At last, I got the opportunity to wear that weird cap 🎓 and the fancy gown. After all the struggles I went through for the past 3 years, the idea that I am no longer stuck into what seemed like an endless loop of failures still feels very much dreamlike, just like one of those anxiety episodes that some of us are too familiar with.
A bit of a recap...
It's been 4 years since I received veegish.com as my 19th birthday gift from my parents but I have never really blogged about my life as a university student. Back then I had just completed my A-Levels and I knew I wanted to get into software development, but the idea of going to university was never a significant thought since I was really into self-learning and believed that I was going to figure out a way to get into the industry by working small jobs once I left school and work my way into a software development job. Start small and keep grinding, that was the mantra.
Once the A-Levels results were out and I realized I could pursue tertiary education, I was at a crossroads. On one hand my parents wanted me to go to university and on the other I wanted to take a less traditional path but still had the idea of going to university in back of my mind. That's when I did the weirdest thing(or bravest?) an introvert like me would have never thought of doing. I applied for a job. That version of me went into panic mode whenever his phone would start ringing and yet, there I was, getting out of my comfort zone. I applied for a junior web developer position at La Sentinelle Digital, a news publishing company. I remember thinking I had nothing to lose, absolutely no experience other than some pet projects with Wordpress and Laravel, so why not go ahead.
To my surprise I got called in for an interview. It was a technical interview which was mostly about Git commands and PHP. After that one was done I got called in for another interview where I was tasked with implementing a page design using HTML5 and Bootstrap. That's when I had some sound advice from my interviewer encouraging me to take the opportunity and go to uni. He also encouraged me to attend DevCon 2017, which I did, and that changed everything. It was around that time that I had made my first contribution to a public repository(devcon2017) on Github which wasn't just a typo fix. While presenting at DevCon 2017 Logan noticed me taking conference notes, which led him to reach out to me and the rest is history.
Like almost every other student out there, I occasionally had to face some struggles with my studies. One of the core modules I had in my course was Mathematics for Computing, and I sucked at it. Ever since I had joined the University of Mauritius, I kept telling myself that I would study just enough such that I could get an average grade. As a result, that would leave me with adequate time to work on side projects and learn things on my own. That strategy didn't work exactly as I intended, at least not for that module. I failed that class and that took a huge hit on me.
I let that failure undermine me and missed some really unique opportunities. I delayed my applications for a mandatory internship during my second year because I was afraid of being rejected. This made things even worse as my friends were able to secure internships while I wasn't getting any offers, until the very end when a small company managed by two people contacted me. To be honest, It was disappointing at first, but I eventually started appreciating the work I was doing there. The most significant impact however was that I started losing interest in everything I was studying at school and I started doubting myself more than ever. I was suddenly feeling excluded. All that motivation I used to have was gone. I felt constantly tired and lost all passion for self learning. The thought that I might have made a mistake going to university was stuck in my head.
Although this was a seriously depressing period of my life, in the end I managed to make it through and even got an "A" in that module. When I saw the results it felt pretty unreal but still realistic. A small part of that can be attributed to hard work and ambition but a lot of the initial effort and motivation came from watching Youtubers like Matt D'Avella which made me realize that I needed to come up with an efficient routine that works for me instead of trying to fit other peoples' routine into my life. That's when I switched from a goal-oriented mindset to a process-oriented one, from grinding to hustling. I started to identify inefficiencies in my daily life and replaced them with a well-balanced mix of studying, exercising, gaming and side projects. I stopped all social media except reddit and snapchat to keep up with headlines and my close friends. In the end, it was certainly rewarding, albeit tedious.
Light at the end of the tunnel
As my time as a university student was coming to an end, things weren't exactly looking good. Covid-19 had reached Mauritius and there was a total lockdown imposed throughout the island. I was still working on my thesis and the deadline, as well as my final exams were approaching fast. The routine that I had almost perfected was suddenly completely disrupted. On the other hand, with all the uncertainty brought by the lockdown, my hopes of getting a job once I would be done with university were starting to decline. Little did I know that I was again going to have one of those moments where things just change completely.
Just about 1 month before the lockdown, a couple of my close friends encouraged me to drop a CV at a company's booth during the annual campus job fair. This was one of the top three companies where I really wanted to get an internship but due to my late applications I never got a response. Three weeks later, after having a very casual interview and induction with the staff, right in the middle of the lockdown, Proximity BBDO Indian Ocean, which is now known as Hangar Worldwide, offered me a position as a Front End engineer. No need to explain how much of a delight and relief this was for my family and me. I started this new role just two days after finishing my finals. By then I had already submitted my thesis and had no other commitments concerning school.
A lot of things have changed since then. I have graduated university with a sense of satisfaction and no longer have any doubts about my time there. Thanks to the fast-paced environment I currently work in and the talented people that I work with, I have found all the motivation I had once lost. There is so much to learn, but I don't feel overwhelmed or lost anymore. Learning is once again fun. I am now embracing Jamstack and Golang by experimenting with small projects when I get back home from work, because I keep weekends to disconnect from the office.
So far, It may seem that I have faced all my hurdles alone, but the truth is, I was surrounded by amazing friends all this time. Together we took initiatives, like coming up with our own notes and sharing them in an organized manner on OneNote or staying up late at night and revising together via our very own Discord server(even got our own discord bot,*cough* shameless plug *cough*). Those late night calls were the best. The friends that I made along the way are the only reason I need to say that my time at uni was definitely worth it.