I joined a government engineering of GGSIP University Delhi in 2012, it was GB Pant Govt Engineering College. It barely fit into a definition of college. Unnaturally small campus, no permanent faculty, no ECA and not much alumni base. I got an opportunity to get Power engineering at some slightly better college but then I decided not to dwell into unchartered territory just because of money. First year went by in a blink with all those irrelevant subjects (chemistry, physics and EVS). One thing I regret about my college life is not aiming for better marks when I could easily get them.
During second and third year, I was exploring .NET technologies for career in development and also trying my hand at competitive programming (CPr), which was far more interesting than development but more difficult. The drawback* of CPr was, your market value isn't much if you aren't among the top 400-500 (unlike development). At the start of fourth year, I came back from ACM ICPC regionals Amritapuri after embarassing myself and relied on campus placements. During my internship, I saw* the jugaadu development trend in service-based firms of India so I was adamant for a package based company only. However I attended every company's recruitment drive but didn't got one, not even Infosys.
I decided to list down the possible options I had*, (assuming workload/stress is inevitable in every field)
- MBA: Pros
- Hefty salary (if done from teir-1,2 institute)
- Not much technical skills required
- Had to deal with people from non-technical background.
- Had to study (many) trivial things in curriculum and my previous curriculum will become useless.
- Govt Exams like SSC or Civils: Most of the aspirants are not even aware of the job profile, they go after just because of pay and perks. I looked up their work, found it boring, pass.
- Apply in startups: too much work for too less salary, but still I kept this option open.
- MS outside India: my CGPA and profile was not even close to a good profile, I saw no point in studying in a sub-standard university of some other country on huge expenses and even after that it all depends on my hard work.
My goal of life is to create something new, something useful with the knowledge I posses. I know its quite vague but it is what it is. I never liked the reporting structure and lack of independence in IT jobs. I zeroed down to do MTech then PhD from a reputed college in India and apply for lectureship. I prefer* my own research work + mentoring kids (in long term) over anything. Its not that I come from a filthy rich family and I don't want money, its just... I have seen* (many) people compromising in life to earn some more money and then they end up... not really satisfied with life. Basically if I am* able to educate my 2-3 kids, support my parents and tolerate my wife, then I am earning enough.
In my casual attempt of GATE 2016, I got AIR ~2.9k and GS 544. That year I gave other exams as well but qualified only for the interview at JNU. Their written was relatively easy and mostly (gate level) maths based, I already decided to drop a year and prepare again. So I gave the written with a relax mind. I still remember my center was opp Richie Rich restaurant.
Interview experience: there was this panel of 8-9 teachers, my interview was just before lunch so I knew they'll not give much of a thought if I screw up.
- They asked me to introduce myself (yes in some technical interviews they ask that, prepare a short intro and not just reading out your resume).
- They asked me about the subjects I studied in my last semester (I was totally unprepared for this).
- I told them. One of the teacher heard "Software Testing" and I thought shit! I prepared 10-11 subjects of GATE and they had to ask me about this.
- She started asking questions
- What is COCOMO model used for? (Forgot)
- How will you calculate Du-Dc paths? (No idea) At least tell me their full form (couldn't recall)
- What is the difference between verification and validation? (partially answered)
- Why are you so weak in software engineering? (couldn't tell her that it is full of theory, so kept mum)
- Other faculty intervened and asked my strong subjects. I said DS, Algo, TOC. And the questions followed:
- Do you know traveling salesman problem, what is its time complexity? (Exponential sir, it is in O(n!) I think)
- So how can you say it is exponential when you are saying it is O(n!)? (I was blank)
- Do you know the relation between them? (Blank) Have you ever heard of Stirling function? (No sir)
- Acha tell me TSP problem is what? P, NP, NP complete, NP hard? (I said NP complete, but it is not)
- About TOC... what is the difference between a grammar and an automata? (I said both are used to generate a language, but the right answer is, only grammar generates a language whereas automata accepts or rejects strings)
I got the admission and classes began in August. I was taking coaching from gateforum saket at that time. Want to know the coaching experience? Click here. An year later, in 2017, I gave GATE again but panicked in the last moments. Got AIR 1.2k and GS 644. I received offer letter from ISM for CSE in 2nd round and NIT Silchar in ccmt. Called for the interviews at:
- IIT Pallakkad MS:
- Didn't go. Their CSE dept had only 3 lecturers and that too assistant proffs.
