Working at SDSLabs

This post has been cross posted from the official blog of sdslabs

If you have ever spoken to me in real life or follow me on twitter or are in my friend list in facebook or instagram or ….. you get the point, then you must have seen my posts related to a certain something known as SDSLabs. It’s been 11 months since I joined this student group in IITR and it has more or less become a part of my identity. Before I write anything more I should probably explain what is SDSLabs.

##A Student Group IITR has a very vibrant culture of student groups with there being a group for nearly everything, right from Robotics, Electronics to Philately and even Gardening! While not all of them are active and often give the feeling of having been started by few enthusiasts who have long since left and now no one is ready to carry it on, there are a few groups who are actively changing the scene in their field. SDSLabs is one of them. SDS (Software Development Section) is an official hobby section and anyone can be a member of this. SDSLabs is the core team that manages SDS apart from working on various projects in the software field (moving into hardware too now). I came to know about SDS through their open for all lecture series that they conducted in my first year. Then in November, 2011 they launched their intranet portal and that’s when I knew that I had to join this group.

##Recruitment Process SDSLabs’ recruitment process for first years started off in the second week of January. A two and half hours of written test and a nearly three hours of interview later I was in. I was one of the 13, out of nearly 200 people who had applied, to be chosen in the programmer category (Design being the other). The process was long and ardous but the end result has been wonderful. The last 11 months in SDSLabs have been amazing.

##What’s it like inside of SDSLabs The first thing that you realise is the level of service and infrastructure available inside the lab. A fingerprint scanner based entry, 42 inch TV, an enterprise level server, bean bags, AC, radiator are just a few among many other things available. Funds have never been a problem for us, courtesy IITR administration, with another server in the line and along with a Nexus 7 for android development. It’s more like a startup inside college with people even sleeping inside lab! Anyways, looking beyond things that you can buy with a Mastercard, the best part of the lab is the people in there. A conversation with a senior leaves you with wealth of knowledge each time unless, of course, it is a bakkar conversation. SDSLabs was the first place where I could talk about Hacker News without getting clueless looks. It was also the first place where when I complained about unnecessary clicks on a website people actually understood because it is in their system to create user friendly apps.

ManUtd vs ManCity

##Technology After joining lab I was introduced to git(version control system), redmine(project management system), php, js, ajax, sass, bash, jquery, node.js to name a few. Few people are also using ruby and scala. I have since fallen in love with git and wherever I can use vcs, I do. As a result, I have also fallen head over heels in love with Github, so much so that I queued up to avail their free student plan the moment I came to know about it (although nearly all my projects are in redmine and gitolite combo). I have also moved to using Ubuntu full time since. I have seen 11.10 and 12.04 come and go. I have become fearless when it comes to partition tables and experiments. And all this happened over the last 11 months along with the load of regular college and other extra-curricular activities. I have also met some absolutely brilliant people like Abhay Rana, Harshil Mathur, Shobhit Singh. They are so brilliant that I could probably end up writing separate blog posts for each one of them and even then I doubt I would be able to do justice to their brilliance! All in all, it’s safe to say that lab has become my home away from home with countless hours spent sitting on a bean bag with a laptop and arguing about the merits and demerits of various frameworks.

##The work The best part of SDSLabs is that you are free to come up with a project idea and work on it. The project does not have to be a web app as is the common misconception, it can be related to mobile development, linux development or even a windows 8 app. If you are interested in hardware+software solutions, then even that is possible. If you don’t have an idea you are most welcome to work on other projects. Any member can see the code of any project. Any member can contribute code to any project (something like github’s pull request). We also work on few official projects that are taken up by the lab. These include making the websites of IIT Roorkee’s technical festival and website for some international conference that is going to take to place in IITR. If official projects don’t interest you then you are under no obligation to be a part of them. Since this is not a job, there’s no check in time or check out time. The lab is opened whenever needed and remains open well into the night (sometimes people leave directly next day morning for breakfast!).

##The Fun Dine Out’s sponsored by seniors is part of the culture now. Alumnis of our group also give us huge Dominos treats now and then and when I say huge I mean huge (imagine three delivery boys coming from dominos just for your order!). We also have a few gaming sessions. ProTip: Stay away from abhshkdz. The group also goes for camping once every year. The 42’ TV is put to good use, trust us!

##Recruitments plug It’s December and come January, SDSLabs will start recruiting again. If you are a fresher in IITR and are interested in joining SDSLabs then the next few lines are for you.

  1. We don’t care which branch you are in. Out of the three people I named above only one was in CS. In my year there are only 2 in CS, out of the 13.
  2. We don’t care about how much programming you know right now as long as you can convince us that you can do it and you have the aptitude for it. I did not know programming when I applied.
  3. If you think that joining SDS is going to get you a high paying job in some software company 4 years later then please stay away. No I’m not saying SDS does not give an advantage (it does) but we don’t want people who only and only care about package.
  4. If you are a CS undergrad and are applying just because it is something in your field, please stay away! We want self motivated people.

About Shashank Mehta:

Heading product for RazorpayX, building the future of business banking. Early bird (#7) at @Razorpay. Forever hoarse throat thanks to ManUtd.

Follow me on twitter. I don't tweet a lot though. Bummer, right?