My 10+ years journey of being a Frontend Engineer

My 10+ years journey of being a Frontend Engineer

Photo by Ferenc Almasi on Unsplash

I’m an Engineering graduate in Information Technology from Savitribai Phule Pune University, (then University of Pune) Maharashtra, India. The 4 years curriculum of Engineering course (2006-2010), hardly scratched the surface when it came to web development. Every student primarily cared either about Java or .Net.

I started my professional career with Persistent Systems Ltd. on 14th of July 2010 and I’ll always be grateful for that. When joined as a fresher (along with around 300 others) we weren’t given a choice to select what technology we would like to work on and I was asked to join a QA team as a Tester. I always wanted to be a Developer, so did not quite enjoy the work. I told this to my colleague, Pankaj Gangurde, over a Carom game and thanks to him, he literally pushed me to my Manager, Yogini Marathe’s cabin, to raise it. He said, he too wanted to be in Development but he kept mum and now is a QA lead. Thanks to Yogini, she first tried to convince me and then straight away called HR Head and simply said, “I don’t want someone in my team who doesn’t enjoy what he is doing.”.

I was immediately moved to a different project as a Java Developer to join Prachi Sharma. She was kind enough to explain me very calmly when I had once mistakenly committed code to SVN repo. Prachi, you would be very happy to know that was my first and only mistake until now when it comes to adding code to repository. (Thanks to Git 😀) After a month or so she liked the progress I had made and I still remember her lines, “Niranjan, tum bahut tez ho. Phat se samaj jate ho.” Thanks Prachi, for those kind words. I hope you know you are practically my first manager.

I was then moved to another project. Joined Harshavardhan Gokhale, the first person in my career to trust a naive like me. He gave me ample opportunities to lead and always backed me. A more of a friend than manager. Thank you Harsha. While in his team I was fortunate to meet a very sincere, punctual, honest (will run short of adjectives here 😃) Java expert, Vijay Pande. Vijay is the man of principles and habits. Every morning without fail he used to get the latest code from SVN, look at all the new commits and ask queries or suggest better ways of doing it to the respective team members. And he never missed it. That made him aware about anything and everything happening in the project. I loved the way he led the entire project and team. I spent around 5–6 months developing Jersey RESTful web services. Unknowingly, learnt a lot about professional world, very early in my career, mostly over tea breaks with Vijay. I was then asked to join the frontend team and thus began my Frontend journey.

Initially everything felt alien. The conversations like — “Just wrap it in a div and finish it off. Don’t spend much time on that small bug”, made no sense. It was all $ everywhere, yes, you got it right — jQuery. I started doubting myself. Soon my inner self advised me to keep Java aside and focus on JavaScript.

Started with the very basics of the language. Felt a bit comfortable. Every google search had a suffix — “mdn”. Came across a gem by Douglas Crockford. JavaScript: The Good Parts Most programming languages contain good and bad parts, but JavaScript has more than its share of the bad, having been…

Enjoyed it thoroughly. Made me more confident. Was in the phase of limerence with JavaScript. Started reading anything & everything on JavaScript I that came across. Played with many jQuery plugins and libraries. Was introduced to another gem — Backbone.js Backbone.js gives structure to web applications by providing models with key-value binding and custom events…

Enjoyed developing applications with it. Loved the library’s hard dependency Underscore.js Edit

Built a fun project, UnderscoreJS Template Editor — UTE Edit

Everything went well and I made quite a progress as a Frontend Engineer.

I can very clearly recollect, one fine morning over tea, Vijay (who was not part of the new team) said,

“Last week, one night you were quite late in office and very tensed.” “Was I?”, I asked scratching my head. “Yes, you were.” “May be. Yeah, there’s a lot happening.” “Remember. Don’t stretch yourself beyond a certain limit. You’ll break. If you break, you won’t enjoy. Start delegating.” “But I’m a the junior most member in the team. How do I delegate?” “Doesn’t matter. Don’t count the experience in years. You are already leading it. You can and should delegate. Make some time for yourself.”

That 5 minute conversation did change a lot of things. Thanks Vijay.

I then decided to move on & try something outside of Persistent Systems.

Appeared for few frontend interviews and immediately realised, I haven’t made much progress as a Frontend Engineer. What I know is a drop and what I don’t know is an ocean. Failed those interviews very badly. Was completely demotivated and frustrated. Felt like I’m no where. Neither I knew Java well nor Front end. Did self analysis. Realised I was quite good at JavaScript, considering my then 3+ years of experience but lacked very badly in HTML and CSS. Web development is not just about JavaScript, instead it is about HTML, CSS and JavaScript. It was time to pull up the socks again. Read about basics of HTML and CSS. Joined github and stackoverflow. Blogged about my understanding. After dedicated efforts of around couple of months, things changed. I was able to clear interviews quite easily.

Albeit, had to appear for many interviews. Sometimes, felt the work wasn’t interesting and sometime the compensation. Finally it was at Morgan Stanley, Mumbai where I was satisfied with both and they were about to offer me. But unfortunately they could not because there was an unexpected hiring freeze.

The interviews continued.

One of the interviews was at PubMatic. This one turned out to be the most interesting interview I had ever had. Was interviewed by Harshal Patil and Debjit Biswas. Fortunately they both liked me and I was offered. Without any hesitation I joined them. Within couple of weeks I realised I have landed in a very passionate UI Team. But unfortunately this only lasted for 6 months. In just 4 months I was contacted by Morgan Stanley. And —

Before I left PubMatic, no doubt I had to thank my UI Team in a special way .

Fortunately both the team (Jeswin Jose, Akhlesh Tiwari, Manish Pal and Ambika Sukla) and work at Morgan Stanley were amazing. Special thanks to Manish who went back to his archives to pull out my almost a year old profile and requested HR to contact me. I joined a core engineering group responsible for developing a UI component library based on AngularJs. I feel fortunate to have had an opportunity to work with Ambika. He trusted me in my early days and gave me an opportunity to lead some cool and complex stuff. All the conversation over tea and lunch breaks with Manish helped me change my perspectives towards some complex situations in life. I’m certain Jeswin and Akhlesh wouldn’t agree more. Thanks Manish, you might not be aware but you have helped me change the way I deal with some situations now. Thoroughly enjoyed working with the entire team. But priorities changed and I had to leave Mumbai and so MS.

This time, being in Morgan Stanley, made it much easier than last time. I feel lucky to find another amazing tech enthusiast Priyank Kapadia who knows how to genuinely care about his team. Joined him at Credit Suisse, Pune. I now deal with React, Redux, Ant Design, Playwright and much more. Fortunately, I’m still surrounded by equally passionate Frontend Engineers like Meher Ranjan, Sandip Gautam, Pratik Bhurewar, and Narayan Deshmukh and was able to spend some time with Rajeev Ranjan and Ganesh Ghule, they decided to move on.

It’s 10+ years but the love for JavaScript and web development is eternal.

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