The Courteous Conquistador: Shaswat Rungta

Probably one of the most humble and inspiring senior NITR has ever seen, Shaswat Rungta, is known for his excellent debating skills, his calm and composed nature and a friendly demeanor. Hailing from a small town which was not even in the Google maps, he overturned destiny by establishing himself as one of the most ardent souls of NITR. He not only managed to prove his finesse by securing the president ship of the debating club (Clarion) and played an active role in the entrepreneurship club (E-Cell) but also ended up bagging a pre-placement offer in a big-shot company as Microsoft. NITR shall forever remember him as an excellent coder and as “the guy who took debating to the next level”. In a rendezvous with MM on a pleasant Friday evening, Shaswat Rungta revealed some stories about his life till now.

MM: Let’s go back to the beginnings. Tell us something about your life before NITR.

SR: I come from a small town named Chaibasa, in Jharkhand. I thereby did not have much to offer in terms of carrier prospects. I studied in the only CBSE school the town had, while the next one came up when I was in my 10th standard. There was a dearth of coaching facilities, and thereby, my preparations for the entrances were solely directed towards the self-study mode. 

As a child, I used to play a lot of pranks; but was fortunately, never caught as I managed to get pretty good grades. At times, I, in turn, was usually cornered and asked to provide testimonies against the mischief-mongers, which I tactfully refused to.

MM: How did you land up at NITR? Was Computer Science a matter of choice or compulsion?

SR: I was not quite into Computer Science till my 10th. In my higher secondary curriculum, I chose CS as my 5th subject, after which my predilection for the subject matter grew. So, while filling out my choice of seats in the AIEEE forms, I kept CS as my topmost priority. 

Now, talking about the institute, I did acquire a similar seat in NIT Jaipur as well. But, then emulating the distance factors, NIT Rourkela emerged as a better choice. Thus, computer science in NITR was a choice, rather than FATE for me.

MM: From an intern at IIIT Hyderabad, to that in Microsoft IT, you have had it all when it comes to bagging internships. Take us through your internship experiences.

SR: at the end of second year, I did an internship at IIIT Hyderabad, under Prof. Venkatesh Chaubela, who hands the virtual lab there. It was an initiative under the MHRD to provide labs to the various institutes that are deprived of it. You see, we have ample labs in our institutes for varied purposes, such as experimentation or studying some materials.  But there are some institutes that do not have such facilities. They can thereby utilize the services provided by our labs through an online procedure. They shall be given a time-slot and asked to co-ordinate with the concerned authorities to pursue their task. I was a developer intern for this venture, and my work was to develop a code that I was supposed to use as the lab developer. My internship lasted for 2 months, and I found the work culture at Hyderabad quite encouraging, with respect to project work.

 I did my internship in 3rd year at Hyderabad, in Microsoft IT under a campus offer. It was an eight weeks project on ‘foundry’. We developed apps like windows 8 desktop and mobile. Microsoft is a placid company. They do not rigorously scrutinize your errors; rather they promote you to do better next time.

MM: You are involved with numerous clubs in NITR and have taken very revolutionizing strides in some of them, tell us something about them.

SR: I had a tight schedule in my first year. We had continuous classes from 8:00am-5:15pm and then club activities continued till night. I was in a lot of clubs such as Clarion, E-Cell, Spawn, Chittrang, Fusion and in a technical club called Technophiles, which is no longer active. In Clarion, I worked as the technical Designer of Et Cetera (the monthly tabloid), and as a convener in the 3rd parliamentary debate, and finally attained the post of the President of the club. In E-Cell, I was the co-coordinator of NES(National Entrepreneurship Summit) for 2 years. I bagged the 2nd prize in the GES(Global Entrepreneurship Summit)too. For Chittrang, we also paint the Graffiti at SAC every year. 

MM: How has NITR transitioned in the three and a half years of your stay?

SR: I come from a reserved background where speaking to strangers was restricted. My days in NITR have enriched me invaluably by providing me an interactive and communicative platform.

I have witnessed many constructive transformations in the institute in terms of students as well as resources. Our juniors are more aware of things than we were, in a holistic point of view. Also, the change that has occurred in the institute in terms of infrastructure and facilities are also quite commendable. Though some might disagree, I feel that our institute has taken strides towards an estimable level of expansion with prospective ideas of a twin tower and separate buildings for each department.

MM: Share with us some of your memories that you would always cherish during your stay at NITR.

SR: I have an entire bunch of cherished memories of this institute, and there shall be no end to their recollections. I remember that we had to share rooms with 5 other people in our first year. I was the only non-oriya in the group and had no idea of their conversations which they had among themselves in pure oriya. Whenever someone cracked a joke, I used to nod my head pretending that I could make out their exchanges. This was a bad idea, as I, apparently, failed to fool them. My room-mate in 2nd year was a pretty fun guy and we had a jovial time together. At one time, he mistakenly locked the room while I was still outside. I had a class the next hour and was out of clothes. Fortunately, I managed to sneak inside someone else’s room, borrowed his clothes and thus saved myself.

MM: Since this is the final year of your journey in this institute, do you harbor any regrets within yourself over something that you wished you could have done?

SR: I do not regret my choices and actions, for I believe that there is a whole lot to learn from everything. However, I do have some regrets on not being able to fulfill my duties as the in charge of a project called INSTICO under E-Cell that was that was set up to promote free-lancing among the NITR junta. Due to my other involvements, I failed to execute my part as the in charge, which eventually led to the downfall of the project.

MM: If you were authorized to change something in NITR, what would you go for?

SR: I would like change the open elective culture here. If you ask a normal NITRian here, most of them won’t be happy with the open elective they are assigned to. Personally, I would see more subjects on the lines of creative arts into picture. Open electives like photography, or any musical instrument can be offered as an open elective.

Also,  as it goes with the consensus many students put off anything that goes around on either on the administration or faculty who are in charge of that particular thing. To put it in perspective, let’s talk about fests. If a fest goes well, it was a team effort and if it didn’t go well then it was the convener’s fault so that is a notion which should change.

MM: You have currently bagged a super-dream job in Microsoft. Do you plan to go with it or you have something else in your mind?

SR: Right now, all I can say is that I am quite RELIEVED at being able to grab this job. I would therefore, surely take it. Research is something that hasn’t inspired me much; I’m more like a person who can make stuff for which people can use. For sometime after I pass out, I’m going for the job. It’s good to have a paycheck to balance out your liabilities when you’re trying new things. I’m not thinking about higher studies right now, maybe a year or two down the line, I don’t know.

MM: Any message you want to give to your juniors.

“Look for the positive sides of things that would be the only thing which would keep you going. There’ll be time when situations won’t be in your favor and everything will go messy but do search for the silver lining, because it is always there. Learn from everything and everyone you meet. And, talk to people, that helps a lot. Never procrastinate in approaching someone, the more you learn extroversion, the more you will be able to achieve the good things that life has to offer.”