Some advice I would like to give to CSE students who are going to start their career

Introducing myself, I am Yash Patel and I am student of Computer Science. I am active competitive programmer and have freelanced for some time in past. I have tried my hands on flutter, android, python, ML and now I am trying my hands on web tech. You might think of me as well-sorted person who goes step by step and achieves whatever he wants, right? But real truth is, NO! I AM NOT THAT SORTED. Let me prove this to you with my 4 years of my life in CSE.

My school days and my !(love) for computers
I never imagined myself having my hands on keyboard for more than 10 hours everyday creating something that I never dreamed of. As a child when I was in my 10th I dreamed of me as Astrophysicist. In India after 10th, you have to make decision whether to take science stream, or commerce or arts stream or diploma course on some field. I was sure that I am ready to be student of science and my teachers also encouraged me of pursuing it. But my family asked me to do diploma in CSE and kill that astrophysicist in me. I don’t blame any of my family members for pushing me into this, as I know they thought for my well-being. I fought for it, but all was in vain. So I did what I want had to do. I pursued my diploma in CSE for next three years. I was student in 10th grade who hated computers as much as he hated the education system of grades/theory. Even I passed my practical test of computers in which an easy C language program was asked to me and I cheated. I am ashamed of it till now, but I have to confess the truth, right? Okay I won’t lie to you, I cheated twice in my academics, both in computer tests. I never had gut to bring cheats in tests with keyboard shortcuts written on it, but computers made me do it. For those who are waiting for surprise, there are no surprise, I successfully executed that cheat plan without being caught. So that same kid who cheated was going to pursue that subject as a career. Think of it as like, I am criminal and at the same time I am applying for police job. Funny right?

My !(wonderful) first six months in diploma college (1st semester)
My first 6 months in diploma was total disaster. I wouldn’t even know what going on and I felt of me like a complete failure. I never felt like this before in my whole life. I felt so stupid.

My next six months in diploma college (2nd semester)
But I had to take charge of myself, that is what I did back then. I buckled up and started learning basics of programming in C language. One thing about me was that whenever a task is given to me, I think two phases of it. First phase having solution to the task. Second phase having ideas on improving and adding something new into that task. So when I was learning about C, many programs came along and I thought how can I add something new to this existing programs. I tried to make simple games like tic-tac-toe, snakes and ladders, etc with graphics.h library. Sometime I succeeded sometimes I failed. My mindset gone so into the problem solving that I had dreams of logic during sleep. I am honest, I swear. I was happy! I was bounded into that blue screen of that turbo C++ editor. I knew nothing else except opening that turbo C++ and coding for long hours.

Meeting to one of the most important person in my life, my professor (3rd semester)
I met a professor who also thought like me, about grades. Let call him Mr. Captain. Mr. Captain was one of few teachers that I met in my life who imparted wisdom of being excellent rather than imparting grade theory to be successful. Mr. Captain pushed me to do things more than my capability (which was making game in C, only simple ones). Mr. Captain gave me my first project of making simple text editor as a side work which would not account for any grades. Mr. Captain thought of making this thing regular for all 3 and 4th sem students but students didn’t co-operated that much I think. But I took on challenge and made that thing in python. I learned basic python in just matter of days. I was surprised and stunded. How could I do this in just matter of days. Thanks to the foundation of the C fundamentals. Mr. Captain didn’t even knew what he did. He basically imparted me confidence. That was start point, a small one but tough enough to encourage me.

Pursuing different options in CSE (4th-5th sem)
Since I got confidence, I didn’t stop at text editor, I tried ML, flutter, android, IOT. I hated making websites mainly because of javascript, so I didn’t pursue it. Also I got into competitve coding and I was liking it. This was my one good year.

Downfall (6th sem)
In 6th sem I got worried about me. I was taking more than I could do at a time. I was mentally exhausted. Not gonna lie I had depression. I cutted off myself from outer world. I didn’t liked people, not even single one, including me (not counting family and some important persons in my life). Things got worse when I started to lose self-confidence when I was doing worse in Competitive Programming. I started to hate things easily, even things I was successfully able to do in past. That downfall continued even further after 6th sem. And then lockdown came into the country, that took another toll from my mental health. I never showed this feelings to anyone. I never seeked help.
I tried to use different strategies to tackle all my endeavours. I tried to set yearly goals to montly to daily goals. But nothing helped.
Here are some of them :

I failed all of them, not even a single one passed. There are hundreds of them in logs!

I have documented this for more than 2 years, consisting of 2 diaries. 2 diaries filled with failure.

But one day, I came across this diary. As I said I tried ML in past, I thought why not try to find pattern which is leading me to failure. I studied this whole 2 diary and found out some of these important points :

  • I was changing my tech stack like we change clothes everyday
  • I was setting goals which were not realistic
  • Sad Songs were making situation worse
  • Saying yes to everything, everyone
  • Not focusing on what I love

Advice that I want to give

  1. Mental health matters
  2. Wrestlers do go to gym, training everyday. They eat healthy food. This is important for them as they have to show their physical capability more than mental. It's same for us Developers, but the other way around. We should take care of our mental health. There is no formula that will give you constant mental health. Sometimes we feel sad and sometimes we feel happy. That is normal. But being sad on what is not even into the real world, like imaginary defeat. Do what you love at least for some time every day. Do flex your skills in coding frequently if not everyday.

  3. Don't change stack only because someone prefers one over another
  4. There are overwhelming alternatives for tech stacks. You should really jot down to one of them learn deep on it. If you go deep, then there are chances that you will pick up rest ones easily in no time, in future if needed.

  5. Make what you love
    As a CSE student we at some point have to make some side projects what we say it portfolio. So why not make it on what you love. As for me, I love to make games and automate tasks. There are more chances that you will love your projects if you make them on what you love.

  6. Saying NO is important, very important
  7. Sometimes there will be opportunities where you have chance to work with different tech you don't like. Say NO if it haunts you down.

  8. Set goals in increasing order of difficulty
  9. No one in the world can be great starting from day 1. If you want to code for 10 hours a day then you can't start with day 1 : 10 hours. If you managed to code for 10 hours on day 1, then its good for you. But if you failed, then you will start to feel low about yourself. So try to set goal which are realistic with your current situation. After some days when you feel comfortable, go N + 1, that means push yourself from your comfort zone a little bit. I call it the rule of atom. Go atom by atom and you finally have molecules. Molecules will finally make cells. Cells make up for tissue. Tissues make up for organ. Organ make up for body.

  10. Take daily logs in a diary
  11. I got a lot of understandings where i was going wrong from my diary. Maybe it can help you in your rough patches, as it helped me on mine.

So this is it. Now I am into my 4th sem of degree college and I am feeling some sense of control over my life. I am improving everyday. And by completing this blog I would check of the Do what you love in my todo list.

Things I hate, eventually ends up being what I love. For me true love starts with hate or what??:laughing: I don’t know! Now I love javascript, I misunderstood it for a while.
So this is what I wanted to say. I am learner for life and I am constant student.

Pardon me if I am wrong about any aspects and correct me if possible. Wishing great health and peace to everyone!

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