A Developer’s Story – Vinit Shahdeo

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Vinit’s story is definitely one that can inspire everyone – no matter your failures, risks and setbacks, you can always power through everything and reach where you want by working towards your dream, one day at a time. Vinit is a Software Engineer at Postman, who found Geektrust and reached out to appreciate what we do, and in the process we ended up appreciating his grit and approach to work and life. So here is the story of how he came to be a developer and what his ideas and dreams are.

How did you start coding and what about programming gives you a kick?

Way back in my school days, I came across new online spaces and tech products like Orkut and Facebook and many common apps, I used to wonder how these ideas come to life and how exactly they work. I wanted to learn computer science from the best college in India – the IITs. 

However, I didn’t get into the IITs and got admission into VIT, that too not for CompSci, but for IT. I didn’t make it, I thought. I was compromising on my dreams and I was rather disappointed by the turn of events.

I was soon proved wrong to think that way, just when was getting started. I found out to my surprise that VIT has a thriving tech community that ran coding clubs, innovation wings, participated in hackathons and you name it. There is CodeChef, the competitive coding chapter of VIT and there’s VinnovateIT, the innovation lab. There were helpful seniors who took their mentoring and the co-curricular activities very seriously.

I interviewed to join the tech team for CodeChef, and only got into the design team. But I was soon able to learn and switch to the tech team. With good mentoring and encouragement, I started coding, made a very simple personal website, made it live and felt glad. I made something of my own and it was out there in the world. 

From there it was an explosion of taking part in projects, hackathons and seminars with the single agenda of learning as much as I can and getting as good as possible. Here was an opportunity that opened up when I thought I compromised on my IIT dream and it was better than anything I imagined. The VinnovateIT team was working on AI/ML based projects. They made a smart watch, they made other products that combined software and hardware. It was all like magic – very advanced and highly motivating too.

I realised a college admission is nothing to get dejected over and whatever I wanted to be, I could make it all happen right here. I started coding regularly, solving practice problems on Hackerrank and other sites. At the start I took 3 days to solve a single problem and I thought, what am i doing with my life!

I decided I will code every single day. I saw that with consistency and regular coding, my accuracy and speed increased.

So I started building my online profile – GitHub and blog besides my coding projects in college. Slowly, I saw that it helped not only me, but others as well. For one, when I see how much work I put in, how many challenges solved, how many badges earned etc, it helped me see how far I have come. The bonus was, total strangers approached me and asked how I solved a certain problem or how I thought a certain way. I was getting appreciated for my work. This is really important and I strongly recommend everyone make their profile and make a record of their work online. This is what gives me the satisfaction – the fact that my work can reach and help others too, while I get to learn and share my learning.

How did your coding shape up after the start?

I worked really hard in college and learnt and improved so much that my seniors noticed my work, called me for a board interview and selected me as President of VinnovateIT. That was already something I never imagined would happen. I had just started out and it was already time for me to mentor my juniors?

It was a really tough and intimidating a task. I couldn’t be in my comfort zone and choose only what I wanted to do. I had the responsibility to make sure we as a team did amazing things. We participated in many events including 5 hackathons, 3 of which we won! I learnt a lot about teamwork, leadership, being a family and helping each other do their best. I made sure I assigned tasks and people got the help required to complete those tasks. We even organised inter-college coding competitions, which was like fun, learning and responsibility all rolled into one. 

And then it was time to find a job. I had a rollercoaster experience where I got rejected by 22 companies from Microsoft to Dell, Optum, Shell, OneDirect, Instamojo etc. That was a crazy time. Each day started with my going out for interviews and ended with my coming back to the hostel around 11 PM with a rejection after rounds of interviews. The main reason was that though I cleared the coding rounds, I wasn’t good at giving convincing explanations of how I solved the problem through code. I took this as feedback. Each day I went back and faced the team of developers at VIT that I was a part of, and drew a lot of strength from them.

During this time, the code profile I built online and what I built at VIT gave me the confidence and courage to keep going to find what I really wanted and what was right for me. Eventually, I got selected as an intern at Postman, and now I am a Software Engineer here!

Technology I love to work with

It is Javascript. I love all kind of JS frameworks. It’s very cool; you can do anything with it. It has been here for long and will stay for at least another 10 years because it evolves as much as you keep developing with it. With open source contributions and everything, it’s an endless sea of new and interesting things coming up every day for you to grab and work with.

Some interesting challenges you have worked on

In college, I took up the task of automating the recruitment process for VinnovateIT. It’s just a college group but it had a rigorous selection process. Application forms collected via Google Forms, code tests on paper, collating results – there were a few tedious steps. I automated this whole process and brought it online. It was a tough task at that time. We did several other projects also during this time, each a learning experience both in tech and soft skills. We always made it a point to solve real life problems, so that the solution will be used by at least hundreds of people and we get enough context to learn from our projects.

Once I started working, every day of the first 6 months was a challenge and I enjoyed every minute of it. I realised despite all the prep I did in college, there is no comparison between college projects and real world projects. To start with, the scale is so vastly different and a lot of coding approaches you take are centered around that. I wasn’t very knowledgeable but I have a good mentor and I learnt every day, built new features, learnt to do end-to-end delivery and take ownership of my work. The tech work itself is challenging and the experience is a different kind of challenge.

Advice to your younger self or others

Just code and improve, day by day.

You might think you are not good. Or you are just a beginner and when are you going to get to a good level. There is no secret sauce. You just have to do it by understanding concepts, implementing them and improving your craft day by day until you get there. And then you keep doing it without stopping ever. That’s the only secret.

Sticking to only classroom and self learning is very limiting. Not just in coding, but also in how you think, how you open up to ideas, how you approach problem solving. Participate in competitions, connect with developers and learn from everyone. 

Creating and maintaining your profile and repository of work is also really important. You might think this is too simple a project, why should I put it on GitHub. But the truth is, someone will benefit from it, no matter how sure you are that it’s not good enough. And even you will learn from your past self in the future.

Always choose the more challenging tasks, go after them and solve them, take ownership and own the pipeline.

Thoughts on Indian tech

The Indian tech industry has always been leading and growing impressively. The people – Indian engineers – have been working in all corners of the world, at the biggest and nichest companies. Now, we have our own big tech companies. You’ll be amazed. Even Postman, for example, I had no idea they are an Indian company, but all 3 founders are from India. I am proud of this.

Startup or MNC

I would choose startups because you go from the start, through all phases of product conception, development, delivery, feedback and improvement. There is more knowledge transfer at smaller companies. I think that’s the kind of environment I will work best in.

Some of the highs you experienced in your life/career

I am very close to my grandmother. The first job I got was at Bank of America. I called her up on video call and broke the news to her. The smile and tears of joy I saw on her face that day – I have never experienced something like that. It is undoubtedly the happiest experience I have ever had. These are the joys for which we live.

The other part I like about work is when I am able to help others and mentor juniors through what I learn. It is an amazing feeling to be able to help someone else.

That’s Vinit sharing his journey so far into the world of programming. Looking at him, we know he is going to always go further than where his imagination takes him, since that’s how things have panned out so far. And hope his story inspires you to go after your dreams as well!

About Geektrust

Geektrust is a platform for technologists to find interesting opportunities and shape the future of tech. We meet inspiring people and companies in our work, and we see some great code written by our users. So we started the Dev Stories series, to bring stories of different developers to the world. Hope you enjoy reading them as much as we love writing them.

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