Journey into JavaScript — Param Aggarwal

At the conference [JSFoo], we were surrounded by people who genuinely loved JS and doing all sorts of things with it. This made me feel valuable contrary to what I felt in college. It boosted my confidence. Traditionally a JavaScript conference would focus just on its use within a browser, but a very large number of talks spoke about Node.js — this was promising to me.

HasGeek spoke to some of the past speakers and proposers to understand their journey, how they got into the community and what has been their growth since engaging in the tech community. This is a part of a series where we explore the journeys of individulas who have been speaking and reviewing HasGeek conferences over the years.

Here, we chat with Param Aggarwal, a UI Engineer at Flipkart. Param was working at Cisco as a QA Software Engineer, after which he jumped into the world of Javascript, front-end design and engineering. Param was enthusiastic about sharing his story and added a small background about himself.


HG — HasGeek

PA — Param Aggarwal

HG: Let’s start with a little background about yourself and how you got involved in the community.

PA: I experienced first hand how a vibrant JS community can change people’s lives

In 2013, sitting at my desk in Cisco, I was manually testing their virtual switches for use in data centres. It was a calm and slow job and I was convinced this is how I will retire.

I thought back to my time at college. While everyone was learning C and Java, I was very comfortable with JavaScript as I used to play around with these frontend technologies in high school. When I heard about Node.js it was very easy for me to pick it up, but everyone around me was learning and getting hired for their knowledge of Java and related frameworks. I thought the tooling I am learning is not really used in the industry and I was disappointed. This is how I had ended up at this desk.

I used to follow HasGeek’s smaller meet-ups in Bangalore and received an email announcing JSFoo. I decided to attend with my friend Chetan. At the conference, we were surrounded by people who genuinely loved JS and doing all sorts of things with it. This made me feel valuable, contrary to what I felt in college. It boosted my confidence. Traditionally a JavaScript conference would focus just on its use within a browser, but a very large number of talks spoke about Node.js — this was promising to me.

Chetan and me had been working on a side project, a tool that allowed you and your friends to mark where they were heading before hand, so that if two of you were heading to the same place, you could plan and meet up! One small implementation detail while building this page was that when you first made the request, the server would render the page for you and any further interactions with the app were handled in a client-side only manner. I thought this is how it should be done obviously.

Sitting there among the crowd at JSFoo I noticed people on stage speak about the challenges they fought to achieve such an experience. They would use a headless browser or pre-render some parts of the page. Instead of looking it as an experience enhancement, they would pitch it as an SEO enhancement. This tickled me.

I knew we had something that was worth sharing. I wanted to reply back. I told my friend Chetan, do you want to go on stage and talk about HeadTo? He was surprised. But then he said, alright! We listed our name for the flash talks not really expecting to make it.

Fast forward a month and I am now at a desk at Myntra. I am working on their search results page and we are using Node.js exclusively. Sunil Pai had hired me. He had seen my flash talk and was happy to see my interest and motivation towards the same problem that they were solving at Myntra — to rewrite some pages in Node.js to bring isomorphic rendering as well as scale beyond what was possible with existing PHP servers.

HG: What did you anticipate (and what turned out) when you first came to JSFoo?

PA: I had a bad image about conferences as being marketing events and networking events. Neither was my forte. I just wanted to hear people’s stories. JSFoo had the answer. I was happy to see real people from the industry get up on stage and tell stories about their work.

HG: What motivated you to speak thereafter?

PA: I wanted to tell my story. Fortunately, my story has always been short enough to fit into a flash talk. In the first one, I wanted to tell everyone that building webpages that can be rendered by the server or on the client is now easy with Node.js and hence should be something implemented from Day 1, and not an after thought. The second time, I spoke about how emerging technologies are making frontend engineers capable of building entire systems end-to-end. Looking back I was referring to what we today call a “Full Stack Engineer”.

HG: Who were your mentors from the community and your workplace? How did you seek them out? What influence have they had on your practice of tech and in your career + personal life?

PA: Sunil Pai. I saw him speak often and was always impressed by the richness of his ideas and content. It motivated me and inspired me. I went on to join his team and had a fulfilling three years of experience working on various projects with him at Myntra. This, truly was life changing for me.

HG: At this stage, why do you put in your time to review and mentor other speakers?

PA: I want to bring the focus back on telling stories. I think back to myself as an audience member complaining about bad presentation or bad content. I deeply wished they would stick to telling a genuine and authentic story. This is what motivates me.

HG: What is it that you have to say to those who are considering attending ReactFoo? Why attend ReactFoo? How do you make the most of a conference?

PA: Focus on hearing stories. Ignore the rest of the noise. You can learn new tech any day by reading docs and watching videos online. But you can learn about people’s experiences only at an event like this. It can come from either the speakers on stage or your peers attending the conference. Walk up, say hi, and ask them their story!


Submitting a proposal to speak at a conference is one of the best ways you can get feedback on your work. We review all submissions with the help of our community members and mentor speakers who have promising material. If you’re working on something you’d like to share with the community, consider submitting a proposal for any of our upcoming events: https://hasgeek.com/

More about Param:

Param is available to mentor and guide those who are looking to submit talks. If you want to reach Param, you can email him at paramaggarwal@gmail.com