A Developer’s Story: Akanksha Priyadarshini

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Akanksha started working full time from her 4th year of college. Her first job was at a startup – Innov8 – where she got the early stage startup experience. Later she started up on her own, building a product management Saas platform. She is currently a full stack developer at CasaOne.

This is the story of Akanksha Priyadarshini, a passionate young developer full of energy, curiosity and who dreams of doing big things.

Akanksha Priyadarshini – developer, ex-startup founder, trained Bharatanatyam & hip hop dancer, and Psychology enthusiast

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

I did my B.Tech in Electronics and Instrumentation. In the first year, Computer Programming was a common subject. I realized that it’s quite interesting. So in my second year I decided to dedicate one month each for an electronics project and a computer science project. In electronics I worked on a pest control model using a quadcopter. The project was funded by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). For the CS project I created a simple text editor and video player. I discovered that I enjoyed the software work more than hardware.

Python is one of the main reasons I really enjoy coding. Python was the first language I worked on, which made it easy to accomplish things. It’s like writing code in plain English – you think and you write. There is a strong and vibrant Python community too.

I enjoy writing code and I love the fact that it makes life easy. What’s the point of being a coder if I can’t make my life easy. I’ve made some small tools for everyday use, like a downloader tool to do multiple downloads or scripts to send messages to my family.

When I started reading about the difference between the various protocols like http 1.0 and 2.0, I wanted to test what happens when I switch between protocols, I wrote a piece of code and checked it out myself. I can even test new ideas on the fly; It’s quite empowering.

What do you like and dislike about technology?

We are living in the most amazing era in which so many things are happening in the tech space. Recently something that really fascinated me was this team of developers who built deep learning models in Java. I couldn’t have imagined that with all its restrictions and strict data types it would be possible to do a deep learning project in Java. Amazing how they did that.

Another example is from Confluent, a company I admire. In a recent update of their real-time data streaming engine ksqlDB, they introduced a new Push Query feature that integrates traditional database like lookups on top of live-streaming data. It’s really cool that they’ve unified the push and pull queries on one platform working with one data system.

I don’t dislike anything about technology. People say it has disconnected our lives etc. But before technology also, people used to be disconnected. It’s a matter of choice. As with anything else, the way people use it could be a problem. The solution to that problem won’t come from labeling technology as bad.

The most interesting challenge you have faced?

Building my own product Enigma – a project management tool for developers – was a tough challenge. At my first company, we used to work with a lot of freelancers and remote workers. We faced a lot of problems in managing the team and the work. We used some tools but it was complex to use and UX wasn’t great. I started working on a solution with a friend who was an experienced designer. We felt if we could simplify things and improve the UX, we could simplify life for large teams. Along the journey, I learnt that building a business is not just about the product. There are a lot of other kinds of experiences I need, and need to spend more time in my software career, working with different kinds of people, learning from seniors and from companies. It was both an interesting and a challenging experience.

I’ve had interesting tech challenges too – I migrated a REST based platform to GraphQL a couple of years ago, when there wasn’t much information online on topics like how to do authentication in GraphQL, or a strong community. Today it is easy. At that time I learnt, experimented and solved it with a lot of persistence.

What kind of challenges do you look forward to?

I want to go into System Architecture eventually. I am working on improving myself every day. I like coding but it is only the 3rd step in building a solution. Before development, there are other things to think about – what to build and how the design of the system should be. I look forward to being a System Architect.

I’m also interested in people and psychology. I like talking to people and getting to know their stories. I want to get a degree in psychology too.

Learnings from your career

I’ve been good at academics and extra-curricular activities. I didn’t know how to handle failures. Suddenly from college to the world outside, I realized this attitude can’t take me far. If you can’t risk it you can’t do it. So you have to be ok with making mistakes and taking risks.

Another thing I learnt is, just because someone became successful following x-y-z steps, it doesn’t mean that if I follow the same steps I will also be successful. You can take pointers from successful people. But there is no recipe. Everyone has to figure out their own path to success.

Early on in the career when you are just starting off, it is very easy to give up. The initial days could be tough. You just graduated, it’s a new space and you don’t know exactly how to handle the change. Your work is exposed to customers so you have to be thorough and the pressure builds up. Anyone can succeed, though the only way is to stay updated and be true to your work. You can have brains and learn but if you can’t sweat it out, you won’t get anywhere.

Working at startups

It is tough and I am constantly challenging myself. But if we don’t work hard when we are young, when will we do it? The experiences are hardbound. At my first job it was a very small team. Early stage startup. There are not a lot of perks like what the MNCs offer, but the challenges and the experience of working at a startup are worth it.

Thoughts on Indian tech

We have come very far in our tech standards. Companies like CasaOne where I work now, follow very high tech standards and the focus is on the quality of work. Companies are also starting to do tech events and hackathons. All this contributes to raising the standards in Indian tech.

Experience on Geektrust

A friend asked me to check it out when I was looking for a job. Other platforms like Hackerrank and Hackerearth have problem statements where there are test cases and I just have to pass that. What I liked about Geektrust was the problem statements. It makes us think about the whole system at once. The second thing was the feedback I got on my code. It made me want to rewrite and submit again. The job search was easier because companies have my code. The first screening is not with a resume but with code. Makes things really simple.

About Geektrust Dev Stories

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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