From Mechanic to Software Engineer: A Coding Journey | by the TinkerHub Foundation | TinkerHub | February 2022

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Humble beginnings

There’s nothing particularly remarkable about the way I started. I did pretty well in school and got into SHM college in Kollam. But I was not admitted because I wanted to improve my entry ranking.

My efforts combined with the support of the coaching class allowed me to pass the entrance exam and then join SCMS College for my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. I graduated with 69%, but didn’t have a chance to get a job during the on-campus internship. I had no work experience other than two paid internships that I did to meet course requirements that don’t really have any value in the job market. So I decided to take the GATE entrance exam for post-graduation. I worked part-time during my GATE coaching and completed my Masters in Mechanical Engineering (2018). I then held an assistant professor position in the mechanical engineering department of SNM College (February 2019-July 2021).

Financial struggles

While working at SNM, I had a constant desire to learn more and improve myself. I wanted to pursue a PhD. and this time i worked hard and got 3rd rank in NIT making stream for winter 2020 admissions; but unfortunately, Ph.D. vacancies were only available for the first two rank holders this semester.

Since my family was not financially strong, I decided to look into different options, including going abroad for higher paying jobs to support them. All things considered, I decided to pursue my PhD. in Ireland. The first step of this trip was to take the IELTS exams, which would allow me to apply for my study visa. Now all I had to do was give my best in the preparation and the exam. I was supposed to pay my IELTS exam fee within a week, but things were spiraling out of control. The pandemic affected me indirectly. My college salary was cut in half. I had my college loan to pay off and the pay cut made it harder to make ends meet.

A new chapter

In the midst of this crisis, a good friend of mine, Bijoy Sijo, introduced me to machine learning and suggested I join an Instagram Live by TinkerHub by Praveen Sridhar. I was the IEDC nodal officer at my college at the time and attended the live session hoping to get some information to share with them. That’s when TinkerHub hosted a peer learning and community session at our college and introduced students to coding. I was interested in machine learning, so I was debating moving from mechanics to software. I was hesitant and dubious because I had been in the mechanical field for 8 years. So in the last Q&A session I asked about changing fields from Mechanical to Software and was told that skills are all that matters!

I decided to master coding with advice from a book, – “How to learn Python the hard way”, which was recommended by Bijoy; and he kept me in touch with me every few days. It was difficult at first, so I referred to different resources, including online platforms like Coursera and Udemy. I sometimes asked for help from Bijoy, my colleagues Manoj and Aji from IT who were always ready to help me and continued to motivate and support my learning. I worked on a project related to machine learning, exploring flask, django, open CV, etc. I also started working freelance.

with Bijoy and Manoj

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