Apoorva Babu · September 2, 2019

From Musician to Lawyer to a Coder

The story of how a law student worked his way to Gojek’s product engineering division.

In order to be indispensable, being ‘good’ is not good enough.

Gaurav Rakheja understood this fact very early in life. In his pursuit of purpose, Gaurav experimented with the things he was good at — from playing the guitar at a concert while in school to presiding over moot court sessions as a law student. However, none of these seemed like a suitable career choice. Soon after coming to this conclusion, he dropped out.

A pragmatic chap, this Gaurav. He didn’t experiment with difficult career choices in which he suspected he might only ever be average.

This worked out well for him, and us. Today, Gaurav is a full-stack engineer at Gojek.

Interestingly, while he had used computers for school projects, Gaurav had no real clue about coding. For him, mastering computers was like mastering any other tool.

After dropping out of law school, he decided he would pursue a career stream that came naturally to him. It was during this time that a Bachelors in Computer Application (BCA) course caught his eye. He took it up, with the only intention being to associate a degree to his name.

To his surprise, the course treated him well, and by the end of the first semester, he was among the top 25 students of the batch. Gaurav had always preferred practical learning to classroom learning and was confident about qualifying for a Google Summer of Code (GSOC) internship.

The internship interview, however, had a shock in store. It was during the interview that he found out, much to his embarrassment, that programming languages like C++ and Java Programming Basics, were outdated.

He liked computers, he was doing the right course, so why didn’t he pass the GSOC requirement criteria?

The allure of formal education began to fade. He knew he couldn’t rely only on college. So Gaurav made up his mind to self learn and reapply for GSOC.

Over the next few months, Gaurav invested 16 hours a day between work and study. Before he knew it, he was coding like a pro. Six months into an internship he took up with a consultancy, Gaurav was absorbed as an employee. During this time, he reapplied for GSOC, and was accepted instantly. Soon after, he completed his BCA degree. Gaurav now had a job and three successful internships under his belt.

Fortune favours the persistent, it would seem.

Gaurav’s work ethic landed him the role of a senior developer with a European company. Less than a year after graduating from college, he had work-life balance and the monetary comfort that people usually enjoy after years. Was this it?

His passion for his work led Gaurav to now seek out mentors to learn and get feedback from. He wanted to work somewhere he could turn his passion into impact. The search was not over.

It was around this time that Gaurav attended a conference where Gojek’s India head Sidu Ponnappa was speaking. After learning more about Gojek and interacting with people, he was amazed by the culture, philosophy, ideology, challenges posed, learning, and growth opportunities.

He didn’t waste any time in applying, and also fell in love with the Gojek’s in-depth interview process, receiving constructive feedback on his code, and realising this was a place where he could learn at his own place.

Fast forward four months, and Gaurav is now coding, teaching and mentoring. He has taken Ruby on Rails sessions for engineers who came down from Indonesia; is shadowing his team leader to enhance his mentoring skills, and was one of the coaches at Gojek’s latest Bootcamp session — grooming future talent for the challenges presented by a #SuperApp.

It’s been a long, winding road, but Gaurav now appears content. In his own words:

“There is so much to do and learn. For the first time, I know where my story is going, and have a clear roadmap of how to achieve excellence”.

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