Insightful Yuva

Coding during Quarantine

What happens when a programmer is expected to stay at home, and not allowed to step outside for a couple of days? If you know a little about coders, you would realize that the answer to the aforementioned question is very simple. We sit in front of our laptops, and code. Seems very apparent, right? Well, that’s how my quarantine commenced too. And then, all of a sudden, I receive a message, stating that my team had won the coding competition, yet again. It seems as though we had just finished our Split examinations. It all happened speedily. So, let me take a pause here, go back in time, and explain how the last few months had completely changed my perspective and knowledge about programming, or actually, about life itself.

It all started during Ideation Week, where I was given an opportunity to express my passion for Artificial Intelligence. I saw it as a great platform to showcase my skills and knowledge about the subject. The appreciation that I received for the session was beyond anyone’s expectation. Soon we were busy preparing for our split examination. And that is when Principal ma’am suggested my friends, and myself, about a coding competition, “Let’s code Coimbatore”, organized by KGiSL Institute of Technology and GUVI. Although very much interested in coding, I had never taken up a coding competition. I accepted it as soon as I heard about it. We chose to develop an online feedback system, for students to give their feedback on teachers, anonymously. We had about a week’s time to develop a fully functional website. 

On 29 November 2019, my team, along with two other teams, were invited to KGiSL to present our website. I was thrilled, at the same time, nervy too. We presented our website and were then allowed to interact with Industrial Experts, from GUVI. Talking with them, I understood one thing. School is a very safe and secure place for kids. A school always helps its students. The world outside school works very differently. To survive in the outside world, we need to put in a lot of effort in the field. There is no one to lift you when you come across obstacles. You are supposed to cross them on your own. I got to know how life outside school would be like. The people from GUVI gave us a lot of information regarding careers and how we as students have a lot of time to improve our soft skills. They treated us very professionally and wanted us to prepare ourselves for the industry. They didn’t see us as students but as developers. I got to know what I had to do in order to survive in this field of programming. Meeting the professionals, talking about the field, all this was way more informative than what my subject books could give.

The next day, we were invited for the closure ceremony, and my team had won the award “Creative Coders”. The very first coding competition for us, and we topped. A very proud moment for all of us! Not only we had won the award, but we also managed to contribute to a LIMCA Record, hosting a 30-hour coding fest. The school also received a “Kingdom of God” award. A week before, we were discussing what chapters to study, and now we are discussing what to do next, to get a job in this field. Yes, academics is important, but ultimately, it is one’s own skill and effort that is going to give him the golden egg.

Now that the first season of the competition is over, we were informed that season 2 is coming up soon, and we were looking forward to it. However, it was time to prepare for the board examination. One month of exuberant preparation and revision, and exams were going on agreeably. But then, there was news that a new virus, “COVID19”, is affecting humans. During the initial time, we didn’t give much importance to it. Little did we know at that time that the Corona Virus would spread all over the world, and would be so deadly that the whole world would be under a great threat. Many people were affected, with the number of deaths increasing day by day. Unfortunately, I had one more board exam to take up, and was stuck up at home, as a lockdown had been imposed all over the country. At this time, I didn’t know much about how the situation would be in a few days.

I was forced to stay at home, and not go out with anyone, for an undefined amount of time. Almost everyone binged on movies and TV series. As a programmer, I thought this was the perfect time for me to develop my skills in coding. Being someone who is interested in Artificial Intelligence, I quickly started working on new projects, building a whole new website hosting several trained Machine Learning models, and enhancing older projects, such as a self-driving car. The quarantine only seemed to keep extending, as the number of positive cases kept increasing, in an exponential manner.

On 1 April 2020, while I was busy trying to debug a piece of code, a notification popped up on my phone, saying that the “Let’s Code Coimbatore – Season 2, Let’s Code for a Cause” is coming up, and this time, it was through an online course, on game development. What better and more productive way to utilize the quarantine?! I immediately gathered my team, and we decided to join the competition, again, this time with much more professionalism. Everything was organized and conducted online is a very neat and clean way by KGiSL, KiTE and GUVI. Yet again, we were given a week’s time to develop a game. This time though, we were given a mentor for our team, who would help us develop our game. I forgot that I was a student who hadn’t even completed grade 12. I turned myself into a full-time developer. Someone who was busy working as a freelancer was now asked to complete a project within a deadline, report updates, and attend daily meetings. For one week, I found myself in a typical work environment. Honestly, I enjoyed every second of it to the core!

Every day I attended Webinars hosted by GUVI, on game development, and recent updates in the field. I remember learning about Sprints and Daily Scrum Meetings in IP subject. Well now, we were given a sprint period of one week, and we had our own daily scrum meetings with our mentor. It was amazing to actually implement something that we had just learnt about in the raw text. Same goes with the version control system and GitHub. Our mentor, Prof. Rajasekaran, KiTE, helped us a lot. He gave his feedback on our progress in the development of the game. He taught us how to present our code, explain it, and how to think in terms of the user who would be actually playing the game. He also let us share our knowledge across teams. We started off the first day with a very formal introduction, and as days went by, we got close, and we were able to communicate more naturally.

For one whole week, I was very busy. During the day, I had at least two meetings every day, on one of the online video meeting services, such as Zoom or Google Meet. There were times when timings clashed, and I had to reschedule a few meetings. During the night, I would sit and code, develop the game, and then off to good sleep. I found myself constantly having to plan everything according to my needs, and it gave me a glimpse of what the life of an employee would be, during work from home. It prepared me for what was about to come, as I finished my schooling.

The results came about four days after we had submitted our game, and as mentioned at the beginning, we won the competition once again. A huge thanks to The Principal, Yuvabharathi Public School, Mr. Anand Jeyasingh, and of course, Prof. Rajasekaran, KiTE for guiding us throughout the competition. The results are because of their constant support. Thanks to Marudhu and team as well, for giving us such healthy competition. If you are a student reading this article, I suggest you to wisely utilize your time to get trained on what you want to take up as your career. Give as much importance to your field of interest as much as you give to academics, maybe even more. Get to know stuff related to your chosen career, more than what is given in your syllabus. Try to do the work that you have to do once you take up that career. It can’t be too early to do something. See if you are genuinely interested in doing the job. If you really like doing it, you won’t feel any difficulty in doing so. Just go for it.

At the time of writing this article, 17 April, 2020, the lockdown is still prevailing and is expected to end in another 2-3 weeks. Hoping that by the time you read this article, the situation will be good, and well under control. If not,
you should know what to do next.

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