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Friends to Colleagues at Leapfrog


When I graduated from college and was far from confident about my future, I had a couple of options in front of me. Each had its own set of challenges and each had its benefits. The way I recall it today, it was something like this.

switch (my career-path) {
case 1:
Continue with what I was doing - some work here and there and swing across ideas that crossed mine or my friend’s mind.
case 2:
Take a shot at understanding organizational practices and swim into the ocean of countless treasures of programming.
default:
There is nothing here.
}

Well, you are smart enough to crack this enigma of a code. I chose case 2 and amongst many options before me, I yearned for that best shot and nailed that down.

I must tell you this, the process to get into Leapfrog is far from a fairy tale. You must write the best lines of pseudo-code you have ever written. And when you do, you face these giants – who fire questions from all over and you have to bravely take some to your guts and duck a few that can bleed your nose pretty bad (I am sure it’s exaggerated, but you know, what’s not in writing?). When I had made it through, I was feeling ecstatic, not alone but with Krishu, my good old friend from my university and 19 other hopeful interns.

So we took on this tedious (6 weeks for many, 12 for some extra ordinaries) journey and tried to shine through it. I was already familiar with more than half the faces, so it was less scary in a way, but a whole lot more competitive than anyone ever admitted it to be. And of course, with mentors like Kailash whose counter-intuitive approach towards motivation just fueled that further. We had to do our best.

The internship went by in a flash and less than half of us were selected. Saugat who is our Engineering Manager brought us to the second floor and made us have a seat beside one another. That is when our journey began.

Six friends from Kathmandu University (KU) together started their career as software engineers at Leapfrog. However, in our heads, it was like a continuation of our old university days. It felt as though K.U. had a cool lab in Kathmandu.

We were liberated from those dreadful 1-2 hours of traveling to Dhulikhel where our university was located and could instead come study at this rightfully acclaimed – “Oasis of Kathmandu”.

Final presentation at K.U.
In our final presentation at K.U. 4 out of 5 are now Leapfroggers.
From left: Anup, Rajshree, Krishu, Aashish Gyawali

Now, let’s fast forward 11 months, we are all working on the same project and can’t help reminiscing the old days where we worked together in college projects. However, practicing professionalism with your friends is different than college days. It had its own pros and cons.

Cons first – I still had to see Nadeem’s (wanna be friendly) face and another project friend Rajshree who followed our project group even after college. Seriously Rajshree? Who in their right minds would have imagined that? Nothing felt new. And I cannot stress that enough. During the early days, we were having fun but we could all tell from each other’s face that this was not exactly what we pictured our work life would be.

In many ways, it took away countless once-in-a-lifetime feelings. Seeing all the new faces, feeling lonely in a corner, having doubts about whether or not I belonged here – none. And no, these are not entirely bad, we ought to have some, at least that is what I believed. But, there I was beside my room-mate writing codes just like in our college days. Slowly, the fear of just being limited to a bubble crept in and it was unique because a new employee should feel those unknowns.

Those were all the cons. Everything else was for the better. And the way I see it today, those early signs and doubts wasn’t things that mattered a lot.

Let’s fast forward to eight months. Things have changed almost exactly how we had anticipated. Now we can easily talk to Ayush, our first PM about who he reminds us of, while back then it was just all behind the bench gossips. On a serious note, I think each of us, as an individual, has grown over these months.

Today, I barely see any of us as the same old college mates. It is strange, but I have to say we have become more professional. We analyze our every move, which back then used to be just another shot in the dark.

First, I still remember during our final presentation back in the college when Krishu had to bluff a professor about “Gradient Descent” when all he knew about it was the word itself. We were not caught, instead, our professor was so impressed that he sent our final paper for a national level presentation (not kidding, Rajshree can validate). Those were sheer luck, that ended as soon as we left the college premises.

The office is entirely different story. Krishu does not have to bluff about anything to anyone. While presenting a feature and recommendations to a client, is just putting thoughts into words that we iterate over until we find a right solution. While doing that in itself take a lot of learning and research, Leapfrog in a way has got you covered. With guilds that specifically help you open up and articulate your feelings to your seniors and encouraging you to think out loud, things were simply made easier.

I remember this one time, I was badly stuck while virtualizing the Vaadin Grid. But with the likes of Achyut who is our our team lead and mentor and has the knack for coming up with multiple solutions overnight helped me bounce through that hurdle. You could never find him sitting at his desk, always moving seats with each of us. I wonder how he is coping during the lockdown.

Secondly, looking back to our college days, we are all equally guilty of taking everything on or letting someone else take on the entire semester project. Now today it’s the exact opposite. At the university, irrespective of whether or not you complete the project, you would pass the semester with flying colors, but now, it is not the case. And that, my friends, is exactly the change we all should strive for.

You have your own set of responsibilities, which when you accomplish gives a sense of triumph. Every other task completed is a victory under your belt and there won’t be a stone unturned, to make you feel so, by your seniors. From a round of applause initiated by Praneen to a long speech from Kritika, they all mean to appreciate.

I vividly remember this one time, helpless and compelled by habit, I had taken on more tasks than I could digest into my plate. It felt doable at first, but a week passed by and it went on to become overwhelming. This was when I learned a valuable lesson of teamwork, and to my surprise this was more satisfying than it ever had been in college. My friend Nadeem gallantly took on some of my load and saved me like a hero. I also realized that his wanna-be-friendly attitude was kind of genuine.

Lastly, I must say we were a successful project group at college. With Rajshree’s brain and our face, we were a perfect combination. As much as we trusted her with her coding, she had an unadulterated belief towards our ability to talk professors out.

Today, on the contrary, we all have the best of both worlds. Rajshree is more than confident while delivering the KSS (Knowledge Sharing Sessions, yes we have those too) to the team and no one ever doubted her valedictorian (sadly, some social work student’s 4 GPA took that away from her) knowledge. We, on the other hand, are busy getting our hands dirty with keyboards. It is all falling right into places. Also, she has this pure ecstasy during the beginning of the month. She said, “Now I get paid while getting to work with such cool guys from my college.” That was her exact words if I remember correctly, so you get the gist. She is happy.

I cannot quite sum things up in a sentence. But if I really have to, I would say we all have emphatically grown this past semester of our life. From those timid little college students who had anything but questions in their minds to grown professional who had them all answered in a countable number of days. Writing codes for the sake of writing has now become creating something to solve the problems of the real world, and that is quite a feat.

Just as Krishu said- “We never cared to even think that something we created could go live, never mind even impacting lives of people.” He was correct, it had never crossed our mind. And now, realizing our undreamt dream is surreal. Talking to the scientists who are happily using our product is something I take a lot of pride in.

Of course, all of this doesn’t quite bring tears to my eyes. But the feeling is certainly comparable and it makes up for what I felt was missing during my early days at work.


Want to start your career at Leapfrog? We are taking applications for internship.

Anup Sedhain

Anup Sedhain is a Software Engineer at Leapfrog Technology. He is fascinated by technology and literature.

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