Alumni Interview with Taneea Agrawaal
We are proud to share our interview with RGSoC 2016 alumni Taneea, an Electronics and Communication graduate from IIIT-Delhi who now works as a Technical Analyst at Goldman Sachs in Bengaluru, India.
As a self-confessed geek, hacker, coder, and hardcore Artidote fan, Taneea likes nothing more than whiling away the day solving interesting problems, equipped with just a laptop, snacks and a cup of coffee. Leading local meetups for women in tech, and as a valued member of the 2020 Orga team, Taneea hopes to touch lives and make a difference to the world through her work and expression.
What first inspired you to get involved with programming?
A lot of my college curriculum was programming-heavy, so I had to write code for class assignments. However, I really started to love programming as a freshman; as the coordinator of LitSoc, the literary society at IIIT-Delhi, I wrote a python Facebook post scraper to declare the winners of an online competition. I had lots of fun writing the program and this script was the first one on my GitHub account. Soon, people were forking my script and we were using it for every online competition organized by LitSoc. After that, I started actively taking part in other developer communities and competitions to be a better programmer.
Did you always plan a career in tech?
I'm an electronics and communication engineer, so I always planned to have a career as a hardware engineer. However, during my time at IIIT Delhi, I realized I had a penchant for software programming and I was good at it. Throughout my undergrad, I took part in summer internships (RGSoC being the first) and took courses which helped me hone those skills and eventually land a technical role at a global firm.
What was your RGSoC project all about?
OpenFarm is a free and open database for farming and gardening knowledge. They provide a platform for expert and beginner farmers and gardeners to share their knowledge in the form of growing guides - structured, community-generated, single-author documents that describe how to grow a crop based on specific environmental conditions and growing practices.
Which skills did you find most useful during RGSoC?
The most important thing that RGSoC teaches you is the sense of community.
It is wonderful to be a part of something bigger than yourself and to interact with people with backgrounds different than your own. I had the opportunity to meet and work with mentors, coaches, supervisors, fellow scholars from across the globe; an experience that is unparalleled.
Because it is common to work with people in different timezones, you also learn the importance of teamwork, which is an extremely useful skill when working in an organization. Taking part in RGSoC, you grow not only as a programmer but as a person.
What challenges did you encounter during the program?
During our summer of code, one of our coaches told us that he couldn't coach us anymore because of his job. Since he was one of the two of our local coaches, we had to find a replacement for him to keep our place in the program. We immediately told our supervisor, Ramon, about the problem; he was very supportive, and even offered to help in finding a new coach for us. We reached out to our local network at the same time and found two new coaches, so all was hunky-dory!
What do you do in your current job role?
I am an analyst in the engineering division at Goldman Sachs in Bengaluru. Our team is responsible for maintaining, supporting and uplifting the firm's proprietary global Securities Database (SecDb).
My typical day involves designing and implementing features that are required to enhance the database, in addition to helping in the day-to-day operations. I am also involved with the firm's affinity networks - India Women in Engineering and Women's India Network - to drive further awareness through engagement and events.
How did your participation in RGSoC help you get to where you are today?
I knew I wanted to be a programmer before I took part in RGSoC but I wasn't confident about my programming skills. RGSoC helped transform me into the programmer I am today because of the different opportunities that were offered to me during and after the program - interaction with a global tech community, open source contribution, doing my bit to help improve diversity in tech. I not only became a better programmer but also gained a plethora of interpersonal skills that even benefit me in my current role at GS.
Do you still do any programming?
My current role is programming-heavy so I code in C++/Java almost every day.
Do you have any advice for new RGSoC students and for women and non-binary people who wish to work in tech?
A quote I've always lived by:
“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” - Max DePree
I would want to tell anyone wanting to work in tech to believe in themselves and to just do it. Tech is a mixed bag with a lot of niche fields, which has something for everyone, so it's really not hard to get in at all. Be confident, and take the leap!
Supporting RGSoC students
More than 200 students have participated in Rails Girls Summer of Code so far. Please donate to the crowdfunding campaign and create more chances for coders like Taneea to get started in tech.