12 min read
Hello there, everyone👋
It will be my first day as SDE-1 at Groww today, and I thought to share my journey.
Many pieces of the story have been cut on purpose because there are some things which can't be shared in public. So there would be many places where you feel some loss of context and many parts could be misinterpreted but I can't do anything about it.
Note: This whole blog shouldn't be treated as a roadmap or set of things which should be followed to get a good job.
Flashback to 2019
Life had been unjust to me in 2019, and I was a totally different person, full of rage and frustrated with all the problems. Around June, I was waiting for my polytechnic results, and since the beginning of my polytechnic, I had only one dream: to get into XYZ University of Gujarat for my bachelor's degree so that I could have better peers and placements. However, life had other plans for me, and when the results were announced, my last semester went downhill due to my bad handwriting. I cursed my life for killing the ambition I had been following for the past three years of my education. I didn't have any other choice except to accept my fate and look for another college.
Joining a college with a fresh start
I've been interested in development since I was in polytechnic and I planned to explore more in it and create a career out of it.
During the early days of my college. when I interacted with some of my classmates and shared that I was planning to acquire a career in development, they used to say things like "There are no jobs in development, do ML/AI" "You would never earn well with development," and "I am learning cloud, ML/AI and would earn more than you, just see," and so on. I ignored their views and focused on my goal.
But things didn't stop here, with the exception of a handful, many of the JEE folks were toxic. They would make fun of polytechnic students, saying things like, "Would these small-town folk compete with us?" "You won't be able to earn more than us" and "You haven't done JEE, so you're all dumb." They all had this weird superiority complex about being a JEE aspirant. I never understood why they were so competitive because we never stated anything to the effect that we were better than you.
More importantly, the college lacked a coding or hackathon culture, as well as strong peers to learn from. Every fucking day while walking in my college, I used to feel that I deserved much better than this and always wondered why life is so cruel to me.
Time to upskill
In November, I decided to learn react-native and purchased a course from Academind, I bought the course for around Rs 360 and it was by far one of the best investments I ever made.
Though I had purchased the course, it was still hard for me to learn through it. I used to get up around 6-6:30 a.m. for college and return around 6 p.m., and after the commute, I was too exhausted to do anything. On top of that, we had college papers and practicals to deal with. So I used to set aside my weekends to study for the course, and my roommates and I would stay up all night studying.
3 to 4 months into react-native I was able to build basic apps but still, deep down I knew I don't understand the whole system well.
On March 15, 2020, the government announced that all colleges in Gujarat will be closed for 15 days. I was pleased to return home for two weeks as I was already frustrated with my college because of all the toxic folks.
Other incidents occurred around this time that completely messed up my mental life; I was devastated and lost all my hope, all of my rage vanished; I was done with all of my troubles and began cursing my life to the fullest; one day, out of frustration, I looked at my hand and said "Inn haatho ki lakiro ko badal dunga, apni mehnat se" (I will change my fate with my hard work).
आरम्भ है प्रचंड (The beginning is fierce)
Because I was mentally shattered, it became increasingly difficult for me to work. For me, it was a matter of survival, and I used to live with the concept in my head that "Irrespective of what's happening to me right now, after 2 years I would be graduated and I need at least a 6 LPA job so I can support my family too. So the only option I have is to work hard and set things right for me."
Note: I am not promoting prioritizing work over health or working 10 hours, I did what it took to survive.
I began to consume more content around react-native, react, and JS. I really learned a lot from all these tech blogs and tech talks. I loved watching react-native vids by unsure programmer and William Candillon, Wix, Shopify, Coinbase and Airbnb had super-duper quality blogs on React-Native. I used to binge-watch talks from international meetups like RNEU, React Advanced, local meetups like react and react native, reactify and not to forget react-native radio they all had very nice content. Jarvis discord server created by Jason had very cool devs from whom I learned a lot especially Marc who used to shower his knowledge on react-native. I used to note down all the jargon from these things and would research or build some POC around it.
Next, I used to go through the job description of startups like Groww, Razorpay, Swiggy. and would check where my skills are lacking. I know this sounds dumb but it surely helped me to grasp more skills. Fun Fact: The very first JD checklist I managed to pass 100% was of Groww🤣
Though I was working so hard, I still doubted my skills and feared that this is not enough to land a job and there was no one around to validate my efforts or advise me on whether they were in the correct direction.
This is a picture of me around that time, I had lost count of days. Whenever I see this pic, I feel that I have seen the worst and survived it (P.S- Many folks asked me why this was my profile pic on Twitter, this should answer your question)
Good Times Are Coming
I met some amazing peers from Twitter Nishan, Prateek, Shad, Muskein. I used to bug them with my questions and doubts about tech, non-tech, and how to land a job, they used to be very super supportive and also while talking and sharing my work with them I became more confident with my work. It was like finally, I got the peers which I needed.
