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Sunday, November 27, 2011

A testimonial to one of the best mentors I have had

I have previously written about my internship at IBM in this post and this post. The first post makes it pretty clear that the internship was a very productive (very likely most productive) part of my engineering student life. The second post briefly talks about Gautham Pai as being my guru. Both are very much true and I am thankful to Gautham for having provided me the opportunity to be on the Eclifox team. Although I have expressed my gratitude to Gautham a few times, I never really wrote it down anywhere, neither in my blog nor on any social n/w site. A few months ago Gautham started his own company Jnaapti, which is a technical skill development company. Basically he is doing what he is very good at, i.e. bringing the best out of anyone willing to learn and succeed. As part of the company operations he conducts training sessions for various corporate clients and also mentors engineering students helping them understand their subjects better using some useful project as a means of teaching. He is experimenting with various educational methodologies and different ways to teach/mentor students remotely. I am very confident that his efforts are going to change the landscape of computer science engineering education vastly. Having been mentored and guided by Gautham at various points, I thought now would be a good time to pen down a testimonial and finally put that gratitude in words. So here it goes :

Every software engineer who has been in the industry, even for a small amount of time, surely knows the gap between academic teaching and the industry requirements and the initial uphill task of coping up when a fresh engineering graduate joins any company. It would not have been different for me, if not for Gautham's guidance as my senior at college and my mentor at IBM during my internship. With Gautham's mentoring, the internship was probably one of the most productive spans in my 4 years of engineering studies and also the one packed with maximum learning. Additionally it opened up a number of opportunities for me which I previously did not even know existed - like my participation in Google Summer code and later being with the Mozilla community for quite some time and many others.

Traits like general intelligence, theoretical understanding of the subjects and the ability to solve problems are undoubtedly necessary, but not sufficient. An engineer should be able to think not just about the next line of the code that he is going to write but also think about product that he is building or helping build. He should also know that any technology is just a tool to get the work done and not something that limits you. That way you just pick any new tool that you come across and find useful or necessary for the job. This also means you keep up with the latest happenings in the tech world via blogs, articles, mailing lists etc. Above all the zeal to do more, to come up with new ideas, to start executing those ideas and the persistence to see them through, in the course carefully managing a team as a leader, are what will make an engineer truly successful.

I, of course, did not realize or understand all this during my internship. These were not handed out to me in bulleted list of To-Dos. Rather it was all nicely baked into the project that I (with a few friends) carried out and I was set on the right path without any additional effort. More than that, all of this was demonstrated to us in practice by Gautham himself and some of it just rubbed off on me, making me a much better problem solver, much better product developer, much better ENGINEER, than I would have been otherwise. Now when I look back at my internship days and my days as an engineer after that, I clearly see the impact and how much it has helped. That's Gautham and his way of mentoring. Thank you Gautham for letting me be part of the Eclifox team and for your guidance till date and the future too. :). (For the readers : Eclifox was what we built during our internship - http://buzypi.in/2007/10/11/eclifox-bringing-eclipse-to-the-browser/  and I am very proud of it.)
 In case you are wondering where did all of this finally land me, here is my linkedIn profile. :)
Keep up the great work Gautham. Wish you all the success and happiness.

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