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Year in Review 2021: Open Source, Internships, Talks


Hey there! My name is Harsh. I am a senior year undergraduate studying at Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology, Chennai, India. Taking inspiration across a few blogs online, I have decided to write myself a “Year in Review” to identify the things that went good and the things that didn’t. It is also a unique way for me to introspect the happenings of the past and the lessons to take away for the future.

Like the past year, this year was also clouded in uncertainty. The second wave of COVID-19 had hit India, plans of going back to the college went downhill, and my life went on the bumpiest ride I have ever imagined. But good things happen, and more than anything else, I had one of the most fruitful years of my life. And why is that exactly? Because I have grown personally and professionally, done more fulfilling things, gained life perspectives and the will to face adverse times.

The year was earmarked by a few things. I got my first deep dive into open-source software and got the opportunity to contribute to various organizations. I also received opportunities to work with a wide number of companies across multiple spectrums, ranging from Cloud Native to Web3 and core PyData stack. This year was also special for me since I received my first ever job, spoke at international conferences, mentored my first intern and more. Without much ado, let's jump into the review!

🌞 Making Open-source contributions

Perhaps the best thing I did this year, was making a lot of fruitful open source contributions. And it did wonders for me! In May, I was selected as a Google Summer of Code (GSoC) student at MetaCall. GSoC is an annual open-source program focussing on helping student developers (and now even professionals!) get started with open source. I worked on developing an IPython kernel for MetaCall Core, which was one of the most challenging problems that I tackled in my programming career. I passed GSoC with rave reviews from my mentors and I have been invited to be a mentor for GSoC 2022!

GSoC Acceptance Mail at MetaCall

Things go parallel as well! While I was inclined towards using Google Summer of Code to the best of my capability, I had some other plans as well. And this materialized in me getting into Google Season of Docs (GSoD), another open-source program, but for technical writers. It was a dream come true, getting into two of the most highly-regarded open-source programs at the same time. My project, around developing a content strategy, centralizing documentation and developing a community website at moja global, was declared successful and currently, I am leading a documentation working group at moja global and also mentoring an Outreachy intern on a project.

GSoD Acceptance Mail at moja global

This does not end here! Around my GSoC completion, I received an internship offer from QuanSight (more on this below) where I got to work on the DevOps side of the PyData community. My project was involved in re-engineering CI/CD pipelines for SciPy, a popular data science and statistics package used by thousands of developers across the world. The project was quite successful and I received my first job offer to continue working on the DevOps aspects of PyData.

Re-engineering CI/CD pipelines for SciPy with GitHub Actions tweet

🚀 Participating in communities

2021 was the year where I pulled the curtains together on my community involvement. I left Tesseract Coding, a community I created with fellow Microsoft Learn ambassadors after my purpose was served. The month of December also serves as my last month as a Microsoft Learn Student Ambassador and I’m grateful to be one of the first from the campus and the experience it has helped me gain.

But I found new ways to continue working with a close-knit community. After a successful tenure as a Technical Lead at my college’s Google Developer Student Clubs (GDSC), I was selected as the Community Lead. This opportunity has allowed me to work with my fellow college mates on working towards a more inclusive and healthy learning culture. At one point, I and my co-lead Kamal were interacting with more than 900 students on community events where we discussed our journeys, experiences with the community and made the best out of them (Join our server!).

GDSC Community Lead Selection Mail

Lastly, this year has also helped me interact with open-source communities. I have been recently working with LocalStack and moja global on their open-source community development, and I’m excited about how my efforts would play around the next year. Developer relations has been an interesting space for me, playing right at the intersection of code, community and content (I call them C3!).

✨ Rocking in Internships

The year started with my first Developer Relations internship getting concluded at DeepSource. In January, I started with my internship at Red Hat, the world’s largest open-source software company, with their CCS team working on OpenShift DevTools. During the internship, I contributed to a wide range of Red Hat products ranging from Developer Console, Pipelines, Helm, DevFiles and others. I was also a part of a fun team (nick-named Pro-PR) to develop a dashboard to help OpenShift maintainers track various pull requests across diverse projects scattered around OpenShift. At the conclusion of my internship, I have received a pre-placement offer (PPO) along with 8 Red Hat rewards.

Red Hat Rewards

At the conclusion of my GSoC, I received an internship offer from Quansight Labs. It was fun talking to Ralf Gommers, who became one of my mentors during my internship, and I was glad to get an opportunity to work on the PyData stack. My internship involved working with CI/CD pipelines, details of which are encapsulated in this blog, and currently, I work on QHub, an automated data science platform developed in-house at Quansight. Working at Quansight has been one of the most challenging yet interesting things to do this year!

