I don’t belong to the cream of our country but I am a decently good student, always being at top 5 ranks in school and scored a rank of 1511 in EAMCET. I took ECE in a college listed in top-50 colleges in India. Even though I took ECE, coding has always fascinated me and I developed a huge interest in software development. I wasn’t interested to do a Masters in electronics as I wanted to explore the world out of books and pursue my passion for coding. I got placed in an Indian MNC in a campus interview, and with a lot of dreams, I stepped-in the company.
Let me talk about the pros first as there aren’t many. Most of them helped me to transform from a student to an employee:
- I got deployed in Noida, which helped me to go out of my comfort zone and meet new people and explore the other side of India.
- Working in such cross-culture helped me improve my communication skills more than any of my school or college life summed together.
- Working with the client directly made me confident and I realized software is not just coding but a lot of business around it.
Now coming to cons. I am only speaking about cons on how job affected my career, but not how job affected my life like being in Noida, away from family, food, shelter blab-blab:
- I have always liked C-language but in the job, I wasn’t given a choice and was directly put into Java training. The training was very basic and no-way serious. They spent 3 months to teach what you can learn out of books in a week or two.
- Then I spent 2 months on the bench. I wasn’t sure what to learn in that free time as I wasn’t given any clarity about what kind of project I may be deployed into. So I read many books on Java, expecting a good hands-on development project where I can hone my programming skills.
- Then I realized my stupidity of thinking software job is just about coding when I got deployed in a support project. My first-day people laughed when I told them I want to code. Then irrelevant of my training, I was given MS Access apps to support, which are very old (developed in 2003) and outdated. This technology is no way useful to make my career. I was reluctant to take them up but my Manager pressurized me on the name of appraisal and transfer. I had to take them up and again spent almost 2 months learning MS Access and VBA, all on my own.
- Since I am the junior most in the team, I had to come in night shifts whenever necessary (at times 1 month at a stretch) and support on weekends. I never got a chance to make my hands dirty on the code. I am thrown all the crap work like documentation and excel reports, which made me almost forgot that I am a graduate with a B.Tech degree.
- On my first job anniversary, I realized I am body-first buried here with my head hopelessly staring at my sky-high dreams. My colleagues with their demotivating gyaan drag me more down. Remember, our natural personality shall be shaped-up by the people we are surrounded with. Here I only see people-taking-about-people but not about technology. I felt like a - good student demoted to lower sections in a class where he is made to sit with other under-performing students. With all due respect to my colleagues, none of us had to seriously use our brains, coz the nature of work here never demands us to. That was never the job environment I dreamt about.
- I started preparing my first professional resume but was unsure what to write. I neither have any achievements nor learning nor skills. I just sold my valuable time at a rate of 3.25 lakhs per year. I neither have job satisfaction nor money. I use to be very shy to disclose my monthly salary, as people use to smirk that I left my family and struggling like hell in Delhi, only for the sake of 20k. I still feel the same after 3 years, as there isn’t much of a hike.
- I wanted to go near my family and so asked for relocation, but my Manager lured me for on-site and promotion, as I have a dependency on the project. That worked like a Donkey-carrot for me. I wasn’t mature enough to understand these filthy politics and laboured one more year there, only to know at the end that he said the same to every team member in the project. If you work in firms like these, on-site can be your only motivation as you can bag some dollars. But remember there are a lot of ambitious crabs in the queue, pulling each other’s legs and it takes years to reach the top of that visa heap.
Finally, I am happy that I am out of this rut, as I decided to swim against the tide. One never has to accept the reality if it’s against his will. Try and search within, that makes us excited after we wake-up and makes us satisfied before we sleep. If one strongly determines to chase it, mind shows n-number of ways.
I was all alone in Delhi without family and friends. But it helped me to understand myself without any external influences. I am a creative person by nature and love writing and singing and I could clearly sense the same neurons responding while I am programming. Programming is like poetry for me and getting the desired output gives me immense creative satisfaction. I decided to be a ‘Developer’. But the reality called me back. By then, I was at-least semi-clear. Now had to decide what I should develop.
One night during a night shift, I was sitting all alone with 150 empty seats and 50 glowing lights. It was dead silent and that ambience triggered an inner voice. “I am drifting with the flow aimlessly. Time to swim”. I was only listening to myself. Time to stop repenting and start acting towards what I dream. The only solution I came up was to start tasting every technology I know, once more. I dived in the web, started collecting e-books, doing hands-on, until I have clear answers on Why-I-don’t-like-this and why-does-it-interests-me.
I hadn’t had a girl-friend and so had enough time to date with these technologies, but finally ended up with my cute ‘Android’. I have many reasons to choose it but am not going to mention here, as everyone has to find their own fit and reasons may get you biased. Rule No.1 to discover your love is to shut your ears to influences and listen to yourself (It doesn’t require ears). The day I proposed Android, I turned my desktop background to a green-bot.
