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Such a Jolly time

Sakura Science High School Programme in Japan, Google Udacity Scholarship, Facebook F8 event and an internship at Google India. Few at such a young age can boast of such a rich resume like what Jap Leen Kaur Jolly has. What makes her a successful student? In a special article to Fayz, Jap describes her life and career journey.

Let's quickly roll back a few years. Back in the school, you would have spotted a timid girl who hardly answered any questions though she knew them; the introvert girl who wouldn't ever be the first one to say 'Hi!' to anyone she didn't know; the reserved girl who'd prefer to sit in the class even during the recess.


And Boom!! Switch back to now, and you'd see a completely different version of the same girl. This girl is much more confident now in her own skin, the first one to greet others in a room of unknowns, organises and conducts numerous talks and workshops. No brownie points for guessing who it's. It’s me, Jap Leen Kaur Jolly.

When I was in Class X, I remember one of my friends asking me about which were my favourite subjects. Without a second thought, I jumped up, saying 'CS and Maths'. Her next question, which actually got me thinking, was that which were the ones I found the most challenging and intriguing. After spending a while contemplating, I said 'CS and Maths'. Again.


She stared at me at these seemingly contradicting statements. Perhaps back then, even I was startled at my own answers for a minute. But then I gradually realised that it was perhaps the challenging nature of these that made me so interested in studying them further. And this realisation has played a crucial role in helping me decide to pursue Science with CS stream in Class XI and XII and aim for engineering in CS as a career.

And since then, there's no looking back. Our CS teacher always gave us interesting problems to solve and encouraged us to study beyond the curriculum. The rush and thrill I felt on getting a new problem to solve and the satisfaction I got on successfully solving them further strengthened my will to take this field up as my career choice.


Being one of the toppers in the Science stream at DPS RK Puram, I had been selected to be a part of the Sakura Science High School Programme, organised by the Japan Science and Technology Ministry, held in April 2016, in Tokyo, Japan. During this tour, I interacted with several Nobel laureates like Professor Toshihide Maskawa and Professor Hideki Shirakawa (we synthesized a conductive polymer electro-luminescent device with him, which was super amazing!); the first Japanese astronaut to go into space, Mamoru Mohri; and students from across Asia. We also visited top tech universities there and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC). I was one of the selected students to meet and have a discussion with the Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Mr. Hiroshi Hase, and other dignitaries at the Embassy of Japan, New Delhi. Meeting with such a diverse group of knowledgeable people ignited within me a spark to learn more about the latest technological advances and do my bit to contribute to the same.


After joining college, I explored various technologies and started off by making small projects in them. A few months in, I also joined Women Who Code Delhi as a volunteer. Anyone who has seen me closely knows how much communities mean to me today, and that point was the start of it all. They not only provide a great way of learning cool stuff, but also an opportunity to network with some of the best people out there. Having been an organiser in this amazing community for over two years now, I've been associated with this community in various capacities, starting off as a volunteer, to being an evangelist and currently one of the network leads.


I got the Learn IT, Girl! Scholarship, wherein I was paired with a mentor to learn a technology of my choice, while collaborating over a project. I chose to work on Android during the scholarship period as I had to start from scratch in that domain. The three-month duration was pretty challenging, with me juggling between college books and laptop every now and then, but paving my way through these challenges is what made this a great learning experience indeed! Here is a blog describing my complete experience about the same: Click here

Being keen on exploring the field of Android further, I applied for the Google Udacity Scholarship in the Android Developer track and I was ecstatic on receiving it.

Having to attend the annual conference of Facebook, F8, as a scholar, was another great experience that I cherish. Interacting and having discussions with leaders at top tech companies, learning from amazing people during the conference workshops, making a bunch of new friends in a new country, having the opportunity to visit the Facebook Headquarters at Menlo Park: these are just a few of the major takeaways from that trip.

Hackathons are a great way to collaborate with a team to build a working prototype for a project. With this in mind, I, in a team of 5 other fellow girls from my college, decided to participate in Smart India Hackathon 2019. We were selected for the on-site Grand Finale at NIT Calicut. After hours of struggling with the code, presentations, pitch, etc without catching a minute of sleep and skipping meals, we gave the final pitch. As we waited for the results, there were butterflies buzzing around in your stomachs, we discussed internally how much we learned over the past few days, under the mentorship of our organisation (Goldman Sachs) officials. We were so exhausted by the time the results were being announced that we took a few seconds to realise that our name was called up as the winners! We were all elated, not just because of the results, but more so, because of the amazing journey it had been, learning a bunch of new stuff every day together!


