Harshit Prasad bio photo

Harshit Prasad

Software Engineer - @blinkit, all about search systems - data and infrastructure stuff. Loves to talk about distributed systems and open source.

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My Self Retrospection of the Year 2020.

From past few days, I’m trying to write up a blog. This has been quite a year. In this blogpost, I will be sharing my professional and personal life experiences. It’s time to look back at the year.

Professional Life

My year started by joining Grofers as 6 months Software Engineering Intern. My first day at Grofers was a bit exhausting but with full of excitement. I was introduced to teams at Grofers & understood how Consumer Engineering team is working here. I met a lot of interesting people. We used to go for outdoor lunch every end of 9 day sprint cycle which was really fun. Gradually as time passed, I started having lunch with team members to interact with them & to understand them. Got to know interesting stuff from everyone one. I didn’t knew, during this whole process I made a lot of good friends here!

In March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic happened. Nation-wide lockdown was imposed and everyone started working from home in India.

I was really lucky since my past internship experience was completely remote with diverse team members from Singapore (FOSSASIA) & Geneva (CERN) including few Indians too! Because of this experience, I was able to overcome remote work challenges.

The key to overcome remote work challenge is consistent communication. I made a habit to create a “To-Do” list daily before going to sleep at night. I follow this habit even today. It’s a good practice which keeps you going, keeps you energetic and productive.

I used to have daily standups with the team where we give update around what I did yesterday, what I’m going to do today and if there is any blocker or not. I used to work primarily on Python and Elasticsearch. I got opportunity to explore other tech stacks like Postgres, Kubernetes, AWS, etc. I was never out of tasks. My Engineering Manager / Mentor made sure that I’m experiencing growth and learning professionally by assigning me really good tasks which kept me more productive during the challenging times.

grofers_team My first outdoor lunch with the team

I experienced a really great learning curve (which I experience everyday here). Most of the time went into exploring Software Engineering role where I learnt it’s not all about how much lines of code you wrote. Communication, discipline, excellent coordination, etc are important skills which matters a lot in the Software Engineering!

Finally, I was converted to full time in September 2020! My internship was over! I was really excited to know that I’m professional Software Engineer now. My parents were really happy with my achievement. I’m grateful to my parents for providing me great education and etiquettes which made my personality what I’m today!

Onboarding happened, then I joined a new team in Consumer Engineering which focuses on problems related to Ads & Monetization in Ecommerce. Took me around 1 month to understand the whole project ecosystem. It was really fun to work and especially as a full time employee, I got experiences of being a Scrum Master, participating in Kanban board practices followed in sprint, sprint retros followed by other sprint rituals like sprint planning & grooming sessions where I learnt time estimation of stories & technical efforts required from engineering perspective.

I learnt how to be calm during on-call issues. I still remember, when I was assigned a first on-call issue and I was not able to think of it how I’m going to solve it at all! Gradually, by the end of year I’ve learnt how to debug and resolve production on-call issues & communicate with other teams.

I used to have 1-on-1 sessions with my Engineering Manager where he provides me feedback on my work, growth and discuss about opportunites within the company. The feedbacks were overall on positives side with some suggestions to improve and grow my self professionally.

In October 2020, I gave a talk at PyCon Sweden 2020 on “Building Production Ready Search Engine” using Python and Elasticsearch. This was my first international talk of 30 minutes. I made some mistakes but overall it was a good experience and from my mistakes, I learnt a lot of things which I will not repeat from next time. By giving talk, it also boosted my confidence and improved verbal communication skills.

In November 2020, got a Grofers Knight Nov’20 award - “Consumer Engineering Team Rockstar”.

I helped fellow developers on Stackoverflow and contributed around 50+ questions which overall improved my reputation on Stackoverflow by reaching 1K+ mark.

Personal Life

During the start of the year, I was in my college - packing up to leave hostel and amazing city Jaipur, India. I really had amazing fun and memories during college days.

college_wingmates Photograph with my wingmates before leaving college

Met new people in the office and from the intern’s group too. Moved to Gurgaon for few months but I didn’t really liked Gurgaon, India compared to Bengaluru, India (maybe because I haven’t explored Gurgaon much). On weekends, I used to visit my home. In Gurgaon, I got a really good roommate and a really good friend who now works in Swiggy as Software Engineer. I used to woke up early in the morning and get ready for the office. I made a habit to have morning breakfast in the office itself before standup time. My office was really closed to the place where I was staying. It was only walking distance.

Everything was going normal, but then nation-wide lockdown happened. My physical acitvity reduced to zero. When I started working from home, I always used to work lying down on bed. I was only working, eating and sleeping. I realised a bit late that it was not good for my health. First thing I did was to have a proper work setup to keep sure I follow clean and healthy working habits. I stopped working being on bed and brought a desk, chair and monitor. This boosted my productivity a lot!

I reduced my habit of watching web-series, movies and anime for long time as I wanted to reduce my screen time. I realised that almost my day went from starting to end in front of screen. From November 2020 onwards, I have started reading books. But still I need to improve my time management for reading books.

I started playing badminton daily every evening for 1-1.5 hours after 1 year since I stopped playing because of my college placements and final year coursework. I tried to do some exercise at home but eventually ended up ignoring it because of laziness.

Experimented with new hairstyle. Everyone liked the new look but I’m back to normal look now.

The pandemic situation became worst and in every country lockdown was imposed. Travelling was banned. I missed travelling in year 2020 a lot. I hope in year 2021, pandemic situation improves and opportunities to attend international conferences and travelling activity comes back to normal. But chances seems to be a bit less since most of the conferences has announced their 2021 event as completely remote event.

I spent my last week of the year by spending time with my family, video calling with my college friends and wrapping up some personal pending tasks. I decided to write this blog and publish it at the end of year 2020 but somehow things got a bit delayed. The idea to write this blog was given by my friend who is working in CERN as Software Engineer in Geneva, Switzerland. He is my batchmate from my college. If he is reading this, thanks a lot for giving me such an inspiration to write self retrospection as blog.

Take Away Points

Professional Life

  • Keep looking for opportunities.
  • Communication is the key to improve professional and personal relations.
  • Make your good online presence.
  • Appreciate work done by your peers and make their day.
  • Maintain a notebook to keep track of your tasks and goals.
  • Keep learning and exploring new challenges in life.

Personal Life

  • Keep reading books.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Regular workout.
  • Make a routine and follow it every day.
  • Take care of people and environment around you.

What’s Next

  • Explore and learn different tech-stack, design patterns, CS fundamentals, etc.
  • Making a consistent habit of reading books and blogging.
  • Focus to improve my verbal communication and overall personality.
  • Start having daily home workout routine and a healthy diet.
  • Learn car driving.
  • Start to travel few places in India once the COVID-19 scenario improves.
  • Give at least 2 international talks consisting of 30-40 mins in a reputed conference.

I’m grateful to have good friends and office colleagues for consistently supporting me and a overall person I’m today. I wish everyone a Happy New Year 2021. Stay healthy. Have a productive and successful year ahead. That’s all from my side. Thanks for reading.