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Success belongs to those who dare

Ambika Arora describes herself as a “girl who hides a lot of emotions behind her smile”. Ambika, who has rapidly climbed success stairs, says things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out. A Microsoft Student Partner, Ambika loves to crack Hackathons. She is also mentoring many of her juniors into the world of tech. She is all set to intern @ Linkedin this summer.

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Read all about her story.

Since school days, I just wanted to succeed in things I love to do. But my luck always held me back. It’s said that hard work pays off, but I think that’s not the case with everyone! Sometimes luck plays a major role in your life’s journey to achieve your goals.

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Till Class VII, I lived a normal life, without thinking much about my career, my passion. Like a normal child, I had a long list of what I wanted to be when I grew up! One of them was to become a dancer and I was very much passionate about it. But in class IX, I realized what brings the real zeal in me. One of the teachers in my school never liked me as I was not one of her brightest kids as I did not score well in her subject. From my point of view, the parents-teachers meeting is doomsday for every kid but not in my case as every teacher used to appreciate me, barring one. I remember this particular parents-teacher meeting of my life when that teacher of mine told my father “Ambika won’t be able to succeed in her life as her attitude is not right towards her “academics”, and that too in front of that kid who barely knew the real meaning of success. My father didn’t say anything to me, but those words pierced right through my childish heart of mine, as a subject can’t decide my capabilities. Since then, I started working very hard on my skills and my academics.

"Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out." I become the merit scholar for three consecutive years (10th, 11th, and 12th). Everyone in my school started to know me and that teacher who had told my father about me was somewhat not happy as I had turned the tables (but I am thankful to you for those so not motivating words which ignited the flames in me). Every teacher praised my parents and said they were proud of me. I cracked both JEE mains and JEE advanced, but landed up in IGDTUW. As I said hard work is not always paid off. Knowing I will not be able to survive in this college still I accepted the college believing that maybe this will be better for me as God had given me this way.

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So here begins a new journey in my life! New roads, new people new experiences. All I had with me were my hard-earned knowledge (my Google map) and the trust I had in myself.

In the first year, I started exploring myself, my interests, and my skills. I took part in many societies just to know what I wanted in my life. ( Look at me, still not sure about it). I was always passionate about dance so I thought this would be the best way to try it. I was selected in the dance society of IGDTUW. In the beginning, I liked it but in just two weeks I gave it up. As I figured out I had my interest somewhere else. I had C++ in my 11th and 12th class so I thought I should start coding in that language. I started that in my first semester and continued it until my second semester without any guidance.

I realized I needed some guidance so after thinking about it I joined Coding Blocks as it was the institute of Vidya Mandir Classes itself and VMC held a special corner in my heart. So I thought why shouldn’t I give it a try. Then I was in a dilemma whether to opt for JAVA or C++. Since I wanted to learn something new so I joined JAVA data structures and algorithm batch which later came out to be the best decision of my life. After doing that course I got an opportunity to work as a teaching assistant in the next batch. I accepted this offer. I used to take guidance from mentors, other students at coding blocks as they provided such a great platform to connect with like-minded people and explore your skills. Later on, I did a machine learning course from them and started working on different projects from then. I had made both personal and professional bonds until the end of my second year.

In February of my second year of college, I was struggling to get an internship for summers in any company so that I could explore my skills further. I had applied to many companies but faced many rejections one after the other. I was dealing with some sort of personal stress which was already eating me up from inside and these rejections came like bummers which lead to me going into depression for about two months. I was feeling like I was left alone in this world as somewhere my trust and capabilities were questioned again! Then my mom held me at that time and said to me ‘ No one in this world is trustworthy don’t affect your mental health due to some reason or the other’. My father motivated me “ You are facing rejections at this point in life don’t feel bad about it is a good sign. These are making you strong. These are giving you life lessons. So what you didn’t make it but at least you tried.” My friends motivated me and stood by my side all the time. They always used to say that “you are our inspiration Ambika and one day you will get what you want as we know that you deserve something much better so don’t lose your heart and just carry on and take this as a challenge".

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Still, I wasn’t ready to accept things and were questioning and doubting myself again and again. One day in my college there was an event of the Human Library by Rotaract club. In that library, there came one professor whose stories were somewhat similar to mine, but I didn’t have the courage to talk to him as I was already feeling very low, but my friends insisted. So, having gathered my all courage, I finally went for a talk with him. He asked me many questions and I told him about the situation I was going through. He then said me one thing, if you know you are capable, there would surely be a day when you would get it. If you are getting rejection just remember one thing it’s not your loss it’s their loss. This statement changed perspective. Since then I developed a more optimistic personality and my confidence also increased. I started working again. I started talking to people again and started socializing.

It’s said, “Success belongs to those who dare”.