However, the real fun of internships come while working with startups. At the conclusion of my internship at Red Hat, I received an opportunity to work at Economize, an early-stage startup focussing on analyzing and optimizing cloud costs. It was a great opportunity, especially seeing a project mature to find a market fit and seeing the alignment with an overall product idea! Working while wearing multiple hats at once under the mentorship of Anirudh has been perhaps one of the best things to happen this year!

🎤 Engaging in Talks

One of the most distinct things to happen this year was my participation in conferences. While I have been a participant before, this year I was on the speaker side. Contrary to my open-source contributions and community efforts, it involved my direct engagement with a wider and more diverse audience.

All of this started with a cold message by Saloni Shah if I was looking to participate in a speaker’s session at BelPy. BelPy is a Python conference hosted at Belgavi. I decided to pounce on this opportunity and submitted my first ever talk proposal. Luckily it was selected and I presented my first conference talk on building serverless applications using AWS Chalice.

After BelPy, I submitted many proposals across various conferences and I was selected as a speaker in some of them. This year, I spoke at PyCon India, PyCon Malaysia, PyCon Thailand, EuroPython to name a few. My talks centred around building polyglot applications, serverless development and in-general programming.

PyCon India 2021 talk on Polyglot development

Apart from this, I have participated in smaller events and webinars organized by Google Developer Student Clubs, ACM Chapters, IEEE chapters and student communities. Though I have practically lost count of the sessions I was a speaker at, most of my sessions revolved around open-source contributions, cloud development, serverless, system design and more. I was also a part of my first-ever podcast session with Brij Sethi on contributing to open-source and excelling in college, which is now available on Spotify.

📗 Resuming reading habit

I have been a reading fanatic since my childhood but after the past rough years, it was the first opportunity for me to resume my habit. The newfound reading habit has helped me further lay the groundwork of planning my own literature ventures (Yes, I’m writing a trilogy) but more than anything, it opens a new gateway for me to a different world. Some of the best books I read this year are:

And did I mention that I'm reviewing my first book? I am working with Packt to work on my first technical book review which would be centred around building CI/CD pipelines for microservices using AWS Code pipeline. The book would be available around the second quarter of 2022 (you might find my name there!).

🙏 Shout-outs

The whole year in review would be left incomplete without them. They are the ones who created the maximum impact on me during this year and helped me succeed overall. I am truly grateful to all of them for all the kindness, mentorship and support they have given me throughout my journey (in no particular order).

Brij Sethi, Jake Berger, Kamal Sharma, Andrew O'Reilly-Nugent, Shubham Karande, Soham Shah, Jyoti Bisht, Rajiv Singh, Vicente Eduardo Ferrer Garcia, Gil, Ralf Gommers, John Lee, Preeti Chandrashekar, Cheryl Minkema, Thomas Rausch, Anirudh Dagar, Eskild Eriksen, Kushashwa Ravi Shrimali, Anirudh Murali, Souvik Sarkar, Swaraj Phadtare.

🎉 Miscellaneous Wins

Some of my miscellaneous wins this year that don't necessarily fall into any of the above categories are:

  • Won the first prize in Capgemini Codealore Hackathon and a special mention in the Badger Hacks.
  • Explored Blockchain and Web3 for the first time and contributed to the development of Melange.
  • Secured a Software Engineering internship at HackerRank for 6-months next year.
  • Crossed 1400+ followers on GitHub and trended on GitHub, often more than once!
  • Became an Outreachy mentor for the Winter 2021 cohort of interns!
  • Picked up a guitar and developed a basic understanding of the instrument while learning to play.
  • Mentored a number of new and passionate students to get started with technology, internships and open source.
  • Bought my first bike, first MacBook and first iPhone (all by my own)!

💫 Wrapping up

While this year went ahead wonderfully, there is still a lot on my bucket list for the next year. One of my favourite poems is Robert Frost's "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening". The last stanza, in particular, resonates with me:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

My work is never done. There's always a new project to complete, a new dream to chase, and places to be. I have responsibilities. It's wonderful to take part in the world, so as much as I need to rest, there's still a long way to go. For 2022, I will try to:

  • Start my first full-time job and graduate with flying colours!
  • Read more books while tracing myself to old classics.
  • Help more folks get into open source and tech careers.
  • Visit southern states in India for a vacation.
  • Participate in an in-person conference.
  • Build a product and launch it on Product Hunt.
  • Be content with whatever I have accomplished!

The last item may never happen, but that's okay. Without the satisfaction of completion, I'll always find room to improve and do more with my life. Till then, see you some other time!