Apoorva Babu · July 23, 2019

From no computer science degree to a Gojek Engineer: Aniket Rao

GoFood Product Engineer Aniket Rao recounts the journey that brought him to Gojek

You don’t need a Computer Science degree to be an engineer.

Exhibit A: Aniket Rao, Product Engineer at GO-FOOD. He learned coding by playing video games, attending tech conferences, watching YouTube videos, and reading books.

Aniket was fascinated by computers from a young age, and would often spend time tinkering with them. At age 11, he wrote his first line of code for a calculator application and decided this was the life he wanted to pursue.

“The thrill of creating something out of nothing is the best part of coding, and the feeling is the same every single time.”

Aniket’s fascination soon turned to obsession. However, it also started affecting his grades at school, which worried his parents. Their concern for his studies led to Aniket’s parents forbidding him from using the computer except during summer break. While this move improved his grades at school, he detested formal education.

When Aniket reached a career-determining crossroads, he chose to pursue BBA+IT — simply because it was the shortest degree with some element of computer application.

He was confident that he wanted to be a coder and build exciting applications (the only other profession that interested him was to be a professional footballer). Firm in his choice, Aniket decided to take a risk, and sit out the campus interviews to be a coder instead.

After college, he worked as an intern at a startup to gain some experience. Here he got an opportunity to build an app to aggregate football players in the neighbourhood. He used basic coding skills — PHP and Wordpress plug-ins — to develop the app. Once he finished building it, he showed the app to his other coder friends. They told him it would have been better if he had used Ruby instead of PHP. Ankit’s response to this was:

“Wait a minute. What the hell is Ruby?”

Upon researching Ruby, Aniket was impressed by the sheer potential of the language, and how it could be used to build intrinsic solutions. He invested a year learning the language and aspired to work in hardcore engineering companies. His shortlist at the time included C42 Engineering (Sidu Ponnappa’s company), which he read in the news had been acquired by GOJEK.

His work experience landed him a senior engineer role in a startup where he was the first engineer, along with two other founders.

“The feeling of writing the first line of code for a company is unparalleled,” says Aniket.

Simultaneously, he also started helping a coder friend to teach coding at an academy. This contributed to Aniket’s learning immensely, and he continues to teach to this day. For him, it is the ultimate stress buster.

In between all this, he went on a conference spree, and as it turned out, most of the conferences he attended were sponsored by GOJEK. Aniket wanted to solve challenging problems, and from the numerous conferences he had attended, he knew GOJEK was an engineer’s playground. Finally, he mustered his will, applied to GOJEK, and was selected for the interview.

Aniket recalls how he solved over 80 problems on a whiteboard and read three coding books the week before his interview. He didn’t have a professional Computer Science degree — what were his chances?

At GOJEK, a resume is just the beginning — what matters is skills and a hunger to learn and make a difference.

Needless to say, Aniket’s passion for coding and his yearning for creative challenges was worth far more than his educational background.

“That’s my story. At every stage, I failed 100 times before succeeding 3 or 4 times. GOJEK is exactly how I expected it to be. I learn every day, and absorb knowledge just by sitting alongside some of the best engineering minds in the country.”

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