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Then my friend asked me if I was interested in an opportunity in IIT Delhi. Without knowing about what it was I just said yes. We cleared the selection procedure and finally, I was an intern under Celestini program India at IIT Delhi. It was like a dream as in March I was struggling with what would I do in summers but in April I got this. It was the happiest day of my life. I thanked God, my parents, and my friends who always supported me in my good and bad times.

Now came the time for my campus selections. I sat for campus internships in my third year and still rejections but this time my thinking had changed. I was sad but at the same time, I was having a belief that God has something better for me. I got an internship which was not that satisfying, but I had an offer so I accepted it. I started mentoring my juniors, guiding them. I started taking technical sessions under different communities in Delhi and in my college too. I developed my skills, participated in different hackathons in 3rd year. Then in January 2020, I got an opportunity to participate in LinkedIn Wintathon 2020 (All-Girl Hackathon at the LinkedIn office, Bangalore). Without expecting much we just worked on our project. Our teamwork paid off and we won the Hackathon. That was the moment I was in a surprise and I couldn’t believe it. But it was the truth of the moment. We had actually won the Hackathon and got summer Internships at LinkedIn. Later on, in January, I became a Microsoft Student Partner too. Thus getting another chance to work for the community and helping my peers.

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I am still working towards helping people like me. Sometimes life seems to be very unfair and we become a victim of something bad or we are not lucky enough as others. But the truth is everyone faces some sort of rejections in their life, it’s we who always see one side of the story and don’t see the struggle behind the things the person has achieved. If you set your goals ridiculously high and it's a failure, you will fail above everyone else's success.

We should always remember that if it is meant to be for us, it will reach us, one way or the other. If we are facing any rejections we should not take it in our heart, instead, we should take it as a challenge and work on it. We should never stop by any rejection or fear. One should always try and try until we succeed as one day will definitely be yours and you will achieve what you have dreamt of. You just need to have faith in yourself and the courage to face reality. To be successful in life one must have a definite goal and a burning desire to achieve it.

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Everyone sees that I am a girl who is always smiling and laughing but the truth is I am the girl who is hiding a lot of emotions behind her smile and just spreading the positivity to other people to motivate them and cherish their lives.

I said that people always say that hard work pays off and it’s true, your hard work will pay off. You just need to believe in your work and just be ready for that one day. That one day will change your life forever.

And remember this: “The starting point of all achievements is desire”.

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Tell us about IGDTUW where you seem to have had a blast of sorts.

Being from an all-girl institute IGDTUW (Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women) has given me a community of like-minded girls that no other institute can ever provide it. IGDTUW has provided us with good placements, good internships, and taught us how to be independent, help your peers and fight for your rights. In the beginning, I didn’t like to be in this college but now it has become the best part of my life.

You joined Coding Blocks and how was the experience? How important were coding lessons at that stage in your life?

Joining Coding Blocks has been one of the best decisions of my life. It has given me a life-changing experience. Before joining it I was not confident about myself but after joining it, my confidence has elevated with my coding skills. My one of the longest journeys, from student to campus ambassador, to teaching assistant, to intern is with coding blocks and it has been very close to my heart. I joined them in my first year of college during my summer vacation. I thought I had joined late, but it’s never late to start coding. The coding lessons I got then helped me every time I applied for an internship with any company.

You talked about your internship at the Celestini program in India at IIT Delhi. Tell us about it and how was the screening process?

Celestini Program India is a program that is hosted every year in summers at IIT Delhi. This program is sponsored by Google and Marconi Society. It is a product-based internship as you have to do research on the problem statements and build your project to solve the problem. It is a team internship. You apply for it as a team. The first round is a 36-hour hackathon consisting of 5 sections including questions on machine learning, probability, analytical skills, and ideation part. The second round was the interview round with the professors of IIT Delhi and Google Research Scientist. After this round, if you are selected then you get to work on your idea for about 3 months in the summers at IIT Delhi.

In the article, you talk about the importance of mentoring young students. How important is hand-holding in the tech field? How has the overall response and quality of young students?

Mentoring always plays an important role in the growth of an individual. We always grow by lifting others. If I am able to guide/ mentor even one student then I am able to give back to the community. It always works in a cycle imparting knowledge, not only helps your peers but also helps in our growth too. I have mentored my peers in technical and non-technical fields. I have always received a good response from them and seeing them grow in their life is the best feeling ever. It gives you strength, responsibility, and motivation to work for them and help them in their growth.

Finally, tell us five of your habits of which you are proud of?

  • Trying to be optimistic in any situation of my life.
  • Always being available for my peers and juniors.
  • Being Practical
  • Competing with myself
  • Networking: Socialising with people, talking with them about ourselves and our our ideas will make us realise a lot about ourselves, even things which we ourselves are not aware of. It helps us shape our goals better and achieve them.

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