Posted on 18 Dec, 2018
Crosspost from the SDSLabs blog
Like most of you, I was a beginner when I came here. I had managed to teach myself HTML and CSS, but I had no idea about any other language or how to make software.
I started off with C++ (as it was part of our course). During our practical classes, I used to solve problems on Codechef. Fortunately, the TA did not mind. In my winter vacations, I read up on HTML and CSS. The best thing about the web is that it does not constrict you to a particular flow of knowledge, and while learning about something, you get to learn a lot about other things too. While exploring, I found out about Github and Github Pages. I immediately made an account, followed the steps and put up my webpage. It was still a work in progress when the vacations ended.
My proposal for Winter of Code was not accepted. I gave the recruitment test like everyone else. A couple of days later, I received a call for the interview. The interview was in half an hour when I received the call. I rushed to take a bath, got on my cycle and left from Rajendra Bhawan. I was in such a hurry that I even forgot where the Hobbies Club was. Nonetheless, I made it on time.
The interview took place in two stages. First, a few problems were given to me. They were similar to the ones in the test. The next stage focused on my way of thinking a solution. I was asked to design a system for a Library. I couldn't do it all by myself, but what mattered was the way I tried to solve the problem. Everyone liked the webpage that I had made. It was a huge point in my favour for getting selected.
One day after the interview, I received the news that I had been selected as a member of SDSLabs. The next day, everyone gathered in the Hobbies Club (that's where the old lab was). We were introduced to this whole new world that day. My mailbox was full of invites from Slack, Dropbox and other SDSLabs accounts.
It's a tradition here to order pizza from Dominos and go to Georgia and eat there. The Intro-Chapo took place after a couple of weeks. It was quite an evening. We got to know and interact with everyone. Of course, there were snacks, dinner and a lot of dance.
I don't know about other sections, but here at SDSLabs, we get Chapos almost regularly. Be it someone winning a hackathon or someone getting an internship, you get a Chapo one way or the other. And if significant time had elapsed without one, we usually found some senior ready to give one in Govind canteen.
Be it completing a tutorial or watching a movie, everyone encourages us to come to the lab. It was hard for me to believe how much difference it could make until I experienced it myself. There is someone in the lab almost all the time, someone you could talk to, learn stuff from or discuss any sort of ideas with. The best part is that everyone wants to be challenged, everyone wants to be asked about something they don't know. It simply gives one an opportunity to learn something new.
It is this kind of an environment that motivated me to apply for GSoC in the first year itself. I did not get selected but I had the courage to sit through and select organisations to contribute to. I gained the motivation to learn new technologies and draft a proposal. Not to forget all the help I got from my seniors.
Coming towards the end of the semester, everyone was assigned a project. Mine was to make a python package to aid some functionality of Muzi (our very own music player). After the exams, I chose to continue to work on Muzi during my summer vacations. During that course, I learnt many new technologies like Node, React, Redux and Sass.
Everyone at SDSLabs is open to new ideas, no matter how ambitious or silly they might be. There is a General Body Meeting held every week where we discuss the progress of our projects. If anyone comes up with a new idea, people are eager to work on them. This usually leads to everyone working on multiple projects. I guess the best thing about working in Labs is that the projects are essentially yours, blessed with the inputs of so many diverse minds.
I missed the annual trip. Looking at the pics, I really regret missing it. Ultimately, the best part of being a part of SDSLabs is being with people who are weird like you, people who think differently.
The recruitment test will be held in January. Do give it a try even if you are remotely interested in software development. Believe me, you do not want to miss this chance.