Into the unknown: The journey of trying new things

I vividly remember my first day at Udgama. Right in the morning, Mandar, Akshata, and I (the first three joinees) were handed over our laptops. And that’s where my journey into the unknown began. We were given Linux-based laptops with the Ubuntu operating system–much to our surprise and a little bit of worry. It meant to perform the simplest of functions we had to run commands and navigate our way through the system.

The beginning, indeed, was extremely confusing. However, by the end, I started getting a hang of it. On the first day itself, I had learned one of my biggest lessons at Udgama–never hesitate to try out something you don’t know. Start with it, and eventually, you would figure it out.

This lesson was key in defining the three most impactful moments of my journey so far at Udgama, which am going to talk about in this piece.

My First Project

At Udgama, our journey has always been centered around learning. So, when we started, we were allotted software development courses to complete and upskill ourselves. Our initial days were spent on the courses. I did the Full-Stack Developer course.

Then came our first project – a Frontend Development project. Since Akshata had done the course on React Front End Development, she got the project. She built it to completion and we helped out wherever we could.

Later on, the client needed some modifications to the design and that’s where I was allotted the task to complete the rest of the project. Frankly, when I heard that, I shuddered a little. I didn’t just have to meet the client’s requirements but also had to ensure that it does justice to Akshata’s work.

After the initial nervousness, I recalled my first lesson and gave the task a try. Slowly and steadily, with research, finding reliable sources to understand how to proceed with the project, I started building the frontend application.

A few long days and longer nights later, I finally was able to complete the project and deliver it on time.

My Meetup Journey

Another common practice at Udgama has been participating and hosting Meetups. When we started out, we were just the audience. If you ask me, I was the backbencher hidden in the corner trying to avoid conversation or meet the speaker’s eyes; afraid that they’d ask me a question and put me in a spot.

That was me for the first few meetups that I was a part of. However, over time the narrative changed, especially when we started organizing meetups. Hesitant as I was, I would take charge but I couldn’t resist helping out my friends in all ways possible. Once I was a more intrinsic part of hosting the meetup, I started getting more acquainted with the setup.

It took time, obviously. Thankfully, it brought me to the present, where I’ve been one of the speakers at a meetup where I talked about Loopback. The journey made me more expressive and confident to share my thoughts and opinions as well as my learnings.

Online Meetup where I was the speaker talking about deploying React application using Firebase.

Before I knew it, I was writing blog posts and articles on different platforms including Hackernoon and Medium, and of course, the Udgama blog.

My First Leadership Role

Another defining moment in my journey was when I was assigned the role of the Project Owner for one of our in-house products. As someone who’s always been mentored and prefers to learn from people, I had little or no idea how to handle the responsibility shouldered upon me.

As the PO or Product Owner, I had ownership of the product development. That meant I had to ensure that everything was done right and was done on time. While we had divided the work among ourselves, I was overseeing all the work as a whole.

In the beginning, whenever I would find something not done right or that one of my team members was unable to wrap up their tasks in time,  I would decide the priority and push people to complete tasks on time but if they’re not able to do it I would allocate the work to someone else or myself to help them out.

Over time, I realized what owning a project meant and what being a leader meant. I had to be the enabler– I didn’t have to sort their issues for them, rather I had to help them out and enable and encourage them to overcome their challenges and deliver the best outcome. My job was to help them learn, grow and make their own mistakes.

That’s where things changed. I would often encourage my team to push their limits, research to figure out problems and would only get involved when all their other options are exhausted.

In the end: We all need to fight our own battles

Every day at Udgama, I learn something new. Over time, what I have realized is that we’re all on our own learning journey: each following a separate path, yet working together. While I cannot be part of someone else journey, I can always be around to help out.

Overall, my learning goes on. To date, wherever I get stuck, Akshata is right by my side, helping me figure it out; without letting my learning get hampered. I tried to do the same for everyone else on my team.

Here’s to continuous learning and continuous growth.

Snehal Narkar

Snehal Narkar

India