No explanations. No excuses. No regrets.
People who aren’t willing to “break the rules” a little bit usually end up wasting years of time and money trying to achieve a goal they could’ve achieved with a lot less. You just got to find something you love to do and do it for the rest of your life, and that’s what I did.
I suddenly got a call while talking to my girlfriend in the college cafeteria after my fourth semester exams. I didn’t have the number in my contacts and somehow Truecaller wasn’t very supportive. So, maintaining the cool attitude in front of her, I received the call and continued in a careless manner. The person on the other end sounded quite confident and sharp. He was the COO of Mantra Labs Pvt. Ltd., the company which led to this story.
After a brief introduction and apologies for the casual talks, the interview started. I had made three websites in the last two years and a project on Java in class 10th so everything went quite smoothly. I was offered an internship there and also a choice between web or Android development. I chose Android but as I had no prior experience in it and they were going to teach me everything from the basics, the internship was free. Initially it felt like a setback but then Bangalore for two months in an IT company seemed like a dream come true. I got an eight-week schedule with some prerequisites for the internship.
I was fully prepared on the 2nd of June for the internship. I had brushed my Java skills and packed my bags for the Silicon Valley of India. The flight from Delhi to Bangalore was quite boring, probably because there was a certain thrill to the upcoming phase. The internship was from 3rd June to 28th July. Unlike my hometown Mussoorie, Bangalore was entirely different. It had a New York-ish feel to it and I was already beginning to like it. I reached the office on time with some GPS and public assistance, despite all the confusion. In half an hour the office was buzzing with ‘geeks’. Everyone seemed super intelligent and quite robotic, busy running the fingers on their laptops. They were ‘qwerty’ people in an ‘abcd’ world.
My mentor arrived within a few minutes and the internship had started. They had given me a schedule for learning Android development for eight weeks and I had a slight fear of missing the deadlines. The IDE was set up, the internet was quite amazing as compared to my college (the earlier benchmark for internet speeds) and by the end of my first day I had got to know just 3 people — the COO, my mentor and another Android developer. I had no idea how I was going to get through those two months. The geeky environment which had given me an orgasmic feel earlier, now seemed to be sitting on top of me. I was under a lot of pressure created by my mind itself.
Within the next few days, the entire situation had reverted to the initial impression. I used to look forward on reaching the office at 10:00 AM. The geeky environment turned me and my laptop on. I had made a few friends, but everyone was elder to me and with a hell lot of experience. I was loving it. Learning Android had started and it seemed quite interesting and easy as I was quite comfortable with Java. I used to sit right opposite to the COO who was very friendly. The occasional intellectual talks with him helped me learn a lot and show off a bit. In a few more days, I got quite comfortable with the new technology and was doing quite good as per the feedback of my mentor.
Surprisingly by the end of the third week, I had completed the entire work for eight weeks with five weeks remaining. The COO and mentor had a lot more trust in me than myself and asked me to work on an Android project. The company is a service based start up and the application was a client project. It felt like a huge task and the pressure was immense. I could feel the responsibility of the project crushing me. In spite of all this, I couldn’t let it ruin the reputation and impression that I had created till then. I started working on the project immediately. In some time, it felt quite comfortable and the work was smooth but whenever I got stuck in something, I literally got depressed. Stress and anxiety overtook the carefree attitude that I carried with me but all thanks to the awesome mentor I had, he rescued me every single time. I had found the best teacher, mentor, colleague and friend in him.
All this time, I was sitting opposite to the COO and we had talked a lot over various things like college life, professional life, life in general, graduation or no graduation etc. Yeah, as I mentioned we did talk about no graduation, benefits and drawbacks of college and since my college was no IIT or NIT, the tilt was against college education system. I personally didn’t approve of the prevalent theoretical B.Tech. Engineering and somehow we entered a long discussion about dropping college. I took it quite seriously and gave it a lot of thought for a few days before discussing it with him. He might have also realized that the casual discussion had taken a serious turn and helped me get over all my doubts about a future without a degree. I spent the remaining time in Bangalore thinking about dropping college and convinced myself to do so. I was also planning as to how I would convince my parents. I had a plan A, plan B and plan C and I revised them thoroughly for any loopholes. Trust me, your intuition will never betray you.
By the end of my internship, I had completed the project successfully. The client was very happy and quite satisfied with the work. He might have given a really good feedback or maybe it was a general impression that I left in front of the CEO, the COO and the mentor but it led to a really big surprise. The COO of the company was a really strict person, one of the most intelligent ones in the industry and was always to the point. He called me in the conference room around 2 days before end of the internship and asked me to sit down. I had the worst feeling at that moment. I was trying to figure out where I had screwed up because I couldn’t think why he would call an intern in private to talk if it wasn’t something serious. He started speaking and quite opposite to my expectations, he was praising my work and performance. I couldn’t have been higher but it didn’t end there. He awarded me with a stipend of twenty thousand rupees, even when the internship had been free of cost. Again, it still hadn’t ended there and he offered me to join the company immediately after college or even if I plan to drop college anytime. That was more than I could handle but I tried to maintain my composure and while not sounding too ecstatic I chose the second one, the one where I drop college.
The next week passed by quite quickly as the internship ended on the 28th of July, I returned home to Mussoorie but now was the big moment. I sat down with my parents with the plans A, B and C all loaded to convince them. Like the previous months, this also happened quite opposite to my expectations. My parents agreed within 5 minutes even before I could execute either of the plans. I didn’t get a chance to mention earlier that my parents belong to the unbelievably incredible category and as always they didn’t stop me from doing what I wanted to. I withdrew my college registration the next day and got an offer letter the same day.
It’s been over a year now and I’ve worked extensively on a number of projects and technologies and I suppose I have an impression similar to the one a year ago, if not a better one. Before the internship I was a normal computer science engineering student, with a lot of enthusiasm and passion but totally unfocused. Now everything is in place and I have absolutely no regrets in life. People are far more likely to regret things they haven’t done than things they have done. I’ve realized that an instinct is there for a reason. For others, I would like to say, “Let go and let life happen”.