Sameer Kumar

@sameer_kumar

My Journey: The Sqrrl Way

Note: This is completely voluntary and honest writing of my experience and learning as an Intern at Sqrrl.
This is the longest I’ve ever written that makes sense to me.

Zero to One

Four semesters ago, I started college with absolutely no programming background(except CMD+C / CMD+V) having an approximate idea that college will do no good since the beginning. The only thoughts I had were of eminent aspirations of understanding and building the internal implementations of web/mobile applications or more precisely, how did people make millions of dollars primarily with tech? All this with curiosity and a nothing-to-lose mindset.

I never took any particular programming course, or ever blindly-followed particularly any-one trainer while learning to code. Although, I am a great admirer of Kenneth Reitz, Armin Ronacher, and many more Python board members and core developers.

While trying out new stuff, I always have an existing project or a new project idea- first to implement it and having no sample project to follow its application. People call it “Learning the hard way!” too. I’ve failed way more than I succeeded. But that’s all right. Because those failures made my moments of triumph more memorable.

The Sqrrl Way

As a mandatory summer training/internship that students in my university need to take up in the two months of Summer Vacations, I was placed as Python Intern at Sqrrl Fintech in April 2018. Sqrrl is India’s first personal finance platform aiming at millennials. In the eight weeks, I spent here, I’ve made more intellectual discoveries than I can count: All thanks to the incredible mentorship and patience of the team I have been working with. In these two months, my learning was not only in the terms of tech but also in finance and marketing. 
- Compound interest is the eighth wonder — I understood that on real data!
- Several marketing tactics like Budget Distribution etc
- How the AMCs operate, Mutual Funds and SIPs work and moreover understanding how our national stock exchanges work. 
- Understanding Annualized Return: CAGR and XIRR

Whereas on the technical side, from day one I tried following the best patterns. I worked on Serverless Lambda, DynamoDB, RDS. Here at Sqrrl, on the server side, we use a very lightweight, bare-metal python framework for building speedy web APIs and app backend called Falcon. Having some experience with fully featured “batteries included” server-side web framework like Django, it took me some time for me to overcome that and grasp that kind of minimalism! At the same time, there are many perks of it like the flexible design, better in performance as compared to other python frameworks, lesser black-box stuff and of course, lesser dependencies out of the box — other than the python standard library, six and mimeparse are the only dependencies.

Projects and college

Back when I started off with some personal projects of my own, many disregarded about the problem I was solving, having no other option I preferred to continue with it. Iterating the user’s feedback, today it’s codebase has changed by over 90%. Present-day: it pays off well, at least way more than satisfying my expenses. Almost quarter to half a million users turn up monthly (dedicating less than 5 hours a month). The same people who disregarded it, now say it was all luck. Apparently, I’m not a lottery ticket -

“Luck is a big one. Timing is everything. But you kind of make your own luck if you stay at it long enough.” 
- Naval Ravikant

I’m not a fan of college studies, I’d say it is a period of self-discovery that revolves all-around personal growth. So frankly, one just goes there and meet people who are doing different things, join student organizations/societies and take part in activities outside their comfort zone. In my case, I joined ACE — Association of Computer Enthusiasts, The Technical Society of Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, Pitampura. We are a group of talented(not me, people say this) and curious technology enthusiasts specializing in various domains like Web Development, Machine Learning, Graphic Designing, Android, IoT etc. I started off my coding journey from this society, getting inspired by the team and the projects they made using their technical skills. For the past three years, we at ACE have helped several students(including me) getting on-board with their developer’s journey and also hosted several sessions on new technologies & conducted hackathons.

In the upcoming months, I plan to further improve my skill set and most probably, start developing a SaaS product.

We are repeatedly told life is short, Let’s not delay living the life we desire. DO IT NOW.

Although this blog is written to the best of my knowledge, if you find any shortcoming you can write to me sam@sameerkumar.website.

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