– Smiti Oswal
As a child, I was always drawn to mathematics and problem-solving. I knew that I would pursue something in STEM. Later when I grew up and had to make a choice, I began thinking about it as a career option and doing something in technology. After getting to know what computer science engineering is, I really liked the career prospects and decided to pursue BTech in Computer Science. I appeared for Class 12 exams in 2020 and scored 91.33 per cent marks from the Maharashtra board.
I prepared for JEE Main from a coaching institute in Pune. After cracking JEE Advanced, I secured a seat in Computer Science Engineering at IIT Mandi in 2021 and now I am in my third year.
Initially, the classes were held online due to Covid and when things got a little better, we started arriving at the institute. The start of our session in online mode created a lot of confusion. We did not have any contact with seniors or with our classmates. After coming to the institute, things started falling into place and our batch adjusted well.
I am the first in my family to get into an IIT. After completing my graduation, I want to work as a software developer in the tech industry. I want to have some industrial experience before I pursue postgraduation.
A day at IIT Mandi
A regular day at IIT Mandi involves attending classes which is a mix of attending lectures, going to laboratories, taking tutorials and allocating time for self-study and assignments.
The academics in IIT Mandi is obviously quite rigorous but we are also exposed to a variety of culture when we enter an institute like IIT.
Back during my school days, the interaction was limited to only a small group of people, however in IIT, we meet a diverse group of people and learn about new opportunities and experiences.
I do a lot of things right from taking long walks and jogging around the campus to playing chess and participating in events, hackathon and coding competitions.
Managing clubs and IIT studies
In college, time management is quite crucial. I try to plan my schedule as much as possible and try and allocate time for club activities and studies. Academics are both full of learning and can be hectic simultaneously. Club activities balance the stress the hectic schedule gives us and provide the provision to interact and contribute to the college culture.
I am part of the programming club of my college and the Association of Computing and Machinery Women (ACM-W). Also, I am the co-ordinator of the web-development cell of science and technology of IIT Mandi and other than these I am also involved in the chess club of the institute.
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Most enriching internship experience
In my second year of college, seniors guided me to apply for the Google STEP internship. The internship programme is focused on providing development opportunities to students from groups historically underrepresented in tech. I was fortunate enough to get selected amongst the top 42 candidates all over India. This opportunity granted me the chance to work at Google’s Bengaluru office in the summer of 2023. It provided a real-world glimpse into the tech industry. It was an absolute dream come true.
The biggest challenge I faced at IIT Mandi was the weather which is cold throughout the year. The weather in the part of Maharashtra, where my hometown is located, is generally warm. The food, no matter where you stay cannot be compared to home-cooked food. IIT Mandi mess, is, however, always accommodating of our choices in food.
Life at IIT Mandi has been transformative. The transition from living in the comfort of home to living in a hostel where we are responsible for almost everything has been exciting.