From Mechanic to Software Engineer: A Coding Journey | by the TinkerHub Foundation | TinkerHub | February 2022

Even without previous experience, investing in new skills can launch your career in a different field.

The saying “choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” rings true for Nithine ARnow a Software Engineer at IBS.

Although he doesn’t come from a computer background or have any coding experience, his hard work and thirst for knowledge landed him the role at IBS.

Read about his advice, struggles, and ultimate triumph as he drastically changed his career from mechanics to software.

Hello. I am Nithin, from Ernakulam. I did my B. Tech in Mechanical Engineering at SCMS School of Engineering and Technology, and M.Tech at Government Engineering College, Thrissur. I worked as assistant professor in mechanical engineering department at SNMIMT college, Ernakulam. I am currently a software developer at IBS.

Humble beginnings

There’s nothing particularly remarkable about the way I started. I did pretty well in school and got into SHM college in Kollam. But I was not admitted because I wanted to improve my entry ranking.

My efforts combined with the support of the coaching class allowed me to pass the entrance exam and then join SCMS College for my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. I graduated with 69%, but didn’t have a chance to get a job during the on-campus internship. I had no work experience other than two paid internships that I did to meet course requirements that don’t really have any value in the job market. So I decided to take the GATE entrance exam for post-graduation. I worked part-time during my GATE coaching and completed my Masters in Mechanical Engineering (2018). I then held an assistant professor position in the mechanical engineering department of SNM College (February 2019-July 2021).

Financial struggles

Working at SNM, I had a constant desire to learn more and improve myself. I wanted to pursue a PhD. and this time i worked hard and got 3rd rank in NIT making stream for winter 2020 admissions; but unfortunately, Ph.D. vacancies were only available for the first two rank holders this semester.

Since my family was not financially strong, I decided to look into different options, including going abroad for better paying jobs to support them. All things considered, I decided to pursue my PhD. in Ireland. The first step of this trip was to take the IELTS exams, which would allow me to apply for my study visa. Now all I had to do was give my best in the preparation and the exam. I was supposed to pay my IELTS exam fee within a week, but things were spiraling out of control. The pandemic affected me indirectly. My college salary was cut in half. I had my college loan to pay off and the pay cut made it harder to make ends meet.

A new chapter

In the midst of this crisis, a good friend of mine, Bijoy Sijo, introduced me to machine learning and suggested I join a Instagram live by TinkerHub by Praveen Sridhar. I was the IEDC nodal officer at my college at the time and attended the live session hoping to get some information to share with them. That’s when TinkerHub hosted a peer learning and community session at our college and introduced students to coding. I was interested in machine learning, so I was debating moving from mechanics to software. I was hesitant and dubious because I had been in the mechanical field for 8 years. So in the last Q&A session I asked about changing fields from Mechanical to Software and was told that skills are all that matters!

I decided to master coding with advice from a book, — “How to learn Python the hard way”, which was recommended by Bijoy; and he kept me in touch with me every few days. It was difficult at first, so I referred to different resources, including online platforms like Coursera and Udemy. I sometimes asked for help from Bijoy, my colleagues Manoj and Aji from IT who were always ready to help me and continued to motivate and support my learning. I worked on a project related to machine learning, exploring flask, django, open CV, etc. I also started working freelance.

with Bijoy and Manoj

I pursued my dream of teaching students in my previous role, but it didn’t meet my financial needs. It motivated me to change my field of work and to be honest, working in a software/coding space brings a lot more excitement and fun. I enjoy taking on challenges, solving complex problems and working closely with smart, passionate people. The best thing about the tech industry is a constant drive for improvement and innovation and a universal drive to share knowledge and educate.

We have an amazing team here at IBS CDx-DXi where I work on the NLP team. Although we call ourselves the NLP team, we are quite versatile in our roles. During my 6 months here, I worked with front-end, back-end, testing, product support and RnD. For someone like me with a different background, putting on different hats seemed difficult at first, but our team has been incredibly supportive and helpful during the transition.

I was interested in image processing, Python and machine learning when TinkerHub Hire Hack arose and the first opportunity was based on natural language processing (NLP) and web development. During that time, I didn’t know HTML, CSS and JavaScript. However, I took the opportunity to gain more exposure in these areas. After completing HireHack, I received an internship at IBS. IBS Senior Technical Architect – Soumya Sharath gave me the task to learn AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) which is an HTML framework developed by Google to implement a popup chat box in an email. Since I was unfamiliar with HTML, CSS or JS at the time, I had to work and study simultaneously while providing regular updates to Soumya. After completing my internship, in June 2021, I received a job offer as a software engineer at IBS.

I was in the same project team since my internship when I registered as a software engineer at IBS. I was integrated into a job-oriented team and I was able to learn Angular, Postgres, Django, etc. on the pile.

Hire Hack

HireHack is a TinkerHub initiative that connects companies looking for skilled employees. TinkerHub keeps track of their community members and skills they acquire through various programs and refer potential employees based on business needs. It could be a reference the company’s hiring process or an independent hiring program that TinkerHub operates.

If you’re serious about it, lean into it.

Try new things just to try and to seek answers to your own questions. It takes a lot of courage to take a new path, but anyone who can make that decision has what it takes to make it somewhere. There will definitely be bad days along the way. Days when you feel like you haven’t made any progress or feel stuck at something. But don’t give up, take a step back, ask your peers and pull yourself together. You will certainly find out for yourself.

I would say start with some free online tutorials like Corey Schaefer Where Send index to get an idea of ​​the coding. Medium items will help a lot too. I would always recommend a hands-on approach.

And then improve coding and problem solving using HackerRank (for the bases) and LeetCode (for advanced).

You can also refer to some machine learning books such as – Hands-on machine learning with Scikit–Learn and TensorFlow and Hands-on deep learning for cloud, mobile, and edge: Real-world AI and computer vision projects using Python, Keras, and TensorFlow.

Find something that captures your interest, learn more about it, meet other people who are interested in it, then build something awesome with it. Don’t be afraid to fail, and don’t get discouraged if you don’t understand something right away.

Only you can change your life, but you don’t have to do it alone. I am grateful to the people who made this all possible and I am grateful to those I met on this journey.

Thank you, Bijoy, for being an amazing friend and wonderful guide!

TinkerHub Tech Help Server and Discord channels and friends were really a helping hand.

Thanks to Abhinav M Hari, Manoj, Aji, I was able to keep going.

Gopikrishnan Sasikumar Machine learning journey is a real lifesaver!

Dheeraj, Rahul & Ankitha also helped me a lot during Machine learning camps.

I am truly grateful to everyone who has been part of my journey!

With Aji and Manoj

If you want to go deeper into the topics presented, you can contact Nithin on LinkedIn.

We hope you had a great time reading Nithin’s story 🙂

This TinkerHub story was brought to you by Nihla Alp, Shwetha Sasindran, and Erin Edward from the TinkerHub team! If you enjoyed reading this article, show your appreciation by clapping below! Stay tuned for more reading on learning, building, and collaborating.

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