As IIT students, we have a picture in our heads, of the type of people who we expect to get day one, slot one jobs. The ones who are amongst the top DRs in the so-called top departments. The ones with tens of projects on their CVs and internships at good universities and companies. The ones with excellent PoRs and ECAs.
Now think of a student majoring in Textile Engineering, who did not have a very good third year internship or a fodu PoR. On which day do you expect him to get placed?
You will be surprised to know, that that guy got placed on the first day, in the first slot at Sprinklr, a New York City based software firm. No one expected him to be able to do this, myself included.
That guy was me. And I wanted a decent job. Desperately. And as they say, when you really want something, all of the universe conspires to help you get that.
One thing that was clear to me from my first year at IIT was that I had a knack for coding. I generally used to be the first one to complete the assignments that we used to get in our COL100 course. Considering the fact that I did not have prior programming experience, this always used to be a big confidence booster. But from the second year onwards, my core subjects started taking up a lot of time, and I could not code as much as I would have liked. This was the primary reason I could not crack any reputable firms in my third year internship season. In retrospect, this was the turning point of my IIT journey.
Fast forward to March 2020, when everything closed down due to the pandemic. For me, a break from the strenuous academic load was what was in order. I realised that this was a golden time; I was determined to make it count. And I started consuming coding problems on LeetCode the way a panda gorges on bamboo. The way a starved beggar eats when he somehow manages to get a meal in a langar. The way Sharma ji, whose ‘extraordinary’ son studies in some random private college, feeds on jokes about IITians who do not get 20+ lakh per annum jobs.
With each question that I did, I learnt something new. And I also got closer to breaking the branch barrier, something that had handicapped me ever since I joined this beautiful, but in many ways, ruthless place.
When December rolled around, it brought with it the placement season. And the talks among my classmates always revolved around how Textile folks will start getting placed only from day three because day one and day two jobs had to be reserved for CS and EE students. Did I fall for this pessimism? Honestly, this was what I felt like doing. Using the phrase “I am from Textile” as a shield after settling for what I considered as an average job. After all, there must be some reason why we are called “tattas” right?
But I did not want to cheat myself. And I did not want to cheat the people who believed in me. And there was no way I was going to let this stupid made-up branch barrier stop me from achieving something that was well inside my capabilities.
Sprinklr was the only firm that had offered me a day one interview. Not that this shortlist itself did not come off as a surprise, since all the institute’s best coders had applied, and only 50 got through. Some people who I thought would be ‘sure-shots’ did not get selected. While this may sound smug, but it was an undeniable morale lifter for me.
The interviews went well. Really well. My months of practice had indeed paid off. I was confident on the D day and did not screw up. Not that screwing up was something I could have afforded. Sprinklr was the only shot at day one glory that I had, and I had to fire it well.
In the end, all my efforts bore fruit; I got the job. And I am probably the only one from IIT Delhi who is joining Sprinklr this year. And I will make sure that I give my best in the company so that it keeps on visiting the campus and keeps on providing all deserving candidates with a chance to achieve what they are capable of. My message to every student is that all the barriers and ‘closed-gates’ that you hear about are all imaginary. By working hard, you can do whatever you want to, whenever you want to, however you want to.
Written by Naman