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Trust your skills, success will follow

Since the very beginning, I have been a follower of the ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ strategy. My parents have given me freedom of choice at all stages of life.

During my childhood, I literally explored everything I possibly could: classical dance, classical music lawn tennis, painting, swimming and what not. I must say all of this apart from excellent academics. And I have enjoyed every bit of these. But when it came to a career choice, it boiled down to sciences, considering my academia. I was always fascinated by mathematics and knew since the beginning that at least biology was not meant for me. So following my gut, I took up PCM, worked hard and secured a rank <10k in JEE mains. Now, came the tough part.

As I said, being a ‘jack of all trades’, it was difficult for me to decide which stream I wanted to pursue. I landed up at NIT Kurukshetra, Information Technology, by more destiny, than choice.

I was a bit apprehensive before joining. I was never that much into coding or tech-related stuff, and had seen some of my peers achieving accolades already. But I just kept faith in my capabilities. During my first year, I kept my passion for dance alive by joining the college crew. But, I started to worry whether I was in the right field or not. As was expected, some people had prior programming experience. And for a complete beginner like me, the comparison was only making things worse. All I said to myself was “Keep Going”. With some hard work, I could fare well in my exams. Hence, by the end of the first year, at least the doubt of making a wrong choice was no longer there.

During my third semester, we had our core subjects. I put in all my efforts and started to enjoy algorithms. I even started with competitive programming, but somehow, I could never ace it. And yet again, “comparison” started to take its toll. I was starting to accept that maybe others are better than me, and that I would never be able to win this “race” that we are all into.

One thing, however, is etched onto me. No matter how many times you fail, never ever give up.

This continued till the end of the semester as well, and it appeared as though I had reached a plateau stage- despite consistent efforts, I couldn’t see any progress in my coding skills. To top it all, my academics were also not in a great state. The turning point in my life came on February 28, 2019.

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A coding competition was organised in the institute, by Fidelity Investments, specifically for sophomore girls. Before starting with it, I was mentally prepared that there were better girls than me and my teammate, and that there was no point thinking of the results. The funniest part: we WON the competition. No one, not even we ourselves could imagine this happening. It was only on this day that I realised, I am no less than anyone out there. Believing in yourself is the most fundamental principle that one should follow.

Not only that, comparison is good only as long as it is in the form of inspiration. This competition ultimately landed me an internship opportunity at Fidelity- yes, the first in my batch to grab an offer, that too even before the internship season began. The gained confidence persuaded me to apply for other opportunities for summer 2019. The next big thing: I was lucky enough to be accepted into IIT Hyderabad as a research intern. As they say,” You fall seven times, only to get up the eighth time." My life was finally moving in the right direction, I believed.

After a while, I became active on LinkedIn. I got to see a plethora of things that people my age were engaged in. And yet again, “comparison”. This made me realise how narrow my vision was restricted only to classroom knowledge. I was not even half as good as the people of my batch. People were active in communities, mentoring students and contributing to open source. I started to ponder as to whether I was “industry-ready” or not.

LinkedIn proved to be quite inspirational for me, this time I could convert this comparison to something healthy. So, I joined Women Who Code, Delhi. This was the point where I realised the power of “community”. Being a member, I came to know about a lot of opportunities and even attended a meet-up.

One needs to appreciate even the little steps they take, because one day, when you look back, you realise that you have actually come a long way. Currently, I am a member of Girlscript Kurukshetra, have had my first ever medium blog published under Girlscript Haryana, a Beta-level Microsoft Student partner, and very recently, a Python mentor for "Code with AnitaB.org" group. After all, in computer science, everything starts with a 0.

I may not be the best in my field, but I am still proud of all the small achievements I’ve had. There’s a long way to go, and I will still keep pushing my boundaries without doubting my capabilities.

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