Reflections, learnings ‘2022— “DSA is not just for Interviews “

SValakatte
4 min readJan 3, 2023

As we head into a new year, I am in reflection mode. I love to ask myself — What worked for me this year , so far? What should I change? How can I improve further? Of course — I may not be able to find the answers for everything and that’s OK ! Because, when you have a goal, its more important to measure the actual progress you’ve made rather than measuring against the goal itself. In this post, I would try to share some of my efforts towards personal/technical development and few learnings/gotchas etc.

“Wisdom doesn’t come from experience. It comes from reflecting on experience “ — Adam Grant

1. TED Talks and Podcasts :

Over the past few years, I did develop an obsession of listening to TED talks and podcasts, mainly focused on psychology, behavioral science. It all started with watching one or two forwarded videos on social media and it just continued even until today. I watch/listen to at least one talk/podcast daily. I strongly believe, this habit helped me to understand myself better and build unique perspectives about life.

Few of my favorites :

2. Data Structure & Algorithms

I write code in Perl / Python etc. on daily basis and conduct lots of peer code reviews as part of my job. I was motivated by a TED talk to pick new stuff to learn which I have never done before !

I picked (a) Learning DSA (b) Wine Bottle Painting (c) writing #WhatILearnt Series posts on LinkedIn. And that’s how my journey of learning/practicing DSA started.

I first started on Leetcode and slowly tried other platforms like AlgoExpert, GeeksForGeeks etc. Along with coding, I started posting regularly on LinkedIn about my learning progress. When many recruiters started approaching me for interviews, initially I was not sure about actually making the job change. I wanted to first explore and upgrade my skill set. So I took the opportunity of interviewing process as to “evaluate myself” and learning about different types of roles in other firms. After first few failures, I was able to crack coding interviews and it gave me a lot of confidence.

These interviews helped me understand gaps in my technical knowledge and inspired me to learn even deeper concepts. I focused a lot on learning Linux internals, how system works at the core level. They gave me testimonial of how I am learning and performing.

I think, DSA is NOT just for cracking coding interviews ; It definitely helped me to think hard about efficiency , trade-offs in coding. Also inspired me to explore all sort of modules available to improve productivity.

Of course, even after solving 500+ problems on LeetCode, I barely scratched the surface and lot to learn ! Main key is to keep short -term goals and watch the progress and readjust accordingly to be aligned with long term goals.

Wine Bottles I painted

Any new interest can turn into passion/daily routine. Now wine bottle painting activity has been added to my weekly routine and they became my part of home décor.

3.Working Hard != Making impact

Work hard, you will succeed” — has been the mantra passed on from generations to generations. But …Working hard and putting long hours , staying late don’t mean anything if results are not there!

So, what I realized is, its important to look at the ‘problem set’ differently whether its related to work/ personal stuff. I started with asking myself these questions, every time -
(i) What I am solving here?
(ii) How it can help or make a difference overall?
(iii) What resources I would need ? How can I optimize ?

In nutshell, we should measure the success based on outcomes and impact.

4. To be a leader, you need not to be a manger

Leadership is not just ‘people management’. Leader can exist in all levels of an organization; without any shiny titles!. Its all about caring about others.

I learnt that, even as an individual contributor in a team, one can create impact and lead by building team bonding and helping them grow.

As a new year resolution, I would like to focus on becoming a better leader !

Good luck Everyone and Thanks for reading my post :) Keep Learning; Keep Sharing …

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SValakatte

Passionate about problem solving; #VoraciousReader #MBTIEnthusiast #LovePsychology