During my second year, I also got the opportunity to interview at Google India for an internship in the summer of 2019. After clearing the two back-to-back coding rounds, I was overwhelmed to receive the offer there. I interned in the Google Search Team at the Bangalore office for 10 weeks from May 27 until August 2. It was a great learning opportunity for me to get insights about the best coding practices followed across the globe. I'm glad to share that I got a return internship offer from there too, so I can't wait to be back next summer.


Tell us a bit abut Sakura Science High School Programme. How was the selection process?

Being one of the science stream toppers in my batch at DPS R.K.Puram, I was selected to be a part of the programme (I had joined the school in 11th, and was glad to be among the top five rank-holders out of over a thousand). Then I had an interview-cum-discussion with the HOD, Mathematics; who later also accompanied us to Japan during the tour. Next, all five scholars were called by the principal, who briefed us about this amazing opportunity and the full-expense covered trip. I remember being completely overwhelmed as I stepped out of the Principal’s office. It indeed took me some time to sink this in.

You credit much of your success to Women Who Code Delhi. How important is such a community in a student's life?

WWCD has been an integral part of my life since the time I joined the community. Anyone who has seen me closely, knows how much this community means to me. Organising events has always been the thing that I look up to and love doing. The most interesting part about being a WWCD organiser is that I never feel as if I am working for it, I really have fun doing it and it comes naturally to me.

There have been times when my friends have asked about how do I find the time to contribute so actively to this community, despite the busy college calendar, research work and coding hackathons, and in my answer, I have always shown them the extremely sweet messages I have gotten from attendees of the sessions/webinars, the first-time speakers that I've mentored, my mentees under the WWCD Mentorship Programme etc. Knowing that my efforts have been successful in bringing about a change in even a few lives makes me super happy. This way of contributing towards ameliorating lives gives me immense satisfaction.

This, I believe, is because this community's vision resonates with the causes I connect deeply with, causes I am really passionate to work around.

Visiting Facebook headquarters must have been a lifetime opportunity. Can you sum up the mood there? How did you manage to reach there?

I won the Facebook F8 scholarship, wherein I was invited to attend Facebook F8 annual conference at San Jose, and had the opportunity to hear Mark Zuckerberg speak from very close proximity. During the conference, I met many senior leaders working at Menlo Park and we discussed about various things, ranging from interesting projects, to upcoming technologies. And to my delight, I was further invited to visit the Facebook Headquarters in the coming days for getting an insight into the cutting-edge work being done there. That happened to be one of the first times I was visiting any office space, and so it was a really cherishable experience.

Then came the Google experience in Bangalore. How was the selection process?

It was an off-campus procedure for me. After the resume screening, I had back-to-back coding interviews lined up, majorly focussing on Data Structures and Algorithms, which I cleared and got the offer. The internship was nothing less than a dream!

What are your career plans? In another ten years, where do you think you will be?

I plan to pursue a career in IT and hope to see myself working in path-breaking technologies, trying to make a positive impact in whatever I do.

In the article, you mentioned about your change in character, from an introvert to extrovert. How did this happen? What was the turning point?

I don’t recall any ‘turning point’ as such, but I feel it was rather a gradual process, which started off by taking the stage for events at school, and conducting sessions across the city.

Being an active member of various communities has given me the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people out there, who inspired me throughout and motivated me to strive towards my goals.

Apart from networking; organising, collaborating and speaking at meet-ups indeed shaped up my personality to a great extent.

Be it the butterflies in my stomach the first time I was organising an event, or the boosted self-confidence after organising a couple of meetups, or that amazing feeling of pulling off a great event; each of these experiences has taught me a lot about working in a team, learning from each other, channelising our efforts in the right directions individually and then coming in a team to put it all together perfectly.

Habits play a big role in shaping one's character and hence one's career. What as per you are those habits of yours (minimum 1, maximum 5) which has helped you reach where you are currently?

  • Unquenched thirst for learning
  • Perseverance
  • Passion for STEM
  • Unflinched pursuing of set goals
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