The Code 'Masterchef': Dilip Raj Baral
A creative designer, a calm persona, and an out-of-the-box thinker are the words that best describe Dilip Raj Baral, a final year student of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. From being a struggling freshman like any other student admitted through DASA, to being the Technical Coordinator of Monday Morning, to bagging the coveted GSOC internship, he has achieved a lot with his unique capabilities. Team MM caught up with him to gain insight into his internship experience at GSOC and to know of his future plans. Read on to find more:
MM: What were your initial expectations when you joined NITR? How far have they been fulfilled?
DRB: The expectations were obviously higher as it was NIT Rourkela, one of the reputed institutes of India. For the most part, the expectations were fulfilled leaving a few unassuaged. I was kind of familiar with it and came to know about NITR beforehand from a senior of my school who was studying here and passed out last year.
MM: You bagged a prestigious internship at Google Summer of Code, how did you prepare yourself for that?
DRB: I didn’t exclusively prepare for GSoC. I already had experience in terms of web development and technology from early years of my schooling. I wrote my first program in 8th grade and later learnt about web development and related technologies. In my first year, after I had developed the website for Treasherlocked 1.0, a final year student and fellow club member told me that I should try for GSoC. He said it'd be a piece of cake for me. It was already late to apply in the first year and in the second year I was busy developing Monday Morning’s website. The third year was hectic too as I was the co-ordinator of Microsoft Campus Club and the fact that I had to prepare for internships. However, I applied for GSoC at the last moment after I had already bagged another internship. I didn’t have much expectations but I was selected as I had a good resume and a handful number of good projects were there under my name.
MM: What is the exact procedure to apply for GSoC?
DRB: Google usually invites applications from open source organizations on February. Organizations are then announced on March and that's around when student applications start. But one should stay tuned to https://summerofcode.withgoogle.com/ for the exact timeline. And it is also in the best interest of students to find out potential organizations and work with them at least a few months before the application date. The earlier, the better. Students select one or more projects under organizations of their choice and propose their implementation. Students are selected by Google based on their proposal.
For more details, visit:
While the page says GSoC is an independent developer activity, our institute accepts it as an internship. More detail about GSoC can be found here:
MM: How is the selection procedure carried out? Is it entirely based on the resume that one submits?
DRB: Actually it depends on the projects that one aspires for. There are usually around 150 organisations and each organisation has at least 4-5 projects, so it’s completely up to an individual, what kind of project he chooses to work for. It is expected that the candidate is familiar with the language and technology used by the projects he is applying for. If you have already worked on a similar project, it makes your application stronger.
MM: Did you apply and qualify for any other internship but decided to stick to it? If yes, why?
DRB: Just before I was selected in GSoC, I bagged an internship that was based in Mumbai. But obviously GSoC is better than those we can get in India. So I went ahead for it.
MM: Has there been any significant contribution from NITR which helped you in bagging this coveted internship?
DRB: Not really. The curriculum didn’t directly give me a hand in fetching this internship. Also, I could apply for GSoC independently without requiring any recommendation or letters from the institute. But GSoC is an online (work from home) internship and our T&P cell doesn’t allow such internships usually. I’m grateful that they considered GSoC as an exception.
MM: How was the experience of working as an intern at GSOC? Shed some light on the nature of work that you undertook.
DRB: I worked on an extension to CiviCRM, a popular open-source constituency relationship management system. The extension would integrate social networks like Facebook, Google and Twitter to one platform with a goal to boost the exposure of CiviCRM and to make it even more easier for people to connect.
Obviously it was an amazing experience. I got to interact with cool and experienced developers from around the globe and was mentored by them. I shared my ideas with them and acquired many new skills. I was working on a software that was already used by over 12000 non-profit organisations of the world. That was the best part of it. The stipend was the icing on the cake. Since the internship was online, I could work from anywhere. Hence, I travelled and managed to have an exotic vacation.
MM: Was it a paid internship? If yes, what was the amount of stipend?
DRB: Yes, it was a paid internship, and I was paid a sum of $5500.
MM: Apart from GSoC, have you worked as an intern previously during your sophomore or pre-final year? If yes, can you share your experience with us?
DRB: No, I didn’t have any internship beforehand. GSoC was my first internship.
MM: You have worked as the Technical Coordinator of Monday Morning in your pre-final year and also developed the Treasher-Locked website for Microsoft Campus club, how was this helpful in your professional career?
DRB: As my work in Monday Morning and Treasher-Locked was about web-development, so it was quite relevant to the job that I undertook during my internship. The experience of working as a team helped me a lot during my internship days.
MM: It is a general notion that the students admitted through DASA find it pretty difficult to cope up with the hectic academic syllabus of NITR. Was it the same with you? What do you think can be done to bring a change in the scenario?
DRB: It was pretty hectic and onerous in a broad sense. It started with jogging followed by classes from 8 AM to 5 PM. All the assignments and cumbersome syllabus were quite challenging for me as well. As students of India have appeared for JEE, they are quite familiar with the subjects and have proper prerequisite knowledge which helps them in grasping new concepts easily. So the professors rush through the topics which make it difficult for a DASA student to catch up. And since there are lots of subjects to learn, varying lab projects and assignments, we don’t get extra time to learn everything.
Yes, there is a definite gap in between the DASA students and the Indian students as the former lack the pre-requisite knowledge. There should be extra courses to clear the basics of DASA students, and this would surely help them understand the subjects quickly.
MM: What are your plans? Where do you see yourself after ten years from today?
DRB: Professionally speaking, I see myself pursuing software engineering. So ten years from now, I see myself working in a software engineering or software developing company.
MM: How are the prospectus of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering of NITR? Any changes that you wish to see to make it at par with the department of other reputed institutes?
DRB: As I don’t have much idea about other institutes, I can’t say much, but considering the present scenario of NITR, I feel that emphasis should be given to augment practical skills of the students, rather than only focus on theoretical knowledge. Also, I feel the curriculum and academic system could be a tad bit student friendly than it is.
MM: Any message that you would like to leave for our readers.
They should join a club or two and interact with their seniors and alumni. This would definitely help them be prepared for their future. They should try to make practical use of the knowledge that they acquire in classrooms. As our curriculum isn’t changing but the technology around us is getting updated regularly, so they should follow any technical blog to stay updated with the recent innovations. The institute can only help them with academics which isn't enough for them to stay updated. In addition to that, they should make best use of the four years and ensure that they have fun!