When I think of how I came to be a computer science student, I often find it amusing how fate works. As ironic as it sounds, I didn’t even know how to start a computer until I was in college. The only reason I selected computer science was because I didn’t want to study biology -- and even then I found it difficult and disliked it. I started taking tuitions to score well, but when the concepts became clearer, I found that I actually enjoyed coding.
To add to it, I found another reason -- my fictional inspiration, Tony Stark and my real life inspiration, Elon Musk -- they made such cool apps and gadgets, and completely revolutionized the tech industry. I found myself increasingly curious about Artificial Intelligence, and decided that I wanted to follow in the footsteps of these men, and create something great of my own.
I'm Ayush Kumar, and this is the story of my journey.
Unfortunately, my JEE exam results didn’t align with my dream of studying at an IIT, so I settled for HMR Institute of Technology and Management. But the syllabus in our first year was so uninteresting, that I stopped coding in my second semester, and got lured into the world of network marketing. I got so occupied with it that I lost sight of my goal for the next year and a half.
But then the pandemic struck, and with it came the realisation that I had lost precious time that I could have utilized to work on my coding skills. I started looking for online courses, different platforms, YouTube channels -- I applied and subscribed to so many, but nothing seemed to fit, until I came across Scaler Edge -- it felt like my search had finally yielded. Yes, I know it sounds a little filmy, but I do believe in the famous words -- “if you truly want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”
I was really impressed with what the program offered -- a comprehensive course, mentorship, teaching assistants, a strong coding culture. And to add to that, I read that the co-founder, Anshuman Singh, had worked with Facebook -- it gave a certainty that I would indeed get to learn a lot from Scaler.
In the short time that I have been here, I can say that the experience has indeed been great. The biggest difference for me was the fact that unlike colleges, we weren’t forced to learn generic theories. Instead, we get to learn what is truly important -- not only do we learn all about Data Structures and Algorithms, but we get to practise and implement what we learn. I can’t speak for everyone, but the practical application is what fuels my passion for coding.
Moreover, I really like the teaching style of the instructors here -- Paridhi ma’am, Kshitij sir, Pragy sir -- they are all very experienced and knowledgeable, and it shows when they teach us. They already anticipate what doubts we would have, and they always have relevant examples to explain and clear our doubts.
Besides the instructors, we also have teaching assistants to help us when needed. My TA, Vibhor Vimal, is someone I interact with almost on a daily basis. To read somebody else’s complicated code, understand it and then explain the mistakes is tiresome, but he has never once complained -- he has always guided me about how I can debug my code, and use a pen paper to start over.
It’s these simple things that really matter the most, if you ask me. Just like my mentor, Pranay Tanniru, has helped me cope with my discomfort of conversing in English. Believe me, it has been a challenge that has stopped me from many opportunities, but when I had my first session with him, I realised I didn’t really have an option -- he doesn’t understand Hindi, so I had to get over my lack of confidence and speak to him if I wanted to learn. And he has been a big help, truly. Not once did I feel any judgment from him, and I also get to learn the language when he speaks with me.
When I told him about my fascination with Artificial Intelligence and my plans to go into it, he suggested that I don’t jump into AI directly as there aren’t many opportunities for freshers. Instead he asked me to focus on software development, gain experience, and then start machine learning. This guidance is what I felt was lacking in my life, and I appreciate everyone who is helping me learn from their experience at Scaler.
Another thing that had intrigued me when I learned about the Edge program was the opportunity to learn and teach as a part of the Scaler community. Everyone comes together to help each other out, and we all learn from our different approaches. But what I appreciate most is the ‘help request’ section. Whenever a student has a doubt, they raise a help request, and it goes to all those who have attempted the problem.
Since the day I joined Scaler, I have been actively involved in solving doubts and giving directions to my batchmates -- I feel I learn more when I get to teach others. I have solved 90 help requests so far, and I really like that they give the students this opportunity to help each other at their level.
I do believe that had I received such training earlier, it would have made a lot of difference. In fact, I even have also expressed how introducing these concepts in 11th and 12th grades can help students make better and timely career decisions. But I guess it’s better late than never.