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How should college students prepare for their first technical job- in conversation with Tanay Pratap

Tanay Pratap, SDE-2 at Microsoft, shares tips for college students


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CoFoundersTown

3 years ago | 8 min read

What are some of the common mistakes students make within the first 12 months of starting coding and how to avoid them?

During the six months just before the on-campus placement season, how should I prepare myself?

Should you focus on doing projects or internships?

Tanay Pratap, an engineer at Microsoft, shares his thoughts about the evolving technology sector in India and talks about how should college students be preparing for the first technical job.

Continue reading to find out more!

Q. Which tech skills have emerged as the most sought after in the last 5 years?

Most sought after skills in terms of the pay scale i.e., paying the most, are Artificial Intelligence and Data Science as today majority of the companies wish to integrate and implement AI (for example Spotify recommendations). AI and data science are the sought-after field, but at the same time has very restricted requirements and requires higher qualifications.

Most sought after field in terms of a greater number of job openings i.e., requires more technical people, is Front End Development where the web technologists’ package whatever is there in the browser and put it on the desktop. There has been a boom in the Web App Developing Sector.

Secondly, there has been a boom in Mobile App Developers.

Q. What are some of the major reasons for this rise in demand for these tech skills?

Whatever happens in the market happens because of multiple dynamics playing. A boom in cheap hardware, free software, the decrease in prices of electronic devices since time immemorial, and the shift from desktop to web led to a rise in demand for these above-mentioned tech skills

For example - Google, Google chrome and Google docs breaking the monopoly of the Microsoft and desktop world.

Business professionals think about strategies and tech augments it!

Q. With the pandemic and the shift in working styles, which skills should an individual work on stay relevant during the present times?

CODING and PROGRAMMING. (In the present scenario even Mandir Darshan has moved online).

As a business professional, understanding how you can move your services online is very important. Since everyone is working remotely these days due to the pandemic, there is no geography or boundary anymore. When trying to move online, don’t restrict to recordings, keep it live!

Q. As a first-year college student planning to get a job in the technology sector, what’s the very first thing anyone should be doing?

The technology sector is ruled by people who are efficient at building things. Therefore, to get into the technology sector, one must learn PROGRAMMING. Even the top 10 people today like Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates etc. were builders first and founders second.

Any person who can CODE irrespective of the field he/she is from, has an immense power to create what they imagine.

First thing you should do is START BUILDING and START SHARING.

Q. In between coding, development, Data Science, DevOps, and various other technology fields, what is the ideal order in which one should explore these fields to find the field of my interest?

The first step is to understand programming. If you are running away from programming and directly moving to DevOps, Data Science etc, then you are setting yourself up for failure. Start with coding and development. Learn basic programming for at least 2 years and then move on to DevOps or Data Science.

Tanay Pratap has taken an initiative called the Rocket Careers wherein if you have created 5 good projects then he himself will help you land up on a job and that too free of cost. During this process he will train the students for the interviews and the college in this initiative does not matter, what matters is how well you can code. Target is to place 100+ students this year and all they have to do is write 3 blogs and create 5 projects.

Here are some of the frequently asked questions (by college students) answered by Tanay Pratap.

Q. The faculties and seniors have always emphasized on the importance of coding. Do I need to code to get a job in the tech sector? How should I start coding?

DEFINITELY. So, to get a job in the tech sector, one should know coding because without that you are setting yourself up for failure. Just like English is our medium of communication, Programming is the language of the computers and the more you run away from talking to the machine (computers) directly, the more you will be in trouble.

There is no one way to start coding. The best way to start coding is to find a language like Java Script and then go to any school like Code Academy, Code.org etc. and sit with your laptop the next 10 hours and enjoy learning.

Q. What are some of the common mistakes students make within the first 12 months of starting coding and how to avoid them?

The first mistake is to think there is some shortcut which is why they keep moving from people to people and watch different videos thinking someone would tell them a secret which will make coding easier for them. THERE IS NO SHORTCUT

The second mistake they make is they try to jump steps (i.e., try to skip the basics and move on to higher level) where they try to directly learn something which has more scope in the future and get done with it.

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO BE AN EXCELLENT PROGRAMMER.

The third mistake is that they try to look for motivation i.e., listen to motivational speakers and decide to code for some time when the only thing that will help them is to sit down and code for minimum 10 hours at a stretch. Do not look for motivation, instead create habits. Create a routine.

