July, 2019, I entered a campus with a thousand dreams, after having some of them shattered over the last 2-3 years. It wasn't exactly the place I had envisioned to be but there was no place for regrets now. Started with the first few months going towards adjusting to life outside the comforts of home. Sat through some boring Ethics and EVS classes as I looked forward to the Python programming class. Felt completely lost as to what I should do with the term "ML" being used in every other sentence by people around me. Learned about the zillion coding clubs and chapters that existed on the campus and dreamed to be in some of them. Then found some comfort in solving "Problem of the Day" on the college's official coding platform. After having my ears at all places, heard of the term "Competitive Coding" for the first time and hopped on to Codechef to try my hands in. New dream unlocked - get 5 stars on the platform. But I struggled while some of my friends breezed through. Meanwhile, randomly followed along with a blog coding tutorial on YouTube and got hooked on the world of building, leading to getting a full-stack developer course on Udemy, but spent time on it in patches. March 2020 - 8 months into the journey and had to come back home with COVID going berzerk. Spent the time off completing the Udemy course and on-and-off sessions on CodeChef.
Got a decent hands-on with Node, Express and EJS. But hadn't built something of my own yet. Learned of this fancy thing called Angular and again, followed along with a tutorial. Probably not the best decision as the learning curve was steep with things like Typescript, RxJs, and Services flowing over the head. So, decided to build a classic Weather App to test myself. Came through pretty well and got some confidence. Meanwhile, my Codechef graph kept dwindling with my inconsistency. Wasn't really enjoying writing code to get some numbers as output but rather liked to see them turn into something meaningful. So, decided to put it into the back seat. Learned about React. Got a course. Enjoyed it more than Angular and hence made the switch. Made my first MERN stack app. Participated in a college hackathon, the first for myself. Built a chatbot for the first time. Ended up grabbing the second place. Got an internship offer from the company that had organized the track. Meanwhile, made my first few bucks writing technical articles after getting leads from a friend. Jan'21 - May'21: Participated in 4 more hackathons. Didn't win, but got into the final rounds of a few. Also started my part-time internship at Gravitas AI.
Missed the Microsoft Engage Program mail and was devastated. Also, had a terrible 4th sem so my CGPA dropped quite a bit. But then, companies started coming to campus to hire summer interns for 2022. The first was Microsoft. Cleared the test. Sat through three rounds of interviews. Next came Motorq. Again, cleared the test and gave the interviews. Had left competitive coding a while ago, but some practice on Leetcode saved me, and a few days later, results for the first few companies were announced. I got into Microsoft, and I was elated. Meanwhile, finally got a client on Upwork after trying for months. Created a small MVP for his idea, and thus started my freelance journey. Worked on 4 more projects after that, all international clients, over the next 8 months and made some pocket money for me, along with learning a lot of new things including writing code for production-grade applications. Got the feel of working remotely. Also, as COVID had started to rest a bit, and to cure the effects of being at home for over 1.5 years, took a nice little trip to Ladakh. March'22 - went back to campus after exactly 2 years and decided to take things a little easy and enjoy for some time.
Summer started with my internship at Microsoft. But not everything goes perfectly and so Microsoft decided to host the interns virtually as it slowly moved to a hybrid approach. I got into the Whiteboard Windows team, but my work required frontend (React) skills. Luckily, I had some of that so had a lot of fun (as much as I could working remotely. Read about the internship experience here). Meanwhile, I had been selected for JPMC Code for Good hackathon, the company's hiring program for freshers. Spent a nice weekend on the 24-hour hackathon while being sick. Built the complete backend of a full-stack solution. Ended up winning the hackathon. College kicked in again. It was placement season. Spent time on Leetcode as I waited for my PPO result from Microsoft. Had to give two more interviews. Meanwhile, took the test for Airbnb as it came on campus. Couldn't clear it. Before I could take any other test, got the JPMC results and I got the offer, therefore, could not sit further for placements. But then, also got the PPO from Microsoft. I had to choose. I chose the latter. But due to the market conditions, Microsoft decided not to host 6-month interns. And so I went on internship hunting. Applied to 50+ companies, primarily startups, but didn't get anything. Felt devasted. When I had given up hope and almost embraced a 6-month tenure at home, got a lead from a friend about PagarBook, a SaaS startup where I finally got in. Spent Jan 23-May 23 in the office, working as a backend developer on Node.js. My performance led to another PPO, a better offer than what I have from Microsoft. I again had to choose, but for multiple reasons, I again went with the latter, thus ending a wonderful experience. And then, on a random Wednesday, as I got the grades for my final semester project, I completed my college journey.