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Saurabh Kumar

I started out at DTU as an electrical engineering student, but I didn’t have my heart in it. Not that DTU is bad, but IIT was the dream. I wasn’t able to clear JEE the first time, so I decided to take it again. It was extremely difficult, attending college and studying side by side for JEE.

Luckily, this time I got into IIT Delhi textile. But all my friends around me flooded me with comments like, “IIT ka textile kya hi hai”, “Kuch nahi hota unka”, etc. However, for me, it was little about textile and more about IIT. IIT mein aana tha, kuch bhi mile. I was hopeful though, I had come to IIT Delhi with the thought of department change planned out.

For one entire year, I was completely focused. I was involved in very very few clubs, only debating society and the music club. Most of the time in my first year I was concentrating on just getting out of my department, anything but textile. It was only acads, acads and acads.

As the first year ended, my CG turned out to be 9.1. I initially thought it was pretty less, but to my -happy- surprise, multiple fuck-ups that year (123 people failing in MTL100, for instance) brought the average CG really, really down. I depc’d into EE1. I was excited about my third sem. Sure, I didn’t get into Computer Science, but it’s okay. I thought to myself, ‘Let’s chill out and explore EE’.

The third sem advances. The assignments started coming. I’d see people around me who would take hours to complete their assignment and there I was, struggling for days. This gave me a lot of anxiety which turned into a big inferiority complex. I started thinking that maybe I am not smart enough for EE, maybe I am just not talented enough to compete with these people. This inferiority complex grew so large that I just gave up. I stopped going to classes and my attendance grew abysmal. My mental well being had started dwindling badly. I tried to attend regular therapy and counselling and even took meds to help myself. I fell from a 9.1 to 7.3 that semester.

I was put on probation. A downfall of 2.0+ in SGPA. Luckily, The therapy helped and I was back on my feet somehow after 3 months into clinical depression. Anyway..

I’d fucked up, big time.

I was fond of microchips, processors, microcontrollers, VLSI design but I found that cool stuff like that isn’t available will the end of your degree and you’ve to do a lot of circuit courses, which I never liked, this made me hate EE dept. The third sem courses like Circuit theory made me question my decision to come to EE dept. Luckily, the fourth semester was much better than the third. I was more focused, not to mention things were also easier. After the fourth semester, I wanted to explore what research was like, so I went for a SURA that summer.

As the fifth semester rolled around, more accurately the intern season, my stress skyrocketed.

The culture of IIT Delhi is pretty toxic regarding interns and placements. When people get interns, they make a huge deal out of it and spread it all around Facebook and Instagram and any social media platforms they can find.

But the semester is very weird and stressful for people who can’t get an intern on day 1 or day 2. I was one of those people. I was beginning to have a genuine interest in coding and was pretty good at it too. I could clear all the coding tests. But I fucked up (wow, are you really surprised at this point?) in later rounds. Forget day 1 or day 2, day 3 and 4 and 5 and what seemed like day infinity, I was still without an intern. By the end of the fifth semester, I had applied to 31 companies. I had finally gotten an interview in only one of those companies and guess what?

Yeah, I didn’t get in.

In a nutshell, I was rejected by 31 companies straight. The feeling of continuously getting rejected can be really overwhelming, so much so that you start thinking you’re worthless. Sometimes it invoked suicidal thoughts in me. I took therapy again for a while. The sixth semester saw companies coming again for interns. Again I applied to various companies. I was still anxious and stressed but it seemed I had gotten used to it. Finally, around march, which is likely one of the last months to get an intern, I got into Yahoo Japan -finally- and my work was in the field of machine learning, which is what I had wanted to do. When I’d started ML in the fifth semester, it was almost a fad, everyone was doing it. But it was difficult to become proficient in it. In three years, I did 8 ML projects in IIT alone. The Yahoo intern was a life-changing experience for me. Not only did I love the environment at Yahoo, but it was also my first experience outside India. Visiting Akihabara market and all those anime scenes in real Tokyo was so amazing. I cried out of happiness when I walked onto the same stairs as Taki and Mitsuha from “Your Name”-

When I came back to India, I got a PPO from Yahoo. I didn’t even realise how the seventh semester flew by (I was so relaxed.) I picked up a couple of research projects, one on artificial intelligence, one in Quantum computing(which ended up being my BTP) and another on psychology. The virus really put a damper on our farewell plans though.

If I could go back in time, I’d thank myself, for not giving up, even in deep shit. I do think I have survived some seriously messed up things. I’m not worthless and it took me a long time to believe that. Long time and many therapy sessions. What I learned and would like to convey to others is that IIT can be a hellish place if things go wrong(which they will) and you aren’t prepared. It has some of the most supportive people too, but still you’ll find yourself strangled alone. So believe in yourself and remember, this too shall pass, like a semester xD

In the end, I would like to say that the value of IIT is not in its degree, but rather in its people. Whenever you go, wherever you go, you’re surrounded by such amazingly talented people who will make you question everything you know. It’s a great place to learn, and an even better place to grow.

Signing off, Saurabh Kumar, Aravali, EE1 '20

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