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'Github and Kaggle are virtual resumes'

Kurian Benoy has always had a passion for technology, but after Class XII, he lost interest in Computer Science and he thought learning C++ was not that useful as well. Incidentally, Computer Science was the only subject where he lost A+ in Class XII.

However, he joined MEC and picked up and learnt Python. “Python was the first programming language which was so easy and intuitive to follow for me as a beginner. It was part of KTU syllabus then. (no longer). At MEC, we have a vibrant coding culture. When I joined, I realised how much better my peers were in programming and other stuff. This helped me tinker by installing various linux distributions in my first year(more than 5 linux distros) and started learning programming, “ says Kurian Benoy, talking about his initial years into the world of real-time technological experience.

Slow starter he might have been, but once he got going, there has not been no looking back.

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Kurian attended ISQUIP (a five-day workshop+ hackathon), at CEC Chengannur from where he learned HTML/CSS/JS, Django and also took home first prize in a Hackathon conducted there.

“As our team managed to get the first prize, I got an internship at Entri.me because Rahul Ramesh, Django instructor who taught me in ISQUIP was the CTO there. That is the best thing about tech events or tech conferences. You get to learn new things from people, meet CEOs/CTOs in a relaxed fashion. For instance, I have met the Director of Data Science, Microsoft while sipping tea. You get amazing mentors who help you in your learning journey (Gopi, Praveen), besides free food/swags,” says Kurian.

Working in a product-based startup, in his first year itself was a big thing because that was where he could learn so much more about Django (a backend framework) and Python. Slowly, Kurian got involved in College communities and learned about Open source through FOSSMEC in his college, with members actively contributing to Open Source. Some of them even got GSoC.

‘’My first open-source contribution was for some projects my friends worked. I heard having a streak and a lot of github green dots help in getting a good job from some random folks. So I have about 750+ contributions per year for more than two years now in github, “says Kurian, stressing the need to diversify skills and talent.

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Meanwhile, he got an opportunity to attend FOSSASIA International Summit, Singapore, where he met amazing developers and mentors like VLC founders, Mario Behling, Sayan Chaudhary, Kushal Das, Ivan Shcheklein, Santhosh Thottigal and Biswas. Kurian also was selected FOSSASIA OpenTechNights Winner.

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Then he went to Pycon India, the most valuable conference in India. “You get best conference experience in India. With a lot of experts, it’s a must-visit for any developer, regardless of language. Chennai Edition was my second time and that was also where I presented a full Tech talk. I talked about ML Models and Dataset versioning using DVC (a tool like git for ML). Giving a Tech talk was a fantastic experience,” says Kurian.

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To top it all, recently, Kurian became a Kaggle expert (he is in Top 500 now).

Here is a chat with Kurian Benoy:

You are stressing about students attending tech summits and conferences at regular intervals. Is it like real learning happens outside of the classroom?

Real learning can happen in multiple places. If you want to learn something like Machine Learning, merely learning a MOOC won't help. Similarly, tech summits and conferences help to get a broad idea of new technologies/buzzwords and features. This exposure will help you when you are working with some projects later. Another crucial thing is that you would get new friends and mentors at such conferences.

At the end of the engineering course, what matters the most? A strong academic record or your growth/participation at tech conferences? From your experience, how do you balance both?

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Both are equally important. For me managing both was initially a challenge and frankly, I got a few supplies. Yet later, I learned how to find a balance for all the activities. time for both and plan for events I wish to go beforehand itself. And yes, I passed out with a good percentage.

From a layman’s point of view, how does s/he access such big conferences and how do you leave their mark there?

I will recommend students to attend meetups whenever they get a chance. In Kochi itself, we have a lot of meetups happening every month. Try to go for small events like meetups first, then scale up by attending a conference/big event in your state. Slowly, after some exposure, attend a national conference like Pycon India.

How was your experience at FOSSASIA INTERNATIONAL SUMMIT, Singapore? Again, how do a student can apply and reach there?

My experience at FOSSASIA international summit has been documented at my personal website (kurianbenoy.github.io). To get into the summit, you can register as a speaker now at (Check here) I got in as an OpenTechNights winner, whose application form will be announced at FOSSASIA Gitter channel.

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Also, tell us the importance of being there at Github and Kaggle. Is this the future?

Github and Kaggle are like virtual resumes. Github shows the best of your projects and any of the recruiters can look at your code there. Similarly, Kaggle rankings reflect your data-scientist skills in real-world problems. I am not sure if this is the future, as hiring merely using Kaggle/Github is difficult for recruiters. Yet it's a very important parameter.

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