Sukanya Mandal of Capgemini, Manaswini Das of Red Hat, and Niharika Krishnan of TCS were our guests on Times Techies Webinar last week, and it was a treat to listen to them. If you are a student, or a fresh graduate, we would urge you to listen to the webinar on our Facebook page.
Sukanya said there was no Python course or training in her college, and she learnt Python because she had to work on a data science project. “I explored and learnt,” she said.
Niharika said she learnt Python in her second year of college because of an interview she had to clear. “So I went on a two-week crash course. That was good enough to clear the interview and then it got me into data science, and I kept learning,” she said.
Ditto for Manaswini. She started with Java, for Android programming. And then started using Python for visualisations. Asked if it makes sense to do a certification course in Python, Manaswini said many companies hire without any certification.
Niharika said if you put a certification in your CV, you should be ready to answer questions on how you used that knowledge to work on projects. “Projects have more impact than certifications,” she said.
All three reiterated that point multiple times during the hour long discussion. It’s critical to apply your knowledge of a programming language to actual projects. Develop solutions to real-life problems.
Manaswini said you should not wait for a company to hire you to start working. “Work with existing open source programmes. Get some code contributed or merged into one of the well known open source softwares,” she said. GitHub is one of those places you could do that.
She also recommended internship programmes like Outreachy, Google Summer of Code, GirlScript Summer of Code. Outreachy organises three-month paid internships with free and open-source software projects for people who are typically underrepresented in tech. Hackathons are another place where you can showcase yourself.
Sukanya urged youngsters to be part of communities. “Communities help us connect to like-minded individuals, learn from them, collaborate with them. I know people who started as students, gave talks at small events, and then at larger conferences and now they are stars,” she said.
There are women focused communities, like Women in Data Science, Women in Machine Learning & Data Science. Sukanya, Niharika and Manaswini are all active in PyLadies, an international mentorship group that helps women become active participants and leaders in the Python open-source community.