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Explained: Ananya’s road to STEP Intern @ Google

Ananya Jain took to coding at the school–level itself, and that has helped her eventually make her decide about her career. Studying all along in all-woman institutions, life and academic career have been very different for Ananya. At every stage in her life, she took ideal steps to go into the next level. Making use of online resources, she pushed herself hard to make it big in life. Though there is a long way to go, Ananya has cracked her first big thing by qualifying for STEP Intern at Google.

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I was in Class IX when I was introduced to coding, that is Java. Of course, it is difficult to understand something, you have no prior domain knowledge of. At first, it seemed to me as a burden in life but I tried my best to grasp the concepts of the language. As time passed, I attained much affinity for the subject.

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At this point in life, many students are not sure of their careers they want to pursue, and I too was in the same boat. Of course, I loved to code but ‘I never wanted to be a part of a rat race'. Unfortunately, I had no other choice, other than competing among the candidates of the JEE entrance exam. Having studied in a girls’ school since childhood, it was somewhat intimidating for me to opt for a career where a majority of students belong to the male category and I was the person who had never even borrowed a pen from a boy. I was not at all aware of the fact that a massive competition was brewing.

Nevertheless, I worked hard and secured a feasible rank in JEE. I also achieved full marks in Computer Science in my 12th ISC Boards, converting my affinity for the subject into a passion. I got admission at Asia’s first woman-only engineering university, Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University For Women with Computer Science engineering as my opted stream. What I got is definitely not an IIT, but that no less inferior. My dream to study in a co-education institution hit a stumbling block again.

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From the first year itself, I started working hard for the placements. After contacting my seniors and attending sessions organized on our campus, I realized that the prerequisites asked by the companies are to build strong concepts on Data Structures and Algorithms, including some project work in your area of interest. I joined some tech as well as non-tech societies to boost up my management and leadership skills. Since I already had experience in Java,I started solving problems on online coding platforms and regularly participated in coding contests. Since I did not have strong basics, I felt little difficulty in solving the problems and understanding the root of concepts, therefore I searched for some online resources and got enrolled in a DS and Algo course in my summer vacations just after my first year. Sometimes, I felt demotivated, but my mentors, friends and seniors never allowed me to quit and were a constant support to me.

After the completion, of course, I started feeling confident and again started my journey of participating in weekly online contests. It became my daily habit of giving at least 4-5 hours in coding practice. I also secured good positions in some contests which also boosted up my resume. Now, coding was no longer a headache for me.

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I explored all the technologies, contributed to some open-source projects and found my keen interest in Flutter development. I searched for some online resources to learn Flutter. As Flutter is new, there was no proper guidance available to seek guidance. To get rid of the bugs, I joined some Flutter channels on Facebook, Slack and other communities. Community plays a vital role in your overall development. There was always someone or the other to help me out whenever I posted my issues on these channels. I also participated in Hackathons and tried to build some impactful projects. Here, I felt that Hackathons are the best way to learn, develop and achieve your goal in a limited amount of time provided. Participation is itself an achievement. I didn't secure any position in any Hackathon but the knowledge I gained was immense.

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When I was in the second year, I heard that Google visited our campus for the first time in history. Now, my aim was to get placed in Google. I rigorously started practising every day. A few months ago, my seniors acknowledged me about the on-going applications for step interns at Google. Step Intern (Summer Training in Engineering Programme) is basically designed for first and second-year undergraduates who are early in their careers. Definitely I applied for it, but I was not at all sure that my resume would get shortlisted. After applying to it, a month later, I received a call from a recruiter at Google that they would conduct two interviews with me in the upcoming week from then.

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The thought of giving my first interview in life, that too with global major like, gave me goosebumps. I did my best in both of them. My first interview went excellent but the second interview was not up to the mark. The stress factor played its part until the positive results were announced a week later.

Now I will soon intern at Google India office in my summer vacations. I am hoping to have a wonderful experience among Googlers.

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It’s always good to introduce #coding or other such languages in the school itself. Looking back, how much that may have influenced you later in your life? What do you think about introducing technical subjects so early in a student’s life?

It gave me a head-start from other students who were new to this field. When others were building their basics, seeking for proper guidance and resources to start with, I had already begun working on advanced problems/concepts. Definitely technical subjects should be introduced early. Many students with no prior technical knowledge opt for this field just because of its demand, without considering their own interest. Introduction to computer science in the school itself will help them develop logic thinking and choose their career wisely.

All along your career, you have studied in all-girl institutions. What are the pros and cons?

All-girl institutions make us more confident and as we only need to compete against only one gender. As per the mindset of many people, some tasks need to be fulfilled by boys , but here we get more opportunities either be it to manage the sponsors/events or the whole fest. Being among the crowd of girls, everyone get acknowledged of every golden opportunity specialised for women in tech like contests, scholarships,events organized only for women. Also,there might be fewer number of distractions resulting in more focusing on academics. On the other hand, we might feel intimidated on communicating with the boys, not able to share our views openly, resulting in communication barriers. The real competition in the outside world may be much larger than visible to us since the count of the competitors increases.

They say there are not many women in coding. When you entered the scene, how was it like to break the ceiling?

I have always been surrounded by many women in tech, but still it is the harsh reality that the overall count is less. It feels empowering when you achieve something competing against the majority of men. It is the mentality of some people that ‘Tech is not for women’ but now this needs to be abolished. I would encourage every woman to participate in every event they can and balance the ratio of gender.

What sort of preparation did you undertake for STEP Intern? Tell us a bit about STEP Intern and how does it work?

I was mainly focussed on problem-solving skills using Data Structures and Algorithms. As shortlisting of candidates was based on resume, I built a resume reflecting strong coding skills by participating in many online contests and building some simple projects. Simultaneously, practising for at least 3-4 hours on online coding platforms like Interviewbit,Leetcode was my daily routine to develop logic thinking. STEP Internship (Student Training in Engineering Program) is basically designed for first and second-year students with a passion for Computer Science. It focuses on providing development opportunities to students underrepresented in tech, through technical training and professional development along with other STEP interns and full-time Googlers, and also narrows the gap between academic understanding and practical experience.

What are your career plans? Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

My career goal is to be a Software Developer Engineer in a company where I can grow myself both personally and professionally and take on new challenges/interesting projects over time, working with people with whom I can really learn from. Through my degree in Computer Science and personal interests, I have discovered a passion for finding and building practical solutions to technical problems. In the next 10 years, I would like to be recognized as an expert in this sector with successful end-to-end project management experience. Being new to the industry, I’d like to gain valuable insight and experience.

Tell us about those habits of yours
which you are proud of?

I am a childhood follower of 5D formula

  • Determination -- I am always motivated towards my desired goal instead of obstacles faced by me
  • Dedication -- I am always punctual and regular to my work
  • Devotion -- I am always focused and committed towards my work
  • Discipline--Working obediently under stress and pressure has always been my nature
  • Duty -- I am always dutiful towards the work assigned to me.

Practising these five habits resulted in a key to success for me.

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