FreshGrads Info

Stories from the experienced about How to get First Internship, First job, First GSOC, Win Hackathons

Akshaya Natarajan

4 minute read

A big HI to all the FreshGrads out there. While most of the other blog posts here give you a really good idea on how to apply for internships, competitions, scholarships, I decided to go a little offbeat and share my journey from being a “non-engineer” to becoming an “engineer”. It’s more of an introspection into my own transition hoping that it’ll make a difference in someone’s life. I want to direct this blog post to all the college students, who are feeling quite intimidated and pressurized in finding “THE BEST” internships, landing the highest paid job and other demanding goals (I was in your shoes not so long ago).

Disclaimer: If you are someone who has a solid 5-year plan down the lane, you don’t need this blog post. You are completely good to go!

Starting with a quote I came across very recently,

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, >I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and >over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

Before sharing my experience, I’d like to give a brief intro about myself. I passed out from Anna University, Chennai in 2018 and am currently working as a Researcher @TCS Innovation Labs.

During my undergraduate, I was not the regular CS geek who participated in competitive programming, Kaggle competitions or even went out of my way to do external projects. (I belonged to the major crowd of my class where we learnt just what was taught in that class). I applied for internships mainly for the sake of work experience, not specifically to feed my academic passion. (Though I learned a few things, I highly advise you not to do this). I never realized the importance of networking and gaining experience during that time. And slowly, I started believing that I wasn’t captivated by the idea of pursuing Computer Science anymore. At this point, I did what every engineer who doesn’t like engineering would do :D I DECIDED TO DO AN MBA . When I researched the requirements to study an MBA degree abroad, a lot of the colleges mentioned that they preferred students with Work Experience. Convincing myself that I can work for 2 years, gain the experience I needed and then apply to colleges, I started preparing for my college interviews - thanks to GFG, HackerRank for it’s amazing material_/_ Little did I know that, with consistent effort on my part, I’d actually start liking the problem and find ways to solve them.

Fast forward a little, I secured a job at TCS Research lab after a few rigorous interviews and was assigned to a Machine Learning research team. When I started I didn’t know much about ML and it was quite frightening to be in that position. But this exact feeling transformed my life. I started from the ML 101 course - Stanford Machine Learning and haven’t stopped since then. Life became a lot more interesting and challenging. Machine Learning was always more concept heavy and code light, something that was out of my comfort zone.

Two years later, today, I am planning my MSc in Data Science.

The thing I’ve learnt so far in my life and I can’t stress this enough, is to take opportunities as they come and take it one step at a time. We get what we want only by working towards it, so it’s never too late to take your first step. If you don’t know what it is yet, take the chance to explore everything that is out there. Begin to enjoy your failures until you find the right thing you want. You only get closer and closer to your goal. And remember it may not go exactly the way you want and as you plan but you never know, it may be for the better ;)

P.S I might still do an MBA later in my life, but this time it’ll be because I am passionate about it and not as a way out. If you want to know more about the technical aspects and learnings involved with data science, please feel free to ping me.


  • Written by Akshaya Natarajan - Machine Learning Researcher at TCS Innovation Labs



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