Coder’s Journey featuring Abhishree Shetty (Software Engineer at Microsoft)
Coder’s journey covers the experience of programming experts across the globe. With coder’s journey, GeeksforGeeks aims to deliver practical guidance to all young programmers and assist them in launching their dream careers.
Abhishree is a Computer Science graduate from Manipal Institute of Technology and is currently working as a Software Engineer at Microsoft. She has also worked with Cisco as a Business Analyst Intern. She is a computing enthusiast and has a very keen interest in solving puzzles and cutting-edge problems. Abhishree has also worked with GeeksforGeeks as a Campus Ambassador. Apart from programming, she likes to read, cook, travel, and go for walks to rejuvenate. She believes that “If you don’t sacrifice for what you want, then what you want becomes the sacrifice”.
When and How did “being a programmer” strike you as a perfect career choice?
It was a gradual process for me, I did not have a particular ‘Eureka’ moment per se. Since my childhood, I’ve had a penchant for solving puzzles, math problems, or anything pertaining to logic in general. As a result, I decided to choose my subjects accordingly. I wrote my first working code in the 11th standard and felt ecstatic. I felt the same joy as I did when I cracked a tough puzzle or a hard Sudoku. And then there was no going back. Apart from college lab sessions that needed programming, I also started coding for fun: taking part in hackathons, various competitions & proactively looked for ways to use programming to ease out my own daily life. For instance, during my 3rd year of college, I had written a Linux file organizer script to organize the files in my system as files on my PC were always cluttered. Thus, pursuing a career out of my interest came as a natural choice. Additionally, the realization that a person sitting at his/her desk can write a program & impact the entire world positively, fortified my decision.
You worked as a Campus Ambassador of GeeksforGeeks. How did that experience help you in your journey?
The post of Campus Ambassador of GeeksforGeeks resulted in an inherent drive to be a better programmer on my campus. Apart from conducting coding events in the college to impart programming education & helping budding programmers with the necessary support, I knew I had to work on honing my own coding skills. I started to proactively go through GFG articles and study algorithms to make sure I knew answers to most of the commonly asked questions. I personally felt the need to be able to help when my juniors or peers reached out to me.
What was your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?
I can’t think of one big failure. As there has been a good number of setbacks I’ve had in life. It was my 3rd year of college, the time when companies came to recruit for Summer internships. I felt that I was fairly prepared. After clearing the entrance test for a good number of companies, I would go till 1st or 2nd round only to get rejected. This included companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Goldman Sachs. I was disheartened & felt that my hard work was not paying off. After several rejections, I tried applying off-campus as well. For about 7 months, I had only seen the face of rejection. I had numerous moments where I felt insecure, where I questioned my career choice & asked the most daunting question of all, “Am I not good enough?”. This ended, when I bagged an internship in Cisco & then several others followed.
My key learnings from this experience:
- Acceptance: I learned to accept my setbacks and move on. It’s important to realize that besides internal efforts put in, there are other external factors that affect the outcome. So the end result is not in our hands. “Whatever has to go wrong, will go wrong” – Murphy’s Law
- Persistence: Don’t stop trying or give up after a series of rejections. I believe that there will be light at the end of this tunnel if you keep walking. I learned to take every setback with a pinch of salt & be patient.
How did you bag an offer at Microsoft? Could you share some tips for the same?
Major factors that helped me are:
- Get your basics right: A strong background in Data structure and Algorithms help you navigate better towards the solution even if you have not come across that problem before.
- Know your algorithms & FAQs: Having gone through GFG religiously as a part of my interview prep, I had covered most of the algorithms & questions asked in my interviews.
- Keep Coding: I realized quite late during college that knowing how to solve and actually solving is not the same. Implementing as and when I studied an algorithm helped me gain confidence & improve my speed.
- Learn from others’ experience: Talking to seniors who have previously cracked this process & learning from their experience gave some confidence and clarity on what to expect during the interview process.
Apart from these, things to note during the interview:
- Think aloud while answering: Often, interviewers are not just focused on the solution but how you arrive at it. Do not give up if you think you don’t know the answer. Keep trying, start with a basic approach, ask for hints, and show that you’re willing to arrive at the solution.
- Be your own critic: For coding or algorithmic solution, speak about the corner-cases and shortcomings, if any. Like, an unhandled edge case, scalability issue, space, or time constraint that needs to be worked upon. Demonstrate critical thinking for your own solution.
- Be confident
What are some of your greatest achievements and what are your future goals?
I am constantly on the lookout for working on something that I can call my greatest achievement. However, there are few accomplishments that I am truly happy about and have contributed to the person I am today. In my 3rd year of college, I got to serve as the technical head of my college’s official computer science club (IECSE). Besides working towards uplifting the coding culture, I lead a student community of over 140 active members during my tenure. My Compiler Design Lab enhancement and research work got incorporated as a part of the official laboratory curriculum from the subsequent years. I worked as a volunteer for a Community Teaching Program called Teach Code for Good. I love teaching & to have gotten an opportunity to teach, to make a difference has been very fulfilling. Recently, my team won 2nd place in Microsoft’s Global Annual Hackathon where we built an AI solution to detect & mask sensitive content from a video during a screen share.
I aspire to direct my passion for problem-solving and programming to the realm of intelligent technology solutions. I have come to realize the importance of social and ethical responsibilities in ideas, prototypes, and tools one develops. I aim to build novel technology solutions with high social impact. Delivering a truly responsible solution while meeting market needs gives me a sense of accomplishment as well as pride. Towards the final years, I look towards pursuing teaching to share my learning and experience with others, for I find the act of teaching very gratifying.