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Spotlight 33: Indu Alagarsamy

It’s already time for Spotlight number 33! Let’s meet Indo Alagarsamy from India. I’m very happy that she wanted to share her story. Enjoy reading!

Name: Indu Alagarsamy
Job: Developer @ Particular Software
Favorite website, app or gadget: NServiceBus and gadgets from Apple
Twitter: @indu_alagarsamy
Site: particular.net (the company I work for)
 What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
When I was in 8th grade, my school in India opened a new computer science center. I still remember checking the computer center out. My math and computer science teacher invited me in to the lab and that was it. I was completely fascinated with the environment. I signed up immediately for a summer time programming class in BASIC. I saw how a few lines of code could transform and create things and I was in love. I found my passion.

I saw how a few lines of code could transform and create things and I was in love. I found my passion. 

What does your working day look like?

I absolutely love working at Particular Software. I am lucky to work in an organization where I can explore all my passions. I could be helping a customer solve a problem on a support incident, or collaborate with my colleagues and pair code to solving a problem together. Or work on an upcoming user group presentation or work on a talk I want to submit to a conference. Or add more documentation or guidance for our users on our site. Or all of the above.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Every problem is special, every solution cool. However if I had to pick one, I’d say NServiceBus. As a developer, I came across NServiceBus when I was learning about Event Driven architecture. NServiceBus is a library which offers .NET developers a very easy and reliable way for their own .NET applications to communicate using messages. I was first a user of this library using it in my projects and then later started contributing to NServiceBus on Github. I built solutions for clients using this API and then later on joined the Particular Software, the makers of NServiceBus, as a member of the development team to work on NServiceBus. It’s cool in so many aspects because what I do has impact. First and foremost, what I help write makes the lives of developers easy. NServiceBus is used in many projects that create a lot of value to the end users, in various businesses such as health care providers, airlines, grocery chains. To be part of this product is really exciting, to know that my work has such a huge impact and helps so many people.

Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you?
This is such a hard question. I have so many people who have helped shape my life in its current form. My dad taught me that nothing in the world is impossible if I put my mind to it. I can rise to whatever heights I want to and all I have to do is believe. I learned the true meaning of who an incorrigible optimist is from him. My grandparents, who taught me that sometimes you have to stand up for what is right no matter how hard it is.  They were active participants in India’s struggle for Independence in those years and hearing inspirational stories from them especially of women who did extraordinary things just stayed with me, helping me to believe that I am capable of doing what I put my mind into and to always speak up for what I believe is right.

On the tech side of things, anyone that knows me knows this about me. To me, “Jobs is GOD! And Apple is my religion”. Steve Jobs in my opinion is the very personification of a “monomyth”. I absolutely love what Steve Jobs did. His products truly have changed the world. His drive, his passion, in moving the needle, pushing the boundaries to build extraordinary products will always remain my inspiration.

Why do you love working in  IT/Tech?
I love solving problems. Always have. And its cool that there could be many ways of solving a problem. The end result of arriving at an answer, watching the program do what you intended to do, work the way you intended it to work, solving a problem for the business making impact in how the users use it, that aspect always fascinated me.

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
No, I don’t have a degree in IT. I majored in Electronic Science. When I graduated out of high school, I’d already made up my mind that my career would be in programming. However, as an experiment I thought, I’d major in Electronic Science, as an avenue to learn something else. However, I also did continue with computer science as a part-time training in Programming while pursuing my degree. So for a couple of years I studied Electronics during day time and computer programming at night. I think I got the best of both worlds. After learning both, I just stuck to my original plan. Sticking to what I love the most and I’ve been programming ever since. Again, I think I got lucky, the instructor at my computer class, he quite simply was the best. He challenged us with more than just the course material. Having a passionate teacher makes all the difference in the world.

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)
Tech is absolutely fun. Don’t be intimidated. If you are already thinking tech, you’re already on a fantastic path. The first time I walked into my BASIC programming class, it was all brand new on so many levels, including the way of thinking. I didn’t do so well. It was heartbreaking. It sucked on so many levels. Solving problems in your head is easy, but trying to show that as a flow chart or coming up with an algorithm for the computer to understand, a complete different story. I was discouraged. However my teacher encouraged me to not give up. She told me that it was my first time ever doing something like this and to give it a little time. She was super encouraging and signed me up for more classes in other aspects and I did well in the subsequent classes! And thanks to her, I ended up taking computer science in high school as an elective. My high school exercises turned to be a programming class in BASIC, the same stuff that I had studied that summer in 8th grade. Suddenly, it wasn’t hard anymore. The pieces just clicked. It was so much more fun. Like all things, it takes practice and the more you do, the better you get. Never give up on your passion.

The other thing is Open Source Software. I wish I’d known this much earlier during my career. There are so many open source projects to contribute. Pick your passion. There’s already someone out there doing it. You can join in and change the world together. You can learn so much by working with a community of fantastic developers from all around the world. Start small, learn big.

 Extra question from Dhruva: What approach do you take to learn new things?
I find a wealth of information through twitter and the group of amazing people I work with. I learn something every single day. My approach to learning new things is read blogs, articles, watch podcasts / video casts on related subject from current experts on the field. And find the time to experiment, which is often the hard part.

Thank you so much Indu  for all your advice!