The fourth mistake is they get distracted, be it friendships or relationships and hence not focus on their goals. Environment variables are wrong. Instead of wanting to be a programmer, they try to be popular. Hence, choose your tribe well.

Q. As students approach towards the end of the third year, they face a dilemma of doing an internship in the summers or utilise that time to prepare for the upcoming placement season. How to decide what can be the best option?

If one knows it in their heart that they are good in programming, an internship will look good on their resume and the key is to crack the interviews.

Q. When companies/organizations come to college for on-campus placements, what looks better on resume, internships or projects?

As a professional, an internship looks better on a resume, but it completely depends on the project that you have done during your internship tenure. While looking for an internship, be resourceful.

For example; develop an app and publish it on the App store/ Play store and ask 50 people to download it for you.

Q. During the six months just before the on-campus placement season, how should I prepare myself?

In case product companies like Google, Microsoft or even Tier-II companies are coming for placement, you should start preparing for DSA i.e., Data Structures and Algorithm questions to crack the interviews.

Along with that, one should also focus on their personal well-being such as trimming your hair etc. and being more presentable and more pleasant to talk to as people tend to avoid these things.

One should also polish their resume prior to the on-campus placement season but at the end of the day, everything boils down to one’s Coding skills as well as their aptitude.

Do not try to get into service companies like TCS, Infosys and instead get a job from outside the campus.

Q. What are some important core subjects that I should be good at to have a better chance at placements?

DSA (Data Science Algorithm), Networks, OS, Data based concepts, Atomicity and all the basics of what have been taught to you in your classes. The bar for college students to get a job in the tech sector is pretty low, therefore be honest and never lie about anything in your resume.

Also, know the basics of whatever you are claiming on your resume.

Q. How much important is it to maintain a good pointer in college?

In order to do masters from outside India, it is very important to maintain a good pointer in college while, in case you wish to do it in India, a good pointer generally does not matter i.e., anything above 7.

Q. Not many companies come to my college placements, how should I prepare and apply for off-campus college placement?

It clearly depends on the company you wish to apply in off-campus placements. In companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon etc, the game is very uneven i.e., there is a lot of supply and very less demand. They do not hire a lot of freshers and in case they do, they do it from IITs.

Prepare to be disappointed as it is very hard to get in from outside and your college name matters a lot for your first job.

If you have good programming skills and have worked on good projects, then go to a start-up and work there for 2 years and enhance your resume. Working hard even after college is the only way to shine when you are not from a great college.

Tanay Pratap has taken an initiative called the Rocket Careers wherein if you have created 5 good projects then he himself will help you land up on a job and that too free of cost. During this process he will train the students for the interviews and the college in this initiative does not matter, what matters is how well you can code. Target is to place 100+ students this year and all they have to do is write 3 blogs and create 5 projects.

Q. How can I use Linkedin to land my first job?

Simple cold emailing does not work. Create something and take a 30-35 second video of it and then post that video on LinkedIn.

There is no value in creating content as a student; instead create projects and write mini blogs, mini posts, take a GIF of your projects and MAKE IT PUBLIC.

Be a storyteller but put real stories including your struggles, successes and failure.

Q. What are some mistakes I should avoid committing on my resume?

Do not lie and do not use ornamental words on your resume as it wastes the other person’s time.

Never try to impress everyone on your resume and treat yourself as a Prime Property.

Show the impact of your projects i.e., numbers on your resume. If you have nothing to show, then try to work for an NGO. Think backwards and know what to put on your resume.

Q. It is my first interview tomorrow and I am panicking too much. What are some handy tips for tomorrow?

The main idea is to impress the person thus go and do a background search. When you are well prepared and still panicking, you should practice your pitch.

Work on your introduction and keep it crisp and treat interviews like a date and stalk the company, stalk the people from the company.

During interviews, the companies look for some core values, therefore, you should read about their core value beforehand and think about what personal anecdotes you would like to share keeping in mind which would make them hire you. STALK the company as well as the employees, read that company’s blogs.

Q. What are some good resources to prepare myself for a technical interview?

The most common resource is the INTERNET. Researching the company would help here thus use the internet. For example, if you are going for DevOps interview, read about networks. 2-3 days before the interview, brush up the basics.

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO LEARN CODING AND GIVE IT 10-20 HOURS IRRESPECTIVE OF WHAT BACKGROUND YOU BELONG TO.

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