A thousand miles and a single step: It all began here.

The day was the first of August, 2018. I vividly remember sitting in an auto-rickshaw en route to the Udgama office with my brother. I had an interview scheduled there, the first one I got on my college professor’s recommendation and I wanted to put my best foot forward there. Just like most things in life, this too wasn’t going as planned. I had not even managed to get to the location and had already called up my to-be boss, Devendra, twice just for directions. And yet I was almost clueless about where I had to reach. Thankfully, he patiently helped us out and we finally reached my interview’s venue, slightly late of course.

The not-so-smooth start had already brought down half my hopes from this interview–I definitely had not made the best first impression, I was sure. Hesitant, I went for my interview. Much to my surprise, as a BSc graduate applying for a technical position, I was not asked any technical questions in the interview. Rather, the interview was focused on my professional goals, my expectations from the internship, and my learning style. Even so, I was not able to answer very confidently. I had never faced a similar situation earlier, and it was my first interview ever. Nervous as I was, I managed to mumble a few words out.

As I left the interview room, I wasn't very sure that I had even made a significant impression, let alone be selected. However, soon enough, I got a confirmation call. Devendra told us later that the only selection criteria were how well we aligned to the company's values and how eager were we to learn.

Thus, my journey as the first member of the Udgama team began. I had two more teammates, Snehal and Mandar. Together, we were handed over our first task: Complete a Udacity certification.

The first milestone: Learning

Our first assignment at Udgama was to get a certification, each. While I was going for the React Developer certificate, others had their own course assigned. Each day we were learning bit by bit, completing assignments, and finishing up learning modules. We were also taking sessions to share our knowledge.  

However, the learning was completely new to me, and it took me a while to grab the concepts shared. While the others were able to complete their courses in the stipulated time, I couldn’t. I was losing confidence in myself – but I carried on, got an extension, and completed the course.

Soon enough, we had a project. We had to develop the front end of a website using React. Since I had done the course on React, I was assigned the project. Hesitant at first, Devendra’s words encouraged me. He said, “If you think you won’t be able to do something, then you should definitely do it. It’s all about trying.” So, I gave it a try.

I worked on it, and later even on updating the website with Snehal, and the clients were happy with what we delivered. Now, I got confidence in the power of learning.

BB king quote the beautiful thing about learning

The second milestone: Sharing and Receiving

Over time, as the Udgama team grew, we were also shouldered with the responsibility of finding the right team members. I remember the day we were busy interviewing candidates and had shortlisted down to two people– both with sound technical knowledge. However, we had one more interview left. Pradnya had clarity of thought, sounded diligent but was a novice on the technical front.

We initially thought of going with the former two, but Devendra suggested giving Pradnya a chance. Snehal and I too had grown into the role, so why can’t Pradnya. Pradnya was onboarded and I was assigned as her mentor. As someone who was still learning the ropes, I wasn’t sure I’d do this. However, I realized I could share whatever I knew, right? After all, I’d always be learning. So, I learned to share, share the knowledge I had.

Having said that, new members of the team weren’t always to be mentored, they were also a great source of learning. For instance, when Shreya was onboarded. I couldn’t help but be in awe of how well she communicated and how articulate her thoughts were. She helped me a lot in building up confidence, sharing my opinions, and communicating effectively.

Monique Lietz quote you don't have to be extreme

The third milestone: Confidence

Talking about confidence, I’ve definitely come a long way. I had always been the shy person in the room who’d never speak up until spoken to. So much so that at the first learning session that I had to take with Snehal and Mandar when I started out, I blanked out. I had to talk about HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and I couldn’t. That changed when Snehal and the rest of the team encouraged me to speak at Kelkar College a year later and sharing my experience so far at Udgama.

I vividly remember being praised and congratulated by all my team on how confidently I spoke. Today, you’d often find me conducting learning sessions at the office, approaching new people, talking to clients, and even delivering talks at Meetups.

Tyrese Gibson quote you grow through what you go through

The journey continues

There’s no denying that in the past three years, I’ve gained a lot, and learned a lot; some of it was through my own perseverance while the others were through the support I got here. All said and done, there’s a lot more to do–I know I’ve just scraped the surface of what technology today has in store for us, and there are thousands of miles yet to go!

Akshata Waghe

Akshata Waghe