Love is a free-of-cost item. But living together with commitment is so tough. I faced the same with Android. It was never easy to get the self-approval to wear the tag of ‘Android developer’. I started with a popular book bought from Amazon. But the topics in my memory use to de-queue as fast as they en-queue. Then I started preparing my own personal notes to record everything I read, like mind-mapping. Not enough, started doing hands-on exercises, developed apps. One has to constantly feed this element called ‘confidence’ with constant progress and successes or it starves and feeds on itself. I felt it’s enough fed and grown inside, time for parturition.
What’s next? It’s time to announce the world about my relationship with Android. I dared enough to write the word Android in my resume and published it in the job portals. I intentionally kept the story funny till now, as what followed from then was serious, filled with anxiety, solitude, insomnia and break-downs.
After I joined my job, I badly missed ‘Exams’, although I never liked them during my student life, they use to help me to quantize myself. But once I joined the job, every day was another day and no challenges to prove my improvement. Then I crossed this thing called ‘Interview’. Walking-in with a fake resume used to be terrifying at the start but then later it felt like a game. The first step towards thumping my fear was to forget that I was an MS Access support person. I want to be an Android developer so I should think like one. Fake it until you make it was my mantra. I attended every possible interview small or big and cracking them boosted my confidence. I use to introspect after every interview to pinpoint both my fortes and flaws.
My Android Developer resume is not built in a day. Till date, there are more than 150 version changes (I use SVN version control for my resume). I use to carefully go through the job description of every job-opening I encounter, to embed some of those terms in my resume. My resume moves first and my learning follows. I constantly expanded my comfort areas by colouring up my Grey areas, interview-after-interview. Interviews were like check-points and I had them regularly scheduled to keep myself up-and-running.
But all this enthusiasm slowly faded-up. I kept cracking interviews but not meeting the right opportunity. Reasons can be the size of the company, job location, job security etc. The bigger problem was I wasn’t busy. I had a lot of free and idle time and not enough to keep the ball rolling. I was saturated and frustrated. My brain lost its voltage as the current of thoughts were sluggish. I felt like I had known everything required. With that, I unconsciously built a shell around me, due to which I lost a very good opportunity. That was my first failure and lesson learnt at a huge cost. If the frustration friends with laziness, your graph goes down, which just had happened to me. But if you set your frustration on fire, it fuels it up like a rocket, is what happened next.
The shell around me exploded, exposing much broader space to stretch my arms. But this is just the first. The shells were like peels of onion, every level-up, to be broken. The track isn’t smooth anymore, but I decided to run over those floating-stones, like a blind-eyed-bull, no looking back and not afraid to crash.
I had to procure all relevant material myself. Android is just a skeleton and I had to build a lot of flesh in and around it. It’s not like college exams where you will have stipulated syllabus and standard books to prepare from. I had to constantly organize and heapify my new learnings and be careful not to skim into anything out-of-syllabus. Procuring material was one challenge and always keeping my plate full was another. I always had this demon thread running in the back when I start a book, what’s next after I finish it!? I had to constantly check, whatever I learn aligns in the direction I aspire and if it does, I pin that badge to my resume, with pride.
Then the experience factor came-in. As time had been progressing, my experience was increasing and the one fake project (I pulled out of my imagination and creativity) was not enough to back me up. It was a now-or-never situation. I added a little more weight to my resume with some creative ideas, but I could only survive with them for a few more months.
With screws tightening up from all directions, I am screwed and had to make a choice to stop this madness right now or make some bold moves. I was mad and so chose the latter. I dropped-off every single weight that slows me down. I stopped my passionate singing, no weekend movies, disappeared from social networks. From Delhi, I travelled all the way south to Bangalore and Hyderabad to attend interviews. In Bangalore, due to some accommodation problems, I slept 2 nights in a hospital and 2 days with 1/4th of the diet I usually take. All my suffering went in vain when I was told by HR that – “you were qualified, but it was just decided yesterday that this wing of our company will be taken over by another company and so we no more have this requirement”. It was a psychic shock and the ground shook beneath. With tear-filled eyes, I was still thinking of alternatives to meet my passion. I guess by then, my passion intensified and aggravated to an obsession.
After I returned from Bangalore to my hometown, blue in the face, my parents were very much worried about my physical as well as mental condition. Visibly I lost weight and invisibly lost a lot of confidence and hope. My Dad quickly empathized my state of depression and was constantly advising me to quit the race, but only I know that I already swum more than half and turning back would only be a suicide. He even took me to an astrologer to predict my technical future. When the chamber of courage empties, your fears quickly fill the vacuum with religious dogmas. I never believed in religion, but it makes me feel lonely when I need a push of some supernatural power to restart my engine. Well, I got to push it all by myself, to make sure I am on the track, where I know the direction but not the destination, following the rainbow, hoping it ends at a pot-of-gold, a fallacious fascination.
Success is a B**ch!! Yes, it is! It never makes a grand entry. All you got to do is to stay on the road and it crosses you like a brainless animal, mid-way, all-of-a-sudden, offending all the wait you put for it. This time I didn't feel like applying brakes and had sprunt through it, fast & furious, with all the nitro, only to realize, I never loved success, but always wanted to tame it. Well, this has just been one small animal and still lot more jumbos to encounter. This is just the Start!