I am a GDE

GDE Journey — Sayak Paul

Highlights about the experiences I gathered throughout the GDE program in one year.

Sayak Paul
May 24, 2020 · 6 min read
TensorFlow Roadshow Bengaluru 2019 (Source: Unknown)

I first came across the term “Google Developers Expert” (GDE) back in 2018 during DevFest Kolkata where a GDE in Flutter Pawan Kumar gave a talk. After going through the details of the program I got immensely interested to join it. Folks have different reasons to join the program and here are the ones that genuinely inspired me —

  • Learning and sharing is definitely one of the defining characteristics of my life. It’s a value that got instilled in me during my stint at TCS. The GDE program promotes and encourages this culture to a great extent and even rewards for it.
  • My feedback to the respective Google product areas (for an ML-GDE this is primarily TensorFlow but it’s also opened to a number of different GCP’s AI-related offerings) could have a real impact on the future development of the products. [ML — Machine Learning]
  • Mentoring different technology startups to help them bring the most out of technology to solve real-world challenging problems.

Back in 2018 around December, I first applied for the program without knowing that I was not yet at par with the requirements of being a GDE (in Machine Learning). You might be technically very sound in your domain but the most important thing that sets a GDE apart is their community contributions in terms of content, open-source projects, speaking endeavors, etc. A GDE should demonstrate and exercise this part genuinely.

Without depression getting around my way (I am stronger than a mere state of mind) I began working on myself, building my chops, honing in my technical skills, giving back to the communities in different ways. With a lot of courage, I applied again but this time as well, I was not meeting the requirements.

It was only a signal telling me I needed more improvement, more self-retrospection. I tried my best and I am continuing to make myself better and I always will. Remember, I am stronger than any negative state of mind, I needed to work harder not just to crack the program but also to improve myself as a professional and most importantly as a human being.

We are still somewhere around March 2019 and let me fast-forward a bit to May 21, 2019.

May 21, 2019 — I got accepted as an ML-GDE

Finally, I was ready to congratulate myself, thank my parents, and the community members whom I attribute this acceptance to. I am pleased to complete one year in the program today. Saying this journey was a roller-coaster would be an understatement. To this day, I would state the following loud and clear once and for all —

I am thankful and humbled each day to be able to live my passion.

Getting accepted to the program was just a small tip of an iceberg I would say. It’s your actions that define you as a GDE and also separate you clearly. One of my personal goals after being in the program was to grow both technically and socially. Here are a couple of things that I am humbled to enlist to that end —

  • I am a firm believer in the thought — “Action speaks louder than words!” So, I would just leave a link to my personal website below (it contains the interview series I run, the blog posts I write, the sessions I take and other things) —
  • Google for Startups is an equity-free program that supports technology-focused startups that are working on solving real-world problems. It provides support by offering GCP credits, providing mentorship across both technical and non-technical domains, and so on. I am quite excited to have engaged myself as a Google for Startups mentor; I got to interact with a number of very intelligent Machine Learning Practitioners and their ways of solving challenging problems made me learn a lot of things in the process. It was also extremely endearing to know a startup enrolled in the program was able to utilize the suggestions I had shared and improve the performance of their Machine Learning models.
Google for Startups was previously known as Launchpad. Spot me if you can in the picture (it’s from Launchpad Accelerator 2019 Batch III).
  • Explore ML and Build for Digital India Academies and Bootcamps are a very significant highlight from 2019 and 2020 as well. I go to act as a speaker and a mentor for both the programs and most importantly, I got to learn a hell lot of things from amazing students. Be it a cool new model architecture, be it an interesting augmentation technique, be it just about the problem itself, there was so much productivity on the table. It was a glorious learning experience for me to say the least.
Two of the most important highlights for me between 2019 and 2020: Explore ML and Build for Digital India
  • I have always loved to interact with students, learn from them, and provide my guidance whenever necessary. Google Code-in (GCI) is a program that encourages school students to kickstart their journeys in the beautiful world of open-source technology. I got to participate in the program as a mentor for TensorFlow and provide my guidance to the wonderful school students. It’s safe enough to say that their coding skills and thought process gave me a solid validation check. Please take a look at the following blog post by Rick (a GCI winner for TensorFlow) to know more about the overall GCI experience:

I am excited to mentor GSoC 2020 students for TensorFlow. Apart from all the above-mentioned stuff, my life after May 2019 has been stuffed with code, code-reviews, technical articles, collaborative projects, mentorship, product reviews, sessions, etc. I couldn’t have been happier with all these engagements. Here are some collaborative projects I am absolutely proud to be a part of (in no particular order) —

Throughout the past year, I have been fortunate enough to work with some amazing like-minded people — Alessio from FloydHub, Lavanya from Weights and Biases. One of the most beautiful things that happened to me is definitely PyImageSearch. I am thankful to the team (Adrian, Hoffman, Abhishek, McDuffee, and Zubair) which I get to work with every day.

Taken from here

Sharing my position with the other amazing ML-GDEs like Dipanjan Sarkar, Souradip Chakraborty, Aakash Nain, Akshay Bahadur, Margaret, Aurelien always keeps me inspire and to go beyond my comfort zone. I genuinely thank all of you. Also, these are the people I have always admired even before becoming a GDE.

I have always got benefited from the community and I consider myself to be a byproduct of meaningful community engagement. One very important thing I have learned to respect and adapt while being in the GDE program is empathy towards fellow developers. It got even more significant when I began working at PyImageSearch. To the ones, seeking discussions around the areas of my interest, here’s my pinned Tweet —

Lastly but most importantly, I thank the GDE program itself for providing resources for technical developments (be it in form of GCP Credits, be it in form of opportunities to take part in product reviews, be it in form of exclusive content, and so on), for allowing myself to engage more in meaningful ways. I am going to conclude in the words of Leonardo DiCaprio —

Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted.

Thanks for your time, thanks for reading :)

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