I used to share my learning and work on LinkedIn and Twitter, slowly I started receiving some interview offers for jobs and I felt relieved that all of my hard work was beginning to pay off. Around March 2021 I received a big interview offer from a startup that was looking for react-native devs and was ready to pay me 15 LPA. I was on cloud nine simply seeing that message because back then the only dream I had was to get a 6 LPA job and now I am seeing an interview offer more than 2X of 6 LPA, but I didn't go through with the interview because the job required relocation and college drop, no matter how useless college degrees sound at the end of the day that's what corporate asks. (P.S While rejecting the offer I really felt privileged because though the time was bad but still it wasn't that bad that I had to leave my college for it)
After some months I was looking for an internship for my 3-year summer internship, and my college asked for a strict 2-month internship only. As the internship period was too short, no company wanted to proceed with my profile. Luckily I had given one talk on React-Native performance and it got noticed by Ashish Gambhir who was EM at Blinkit back then, offered me an interview for react-native intern and I cleared the interview. I was so happy while seeing the offer letter that I can't even express it, but my college rejected NOC for 6 months internship because they felt it would conflict with academics. Really grateful to my manager Ashish who talked with HR to get me an intern for 2 months, otherwise I would have left with such a nice opportunity to work with a big startup. Next, I joined Blinkit as an intern for 2 months and learned a lot from it.
After some time I met some more amazing peers Darpan, Divjot again I used to bug them with a lot of questions and they were super supportive.
College placements are here
As I said previously that back in 2020, I had already made up my mind to skip the college placements so when the college placements came I didn't sit for any interviews. I felt good while sharing this on Twitter but in reality it was shit scary.
But, to be honest, it could be one of the worst mistakes you can ever do. I had already received many interview offers, and the compensation figures made me feel that 6LPA was far too low for me at this time. So I had the impression that finding a high-paying job would be simple.
I have skipped my campus placements, So I am on my own now!!— Aditya Pahilwani (@AdityaPahilwani) July 18, 2021
Whatever happens next, I am ready to face it.
The biggest catch is, very few companies will recruit you as a full-time engineer before you graduate; instead, the best they can do is offer internships. So, while everyone around me was receiving jobs, I didn't have a single offer letter, which meant I was constantly anxious for months to get something in my hands; I had interview offers, not job offers.
The Job Hunt
I was in my seventh semester when I began my job hunt initially, I intended to work for some early-stage startups, and I was particularly fond of Hashnode and Qoohoo and wanted to work for them. I managed to get an interview at Hashnode but got rejected in the last round, There were no openings for react-native roles at Qoohoo so couldn't move forward.
The main problem with interviewing at bigger startups or MNC is that they will have this shit CP round to evaluate your problem-solving abilities, I was pretty good with my platform knowledge and had decent problem-solving skills too but I never did a single Leetcode question because I never liked solving those whiteboard problems. I would have been pretty happy to give all those problem-solving rounds but not those garbage grilling rounds.
I was aiming to apply at Groww, Razorpay, MMT, BigBinary, Smallcase and Cars24 next, as I heard they didn't have these garbage grilling rounds(Razorpay and Cars24 are complete PSDS free for frontend). Luckily one of my friends Rishav works at Groww and pitched me to join them as a react-native intern, and I quickly sent my resume to him. I got an interview call within a single day and cleared all interview rounds with ease. After receiving the internship offer letter, I was overjoyed since I finally had something in my hands. But, because it was still an internship and not a full-time job, I thought to try to get a full-time job instead, so I could be released from all the stress I've been carrying for the past two years.
After talking with my peers, I learned I was trying to over-optimize things. and I should continue with the Groww internship rather than finding a Full-time job because no company would roll an FTE offer 7-8 months early.
Joining Groww As Intern
I joined Groww as an intern on December 13, 2021. 1 week into work I realised that ditching my internship here for a full-time job somewhere else would have been my biggest mistake. From the very first day, I never felt that I am working as an intern here, the kind of ownership I get here at Groww is amazing. My colleagues here are super duper cool I learn something new from them every day. Most importantly the work culture here at Groww is something else, people here have empathy towards each other.
I received my PPO at Groww on January 17, 2022, and when I first saw the offer letter, I felt extremely good as I overgrew all of my dreams with my hard work. all those late nights finally paid off. My family were over the earth when they heard the news and we finally celebrated after a long time.
I am extremely grateful to have a loving family and lifelong friends to support me during my tough times. If it weren't for their love and support, I would have given up long back.
I went through many tough times to reach here which can't be shared here, I lived a long period of my life in frustration and denial of what was happening around me. Some things are beyond our control and unluckily those are the same things which give you immense pain and break you completely. I know I still come from a little privileged background and there are many who are facing worse problems than me and due to fewer privileges their life is more horrible, I hate giving someone a false hope but Please hold on, from whatever you are going through, Make yourself mentally stable and strong and keep working hard, because that's the best we can do for ourselves. if you don't have anyone to speak to, I am just a DM away.
Back in 2020, I looked at my hand and said "Inn haatho ki lakiro ko badal dunga, apni mehnat se". now I can proudly conclude that "Haa badli hai meine apni haath ki lakire, apni mehnat see!"