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How Aditya got his dream job

Aditya recently started his full-time journey at HackerRank as a Web Developer. He has written articles on tech with more than 500K views and has spoken at many events. Two years ago, he did Google Summer of Code with Probot. Here’s his journey on how he started with Web Development and got a good job despite having passed out from an engineering college with no hype.

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Phase 1: PRE-COLLEGE DAYS

Like many Indian teenagers. I got a computer at home pretty late. Before that my only memory of using computers was playing Pinball on my School’s computer during lab session. I remember they used to teach Logo back then. I couldn’t realize its application in real life so I didn’t find it particularly interesting. Later, we were taught Java and I was very happy after building a calculator with it. The thing that really made me take interest in software was when I found out Angry Birds game was using a Sprite Sheet file for all its birds and pigs. So I used Photoshop to make an Avengers-themed version of it. I even replaced some sound effect files. That project if you can even call it that, won me second prize in a school competition. After that, like most Indian teenagers I left fiddling on my computer and just studied to crack IIT JEE. And like most Indian teenagers my dream was crushed when I messed up both the Mains and Advanced paper.

Phase 2: GETTING INTO WEB DEVELOPMENT

After the huge setback at the IIT exam, I tried to perform better in UPTU and got admission in CSE branch of an average Engineering College. But I was not very enthusiastic about anything back then. During the *introduction* session by seniors, I got to know the placement scene is also not very good here. But then I heard about a 4th year senior who did something with coding and was gifted 3L+ INR by Google. I was immediately intrigued and then I approached the senior to ask about what he did. That’s how I got to know about Google Summer of Code and also realized that I need to be good in at least one software domain. That senior helped me a lot. There I learnt all about HTML. This web development thing felt really practical to me considering how easy it was to get started. I built my personal site with it which looks so ugly when I see it now.

Phase 3: FIRST INTERNSHIP

I joined a society in college which was related to software development. There I picked up so many things. One great benefit was that the websites I was building now were actually used by college students. So I was getting actual feedback. People would come to me and tell stuff like the online quiz game of the techfest worked great. This propelled me to learn new techniques and build more variety of stuff. All this happened in my first year. Before the holidays, one of my seniors from the society referred me to a startup which needed to redesign their website. This was going to be my first internship and it was remote so I could work from my home.

The company was using Bootstrap and I had just learned it so I got to apply many of the new learning on the website. Let me tell you a funny thing. To not overwhelm me by having me set up PHP servers and MySQL databases they would instead email me the generated HTML as a file and then I would change the HTML and CSS and mail them back and then they would retrofit my code in their PHP templates. But having to repeat the same code at 10 places and then email them new versions was a different kind of pain for me.

Phase 4: REALISATION

That internship allowed me to put something on my resume apart from my name and skills so I was very proud of it. My roommate, who was also into development, showed me LinkedIn and so I created my profile there, duplicated my single achievement, added HTML/CSS and MS Office as skills. Hey, MS Office is a legitimate skill for a developer. Or so I thought back then. I did another two internships both using AngularJS. The former was from a senior’s referral and the latter was through Internshala. All this helped me build a strong resume and a good GitHub profile. But the companies I have worked so far were not recognizable names and I was not expecting a good package from them. Also by this point I have seen myself that the companies coming to my college were mostly giving package around Rs 4-6 lakh and one or two company which gave 12 LPA package only selected 1-2 students who were toppers. I forgot to mention this earlier but I had not focused on studies that much. I was more focused on building my skills. So I had no expectations of good on-campus placements. To improve my chances, I started going for meetups and hackathons. But being an introvert, my socials skills were not very adept at networking. I would usually come back meeting just 1-2 people. So I thought of writing articles about Web Development online. It was the best decision I made so far. Some of my later articles were published at places like Freecodecamp, Auth0, etc. Collectively, I have got more than 500K+ views on my articles which are on Medium.

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Because of the huge reach of these articles I started getting emails for jobs. I was still in my third year but just to practise I started giving interviews on Skype. I thought if everything goes well, I would just ask for internship instead. Once I got an email from the VP of UrbanClap asking me to appear for an interview. I cleared all the rounds except the last one and I didn’t get selected. So far my resume, GitHub and Linkedin were strong but I could do one more thing to make it even stronger.

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Phase 5: GOOGLE SUMMER CODE

So Google Summer of Code is a programme in which Google picks some orgs. We have to send our project proposals to these orgs. If these orgs select us and we complete the project milestones properly, Google pays us a good stipend. The amount depends on the country of the student and changes every year. I think I got $2400. I did GSoC with Probot which is a project by a GitHub’s engineering team. From writing the first message on their Slack channel to pushing my last commit, those five months were really good. I learned a lot from GitHub’s engineers. Having GSoC listed in my resume gave more credibility to it. But it's not like if I didn’t do GSoC I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere. GSoC is not an IIT exam.

Phase 6: I GOT A JOB!

I saw the development community was very active on Twitter so I revived my old account and started following popular developers. I used to tweet about the articles I wrote, projects I pushed to GitHub, meetups I was speaking in. I got requests to do freelance work and ended up getting good money out of it. Once a developer from Microsoft offered to refer me there after seeing my talk but that didn’t pan out. I started connecting with developers from companies I wanted to take up full-time work. One day, a senior developer from HackerRank followed me on Twitter and I jumped at the opportunity. I DMed him if there were internships available at HackerRank. Luckily, there was so I sent my resume and he referred me. I got interviewed soon and this time I was selected. They arranged for my three-month stay in Bangalore. Working with a big engineering team for the first time was an amazing experience. My internship got finished in March of this year. After the internship I got PPO from HackerRank and I ended up with the highest package in my college.

If you want to have a conversation with me, find me on Twitter
All my tech-related articles can be found here

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