Learning by doing @ PromptCloud
Startups are a great place to work if you want to learn new things and gain lots of hands-on experience. I heard this numerous times from friends, seniors and mostly blogs. I also heard that startups pay less and have lot of risk involved. Putting more emphasis on the learning part (quite often I think irrationally), I decided to join PromptCloud in early November as software engineer. Two months have passed since, and I can say for a fact that most of the things I heard are true. But I don’t totally agree with risk factor that so many people are scared about. But considering kind of things I am doing, (and the new things I am getting exposed to) I don’t think there is much of a risk.
So, I graduated with a degree in CS from NIT Silchar and worked for a year at IITG
as a research assistant. And it was at IITG, I got interested in search engines. I had done web scraping previously and only learned to pronounce the word “Big data”. Googlebot and bingbot were the only web crawlers I knew about. Besides this finding rapidshare premium accounts using google custom search was mostly all the search engine experience I had. I have learnt a lot more about search engines since then and probably would have to write series of blogs to cover it all. So, I would rather limit myself to a brief of my experiences at PromptCloud.
Each day is a new day at PromptCloud, you can never predict what’s in store for you. Usual tasks range from bug fixing, reviewing, meeting client requests and the part that I love most: exploring new ideas. But, whatever the task may be, you are expected to write a lot of code; good and clean code. “Learning by doing” is PromptCloud’s training programme. This is something, which I always believed in. No matter how many books you went through or how many degrees you have, if you haven’t learned to play with code, you probably can’t do much. There is no 2-3 months of training programme as such, which is probably the way with all startups. But, no such programme can probably exist because things here, keep changing and evolving all the time. So, PromptCloud moves fast. But what catalyses the process is ruby. I had little experience with ruby before. I wrote some plugins during my summer internship at college, and thats mostly all the experience I had. But, I didn’t have any trouble understanding and writing code (may be, a little bit initially :P). I can’t imagine learning their system faster if it was in any other language. I have found ruby to be a very interesting language (and intriguing). Not to mention, the huge support that comes from the ruby development community, in the form of ruby gems. PromptCloud is also kind of a classic workplace. VIM is our IDE and nothing beats it. Surprisingly, this was a revelation for me. I had used VIM before but never really explored its features. In the first weeks when I saw Prashant working on VIM, I was literally open-mouthed. I would probably never shift to any other editor again. Other than that, there are numerous other open-source tools in use. To name a few: we use resque as our job queue, riak & voldemort as key value stores, god as the process monitoring framework, and there are a lot more. For more details on the components of our Big Data infrastructure, you can refer to Prashant’s talk here.
So far, it has been a positive start for me at PromptCloud. Each day I learn something new, improve my problem solving abilities and inch a step forward towards understanding the codebase. I wouldn’t say it has always been smooth. There have been times I struggled, times I felt overwhelmed; but always (and I mean it) with help of the team, I have managed to figure a way out. I feel, PromptCloud is a great place to work if you want to be a better Engineer, irrespective of whether you are experienced or a fresher.