Saturday, Dec 17, 2016

I had been once asked during an interview, “What is this GitHub profile that you mention?” referring to the section that occupied most of the resume. I tried explaining it to them (one of whom was an IITian) on their laptop as a place where you hosted your code.

Laptop and Magic Cube

I recalled the time when I had first started publishing on it, and most people were doing certification courses conducted in the college. The idea had seemed contradictory to the process of developing software: figuring out problems and adapting to change. It felt queer; how long would something like a JS certification be relevant? Moreover, one of the perks of learning programming is that you can get up and running pretty quickly. It was difficult to learn anything better than from active online communities and often finding help about technologies from the people who actually built them.

There weren’t many companies that came to college that year. I ended up having an offer from Capgemini without having been asked anything about my work. It made me want all the more to go about looking for stuff. There were indeed better work cultures and better software; it was natural that there were people who loved what they did. I couldn’t find many others among peers who would take that path as a necessity and not a mere possibility. And no wonder, I wasn’t a very good advertiser for the off-campus sitch when asked about it:

“Great! Do you have a plan?” “Well, no…” (Because projects!)

You couldn’t get more candid to show employers what you could do than actually doing it.

Unlike my batchmates, I received the CG offer letter without any calls or going through forms or hoops. It was the only one which had Vikhroli as the centre, 30% closer than the ubiquitous Airoli. And yet, somehow, it didn’t hurt rejecting it (other than justifying it to friends who all thought it outlandish).

I continued working building a few more web projects, exploring Android and building on what I knew in Python. I realized later, that what I had been doing would be, in job search terms, called ‘building a profile’. But it didn’t feel any different from what I’d always done. The ever inquisitive Destin Sandlin had once said,

In a world of talkers, you need to be a thinker and a doer.

Obviously I didn’t fathom the job application process, but I could more or less see the barrier. Because the screening stage isn’t predictable, a good profile for freshers isn’t a guarantee; it is generally more efficient to bypass the stage altogether with more direct means like referrals, communication and tests, or the more awesome ones like Stack Overflow reputation or competitions.

Around the same time, preparations were on to visit my elder brother abroad, our first foreign tour; and I didn’t want to go just then. Another dismay wave was coming up from acquaintances, the third since last year. “You aren’t going? But why?” It was a given, the whole family would be going to meet my brother and visit the place he had been living so long. And at the perfect time too, father’s retirement and my graduation. But I was too much into my work to give much thought to anything else. It was difficult to justify what felt obvious to my mind. It would have been my first flight, so maybe I was just a toad in a well to not be excited. It was hard to convince mother, “How would it feel without the little one there?” I assured her that I anyway wouldn’t add much to the ‘fun’ element. And like every year, brother would be visiting at the end of this year too. I thought that meanwhile, it would be reckless to miss any possible opportunities.

And one of them came, just before their departure, the call for interview through a test I had given. I went on for my first off-campus experience at last. I was struck by their work culture. One wouldn’t know that open source projects like these existed here in India. We had quite a long talk, and at a point the company founder asked, “How is it that you don’t have a job yet?” At that moment, whether I got the job or not was of little importance. It meant that I had all along chosen rightly enough to land at the place I desired.

I joined the following week, and there wasn’t a single dull day during my stay here. Within the first week, I got to make a microblogging app and be a part of the company’s dev workshop and international conference. During their trip, my parents and I both had new experiences to share, but it was wonderful that they liked mine better.