problems. Both Pragy sir and Tarun sir made their lectures very interactive, and always encouraged us to ask questions during and after class.
One of the most valuable things about the classes at Scaler, according to me, was the teachers solving the problems. The concepts and theories about Data Structures and Algorithms were already available on the internet, but watching someone solve problems in front of me was what helped me the most. It’s easy to mimic someone’s approach, and get better in the process. Patterns that are difficult to recognize when you solve a problem by yourself become visible when you watch the other person’s solutions. This helped put things into perspective.
Another aspect of the Scaler course was the mentorship program that I benefited from. I had two mentors -- Kunal Kapadia from Dunzo and Krunal Parmar from Booking.com. I had a good experience with both, more so with Krunal sir since I got to spend more time with him. He was proactively involved in my betterment -- after every session, he would summarize what we did, what he found lacking, and how I could improve. He was extremely approachable too! He told me to ask for help whenever I needed it, not just during our weekly sessions.
We also did a lot of mock interviews. For four months, we did one-hour sessions every week. We didn’t focus too much on DS Algo since I was already confident with those topics, but we did a lot of sessions on system design, machine coding, High Level Design, Low Level Design -- and these are what helped me crack my interviews with Petasense.
The best part was that I could see from day one how invested he was in my growth. He always encouraged me, despite how I performed in my mock interviews. He never went easy on me though. He asked me varied questions, and always pushed me to improve my solutions and make them scalable.
I looked up to him because of his perseverance too. He himself had interviewed with a lot of companies before joining Booking.com, and I drew inspiration from his journey -- it served as a motivation that I would get to my destination too. It was just a question of hard work and my ability to grab and convert when the right opportunity came my way.
And that is what I have said, and continue to say to anyone who asks for my advice on joining Scaler. Be realistic in your expectations, be ready to put in hard work, and be consistent -- if you’re willing to do all this, Scaler Academy is the place for you.