Teach and Grow: Spreading the lamp of knowledge through mentoring

Ujjaval Verma
6 Min Read

The light of knowledge is best shared through the means of a mentor. A good mentor focuses on a mentee’s overall development, and not only makes them knowledgeable and confident, but also helps them inch closer to excellence.

Learning comes with a sense of duty. It is something we all feel obliged to. When someone teaches you a new skill, provides you knowledge, you may be compelled to spread the light of knowledge to others. Growing up, I had seen my mother working tirelessly as a Chemistry lecturer, illuminating the career paths of thousands of students. As I closely witnessed her journey as a teacher, it became imperative to me that I had immense passion for teaching and mentoring, and I wished to inculcate it in my professional life.

I am Ujjaval Verma, currently working as a Senior Engineer at PhonePe. I completed my schooling in a satellite town near Panipat, and I have had an inseparable bond with the world of computers since my early childhood. As a high school kid, I taught myself HTML and other elementary programming languages such as Visual Basic. One of my fondest memories as a kid is that of building a website in Grade 10 that showcased interactive audio-visual educational content. That website won the Raman Science fair award in the “Learning through Computers” category and it laid the foundation of my passion for programming.

College was wonderful. I graduated from IIIT Hyderabad, with a B.Tech degree in Computer Science. Academics and co-curricular activities took up most of my time. As they say, ‘vo din bhi kya din they’; college shaped the trajectory of my life ahead. As an individual, I put in a lot of effort in skill and personality development, I wanted to emerge as the best version of myself.

I think in an individual’s career journey, sometimes, self-learning and then spreading the light of knowledge to others takes a backseat. In the hustle bustle of our corporate journey, lack of time, absence of a vision and sometimes, mere pressure of work causes a feeling of stagnation. But, fortunately for me, work has been a place where I have blossomed as an individual; I have also had the opportunity to guide others to grow.

I currently work at PhonePe as a Senior Software Engineer. While I do contribute substantially as a Backend Developer, my scope of work is not limited to coding. As a tech lead, I have had the chance to manage projects, and work on talent acquisition. Mentoring has become an intrinsic part of my profile as I motivate young talent to envision success and play my part in accelerating the growth of their career trajectory.

I believe that not everything can be learned from the four walls of a school, the internet or by sitting in the library. Sometimes the only way to advance is to learn directly from someone who knows – a mentor. Rather than learning through trial and error, a mentor is a person you can look to for direction and a role model to imitate.

Looking at my own experiences as a student and later as working professional, I owe a lot to my seniors and mentors. Having the ear of someone more experienced than me, who has already have faced my situation before and getting the right guidance from them has helped me countless times and passing on that goodwill to the next person is my biggest motivation for mentoring.

While the concept of mentoring is simple, successful implementation can be challenging, as there is a lot at stake. Scaler has given me the opportunity to provide direct guidance to individuals who are genuinely seeking it, and I commend their community which values the learners immensely.

As a mentor, my approach is to help one to reflect on their career, and aid them in setting goals, developing contacts, identifying resources and building confidence. Motivating a candidate and ensuring that they can believe in themselves goes a long way in helping them gain the required coding skills and also helps them build confidence along the way. I modify the approach as per the mentee in question, I have three mentees currently, and I am immensely proud of their learning curve.

One thing which I have understood is that to be a good software developer, you must first become a well-rounded engineer. Yes, one must focus on writing good code, adhering to coding practices, but one must also focus on building skills like communication, confidence, critical thinking, as well as a business-minded overview. These will always come in handy as a corporate professional. Therefore, to be a great coder, one must first be a knowledgeable engineer.

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