Journey to Google

T Ashok Kumar

Parent JNV: JNV Ranga reddy, Telangana

Coaching location: JNV Bengaluru Urban (class of 2010)

IIT JEE 2013: AIR 63

Undergraduate college: IIT Bombay, Computer Science

Currently at Google,USA 


Tell us about your experience as a Dakshana scholar

When I joined Dakshana, I probably didn't know what engineering was and what IIT was. Once the training started, I got to know seniors who helped me clarify some questions. Few days passed and I could see that things are getting tougher day by day. I did not care much until the first practice test. One day while talking to seniors about the rank one needs to get, i was surprised. Only 10000 ranks out of 15 lakh applicants. If you see the number its 1 out of 200. This gave me some confidence. Around the same time, I started thinking and had questions popped in my mind. "Why is Dakshana spending money on me?", "This is someone's hard earned money and I am just benefiting out of it?". At that point I decided that I will do my best to get some rank in IIT-JEE. There was no clear path set before me. How to read? What books to refer? (Dakshana gave a lot of books! smiley. Finally, I made a decision to try out all the books and see which books help me solve problems in each practice test. As I tried out, I made a map of topic to book in my mind and that helped me during my revision time in second year. It was 2 years of intense training. Of course, there was no pressure from any one. But I totally enjoyed it. I loved solving more and more problems. Gaining familiarity with new problems and new ways to solve those problems helped me to clear IIT-JEE with a very good rank in the end.

Why did you accept the Dakshana scholarship?

First of all, I did not know much about IIT. I spoke to seniors about what this scholarship was all about. They told me about few coaching institutes in Hyderabad, which I have heard somewhere and explained that this coaching is very expensive. I knew that my parents could never afford to provide me this opportunity. Also, I thought I am not losing anything since I would have studied the same subjects in my parent JNV. The training came as a bonus. I prepared for the test for few days and could clear it.

What was it like to be so far away from home for 2 years during the program?

It was difficult for me. In those 2 years, I met my parents only 2 times. When I was in my parent JNV, my parents used to come and visit me once or twice a week. At one point, my housemaster complained that my parents come too often, leading to others' disappointment. I made so many calls in first couple of weeks from JNV Bengaluru Urban that I spent most of the pocket money my parents gave in first few weeks, but soon got busy in the preparation.

Tell us about your daily routine during the scholarship program?

The only routine during my preparation days was to, of course, prepare! Our chemistry sir told us one idea/tip during the beginning of the coaching period, "Rest means change of subject". I always kept that in mind. Whenever I had time, I always tried to solve problems. If there is a big queue in the dining hall or some other instance where you felt you could not go to books and were forced to stand still (you can easily find examples for this case), I made use of it by either revising the formulae or thinking about a problem or sometimes, even solve a whole math problem in mind.

Tell us about the new friendships you made at Dakshana?

I made amazing friends during my stay in JNVBU. I am in touch with most of them and meet them when I visit Hyderabad/Banglore/Pune. The best thing about the friendships you make at Dakshana is that each one of us had relatively similar background and hence we could bond easily. This similar background is both in terms of similarity in hardworking nature and family backgrounds. Each one of my friend was extremely supportive to me while providing immense competition simultaneously.

What was your classroom experience like?

I want to share one classroom experience that I still remember and laugh at myself when I remember it. One day our math lecturer asked us to solve a problem and I immediately noted the problem, bent down my head and was solving the problem. Once finished solving it, I shouted the answer while lifting my head up. To my surprise, most people were looking at me and laughing. At which point I realized that the lecturer wasn't there in the classroom. Thats how I was during most of my math classes. So deeply involved into solving as many problems as I can, even while teacher is giving a solution to some other problem which I already solved by the same method. Note that I just said "same method". If the lecturer was using a different method, I would have added it to my mental database as a new way to solve that problem.

How did Dakshana create a difference in your life?

I have thought about this many times, "what would have happened if Dakshana didn't exist?". I would call myself very very lucky that I found Dakshana. If Dakshana wasn't there or I did not become a Dakshana scholar, I would have studied in my JNV for 2 years and would have joined some local engineering college in Hyderabad. I am saying "some local college" instead of a "top local college" because I realized later that even these top state-level colleges need good training or you should be rich enough to buy a seat in those colleges. After that, I would have found a job in some small consulting company and would have settled in Hyderabad. Dakshana changed the entire track of how my life story should have happened. Instead of a local college, I got admission in IIT. Instead of a consulting company, I got a job from Google. Things changed altogether drastically. It totally changed the fate of my family, which will always be indebted to Dakshana.

What advice would you give someone who wishes to become a Dakshana Scholar?

Just prepare well for your board exams. And if you have time, ask your favorite senior (studying MPC) to explain some concepts from their syllabus. At least that's what I did to prepare for GDST (NDST)!

How are you involved with Dakshana as an alum?

As an alum, I started by giving mentoring sessions in JNV Hyderabad and I continue to do so, whenever I visit home. Then I conducted GDST in JNV Cuttack. This was a memorable experience since it was a big responsibility on a single person and every one treated me with respect :P I helped conducting GDST in JNV Pune couple of times. I also visited JNV Kottayam, JNV Banglore Urban to give mentoring/inspiring sessions to the Dakshana Scholars. I acted as college representative for DAAN at IIT Bombay.