3 years as a Software Engineer

I have been drafting bits and pieces of this blog for around 6 months, finally putting everything together.

I recently completed 3 years working as a Software Engineer at HackerRank; it has been an amazing journey filled with learnings, growth, challenges, and a lot of coding!

The Beginning

It all began in September 2020, when I stumbled upon a LinkedIn post announcing that HackerRank was hiring SDE interns. With a mix of excitement and curiosity, I applied, hoping to try my luck.

A week later, I received a message from Vaasavi, inviting me to schedule my first interview with Anil.

As a regular user of HackerRank Community for practicing coding challenges and preparing for job searches, I was already fascinated by the platform. I often wondered about the code and the scale behind the scenes that powered such a large community of millions of developers.

In preparation for my interview, I delved deeper into the company’s origins and came across their Humble Beginnings which inspired me (it still does) and solidified my desire to be a part of this team.

The Interview Experience

Excitement and nerves blended as the interview day arrived. My initial interview lasted 25 minutes, and shortly after an hour, Vaasavi contacted me again. This time, it was to schedule another interview, but with Hari, the CTO himself. I was both thrilled and apprehensive at the opportunity to interact directly with him. The next day, I was dressed up in formals, waiting for the Zoom link to be shared. As the interview time came closer and I didn't receive a link, my panic started but that is when my phone rang, and on the other side was Hari, ready to take my interview over a phone call.

And with this email began the journey with HackerRank

The Journey

From that email to today, obviously, a lot has happened. Landed my first job, transitioned into a full-time role, worked on building Hexagon. Visited Bangalore for the first time to meet the entire team, paused Hexagon, got promoted to SDE II. We formed the Labs Team, spearheading new product development from scratch.

Learned something new every day, worked on the HackerRank Community, broke the entire Community in production, relocated to Bangalore, and eventually, worked from the office with the entire team. Fast forward to today, being a Senior Software Engineer.

Reflecting on these, life seems to have come full circle. From being captivated by how HackerRank Community worked behind the scenes to becoming a part of the team that builds and maintains it, a team that pushes me to become a better version of myself every day.

I could keep writing about each of the phases in the journey in detail, but here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Software engineering is so much more than just coding. It’s about understanding the user’s problems, imagining yourself in their place, and creating solutions. It also involves thinking about how different parts of the system will work together, how it will grow, and how easy it will be to maintain.

  • Being able to debug code is important, but often overlooked. When you write code, consider how it will run and how it might break. Think about how you’ll fix it when it’s live. Make sure to leave trails in your code to trace what happened, store data in easy-to-read formats, and invest in good tools for managing and fixing issues.

  • Take responsibility for the systems you work on, not just your code. Act like you’re personally in charge of the entire system’s success, from start to finish.

  • Be consistent. You don’t need to be an expert at everything right away. You’ll get better by doing things over and over. The first time you try something, you might make mistakes. But next time, you’ll know what to do and what to avoid. Your brain will naturally get better at it.

  • Every decision in software development involves trade-offs, whether it's choosing between different technologies, balancing speed with quality, or allocating time between competing tasks. You need to understand what needs to be prioritized first and move forward.

  • You can do so much more than you think. Just trust yourself, love your work, show up every day, and give it your 100%.

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