I’d say the best thing about college for me was joining FOSS(Free and Open Source Software) Club. During the initial days of my Bachelor’s when we were all too excited about college and were opportunists, trying our hand at everything that we saw and heard, we noticed a few senior folks staying up late night everyday at college and coming back with a big smile on their face. I was too curious to know what they were up to and wanted to tag along with them too. The very next day I got to know about this FOSS club from its members and they encouraged me to join and give it a try too. They kept telling us how “awesome” their lab is and that alone made my imaginations go wild about the club. So then, I joined the very same day, we had an introduction session about the club and some technicalities which was taken by the club members themselves. They seemed to be ever joyful, continuing to claim about how “ awesome” their lab is. This moment, I desperately wanted to take a sneak peak inside their lab. That evening, I ran through every nook and corner of my college and miserably failed to spot that “awesome” lab. For the next one week, we continued to have the sessions at a boring lab and I kept wishing they would take us to the FOSS lab soon. That weekend, we were told that we can move to the FOSS lab from the next day onwards and I was very excited. Yes! The day has finally come when I can check out that “awesome” lab, I thought.
So right after my classes ended, the club members directed us to the FOSS lab, I went in and there, I was in a dilemma. The lab was just a regular computer lab, and I had no idea what was the “awesome” element in it. Just to confirm if I had come to the right place, I asked my seniors again, and yes, that was the lab after all. I continued to go the lab regularly until the very last day of my Bachelors, and slowly I realised that place was awesome after all. The awesomeness was not about the lab amenities, it was about the folks in there, and the atmosphere that they create.
Everyday from 5-9:30pm was the most productive time of the day. At times we’d go early as soon as our classes ended, and stay as late as possible. When I return back to my hostel, I have this feeling of having done something productive which gives me immense satisfaction and a big smile on my face.
A lot of learning happened in that lab. My learning curve accelerated and it changed my life for the better. The club not only helped me improve my skills, but also helped in shaping my personality and social skills. Before I joined the club, I used to be highly hesitant in talking to new faces. My club helped me get rid of that. Right in our first year, our mentor encouraged us to attend a technical conference- KDE Conf at Pune, India. We were all excited as we saw it as a fun outstation trip more than the conference. At the conference, on our interaction with the techies there, when they heard about us, the eager Open Source enthusiasts and about what we do at the club, they were all overwhelmed and volunteered to mentor us. That conference gave us a vast exposure and we came back with a lot of ideas and energy to code more. That was the first milestone in my career. Likewise, a plenty of milestones were set and accomplished, all thanks to my club. The level of dedication and passion my seniors put for the club and for their career inspired me to continue my journey of learning at the club and also motivated me to help my fellow members to succour them.
Now that I am working for Intel, India, it is only the skills that I acquired at the club which helps me progress in the corporate world. I’d suggest every Bachelor student to join the FOSS club. 🙂