- IIT Ropar MS and MTech:
- Couldn't go because of end sems at JNU.
- IIT Gandhinagar MTech:
- First there was written round (easy) and then a programming round (moderate). 30-35 students went ahead for the interview out of 150 I think.
- I selected the panel for Algorithms (there was System panel and Ai panel).
- What'll be the effect on the shortest route if I add a constant to every edge weight? (Knew it)
- How does BFS work? Where it is more useful than DFS? (knew it)
- How do you find the articulation point in a graph using BFS? (fumbled)
- Not selected.
- IIT Mandi MS:
- Written was easy and then 20-25 students shortlisted from 30 I think.
- They asked me my research preference. (I said currently I am open to all)
- Write pseudo code to multiply two 3x3 matrices and what'll be its complexity? (I gave non-optimal pseudo code and said it'll be of order O(n3) but the correct answer was O(1) )
- What is a bipartite graph? (Knew it) How'll you detect if a given graph is bipartite or not? (After some hints from them, I said using chromatic number 2)
- How can one use DFS to accomplish that? (told them) Do you think 2 disconnected bipartite graph can also be considered as a big partite graph? (I said no, answer was yes)
- There is this stream of 0s followed by 1s, you have to find the transition of 0 to 1 in less than O(n) time. (told them to use a modified binary search, they weren't satisfied)
- Result: waiting list number 6 and seats were 4.
- NIT Trichy MS:
- There was lack of information. Will there be interview or not? Timing on call letter was 10:30 but on the schedule it was 3:30. Out of called 30 students, 6-7 students (including me) reached NITT before time.
- They checked our documents in the morning only and told us there'll be an interview. Thank god I came before time.
- Panel consisted of all their proffs. They asked me introduce myself.
- What was your Btech project? (an encryption algorithm which worked on rubiks cube and steganography)
- What is public key cryptography? (told them)
- How is it different that symmetric key cryptography?
- If symmetric key cryptography is faster then why do we use asymmetric ones? (told them, bcoz then key exchange becomes a problem)
- What are digital signatures? (told them)
- Result: accepted (among 2 other guys)
I could have gotten IIT Patna or IIITD but I was foolish to not apply. Trichy was the last interview I had. After I got acceptance from there and after a lot of brainstorming. I decided to stay in JNU only and complete my 1yr of MTech. Someone asked on facebook "then y did u even give gate and attended interviews", I told him "Gave gate for IISc and old IITs yaar and Gave interviews taaki pehle admission confirm to ho, fir sochta Jana hai ki nahi". I was scoring relatively well in mocks, I could have gotten mid level IITs or RA at old IITs with those mock scores. But I panicked on the judgment day when I saw an entire row of red buttons. I was determined to get into a tier-1 college (and I am) but I am not stubborn. I'll give my 27 % towards my grades and dissertation in JNU in order to see myself pursuing a PhD from a better college, and that is my plan. Want to know how is JNU? Click here
Even though I didn't get what I imagined but in future if I ever end up at the top of my field, a huge contribution in that will be of this GO community. Thank you all the seniors for putting sense into me when I was running haywire.
Suggestion to my juniors:
- * means, those statements are my personal opinion and my personal stand. Do not copy them or be influenced with them.
- Grades also matters! I was told in my sophomore year and junior year that companies don't give a shit about grades/marks. But no-one told me there are options other than job after graduation, like post-graduation. And there, grades matter a lot. Maintain at least 8.0/10
- Software engineering also matters :p
- If you are preparing for GATE and ever feel distracted. Think of your dream college and say its name 4 times. I used to chant "IIT Bombay". It'll help you to concentrate.
- Give every exam! Be it BITS or ISI or JNU or any other. It is the fault of college if they are not preparing a wait list.
- Do not ask questions like "which college should I join","college A vs college B, which is better". Get your priorities straight, do your own research (if u don't know then ask how to do research) and decide for yourself.
100 minds will give you 100 opinions whereas only 1 opinion matters, your own.