Understanding technology can be overwhelming, especially when we are exposed to so many new jargons everyday, unaware of the pros and cons. What we need is an unbiased analysis of latest technologies through well-formed opinions and easily digestible non-technical language.
Rohit Yadav, our next pathbreaker, is a technology journalist who deciphers technology for others so that everyone can understand what is happening and how our world is changing with new technologies.
Rohit talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview Portal about gaining a wide perspective at college that helped him test the waters by dabbling with several things like IT, Entrepreneurship and Instrumentation Engineering before he uncovered his love for writing about technology.
For students, explore, take risks, be patient and never be satisfied until you firmly decide on what you want to do for the rest of your life !
Rohit, tell us about your background?
I was born and brought up in Rayagada, Odisha. As my father worked at JK Paper Mill, we lived in the township provided by the company. I read in the school – Lakshmipat Singhania Public School — which was built by the company within its township. I was never good at studies but was good at sports. I have won many prizes at school both in individual and team sport events. Of the many sports – Chess, Kabaddi, Musical Chairs, Short Put Throw, Football, Volleyball, Kho-Kho and more – I have won in almost every game. However, my achievements in chess is what I cherish the most. When I was in 8th grade, I stood 3rd in the entire school (11th and 12th science students were included in that competition). The competition was for students from 8th grade till the 12th grade. Our school had only science stream after 10th, so those students were included too. In 10th and 12th I stood first in the chess competition.
What did you do for graduation/post graduation?
After 10th, I pursued science in the same school/college as I wanted to become an Instrumentation Engineer. Back then I had no idea what it was, but as there was a demand for Instrumentation engineers at JK Paper Mill, employees used to send their children to pursue Instrumentation engineering after completing 12th grade. So, I was also interested in becoming one. And fortunately, I got admission in GIET, Gunupur, in the same stream. The college was 60 kms from where I lived. Again, in engineering I was not good at studies and barely managed to pass in my exams, but fortunately I completed my B.Tech in 4 years.
Engineering is one of the best things that happened to me. I was lucky to study with a wide range of perspective. At school, the strength of the class used to remain between 30 to 40 students. So, you are limited to a few perspectives, i.e. our grades will define our future. This was mostly because every other teacher used to say the same. But, in college, our batch had a thousand plus students from different parts of the country. And some were from nearby countries like Bhutan, Nepal, Sudan, and more.
Student strength was same for every year, i.e. 1000 plus. I was mesmerized witnessing students’ talent in different activities such as robotics, sports, and many more. Students were appreciated for their skills other than studies. But this appreciation was mostly among the students themselves. The college was more focused on studies. But since the college had good infrastructure, students could do different things apart from studies. In college, in the first 2 years, I used to mostly focus on playing table tennis and won the competitions in college. Besides, our team also won the inter-college competition when I was in my final year. I led the team of 5 and won the TT competition where more than 10 teams participated from different engineering colleges (colleges were from within Odisha).
Sports always had a huge impact in how I think and make decisions. Playing and winning different sports throughout my school and college has been my foundation for everything.
However, I have learnt many things from my teachers in college. Apart from our core curriculum, we had to attend classes that used to train us for placements. These classes were called pre-placement training. We were supposed to attend these classes from the first year itself. The classes were divided over a week and included Aptitude, English and Technical training. Teachers for these classes came from different parts of India and were not full-time teachers at our college. They had a huge impact on the way I think now. I didn’t learn what they taught in the classes, but I liked the way they think and perceived the world. It was more than just studies. One of the English PPT teachers didn’t focus on teaching English but how we should see our life. I was then convinced that life had more things than just getting good grades. Due to the PPT teachers’ suggestions, our college gave some books that were outside of our curriculum. This was in the 2nd year, I guess. One of the books was “You Can Win” by Shiv Khera. I read that book and it changed my perspective about life. It was very inspiring to read Shiv Khera’s journey and lessons he learned in his life. Since then I knew that I did not want to do what everyone did. I didn’t have to follow everyone. I could have my own interests and do whatever I liked. It was during that time that I lost interest in becoming an instrumentation engineer. The idea of becoming an instrumentation engineer was to follow others. That was not what I wanted to do. Then I shifted my focus towards IT careers. Since reading that book, I developed the habit of reading more books, and ended up reading “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. After reading this book, I again shifted my focus from becoming an IT professional to becoming an entrepreneur. By the time I was in my final year, I had lost my interest in becoming an employee. I wanted to start a venture.
As and when I used to get a different perspective, I used to change my decision and try something new. However, this approach has a disadvantage as well. I do not stick to one thing. I am a quick learner, which helped me in learning new sports and other IT skills. And not just learning, I used to be good at every sport I played. Although I don’t play these days, I still learn new things quickly.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and fascinating career?
After my graduation I joined an online entrepreneurship course. In that course I learned about business. I tried to make a product for which I had to learn Android development. The idea was to create an educational android application. But after a few months of working on it, my family asked me to take up a job since they could not see what I was trying to do. Before even completing the entrepreneurship course I was asked to join a company which was 60 kms from where I lived. It was an instrumentation engineer job. The company was Quess Corp and was into operations and maintenance. Quess Corp had taken the maintenance work of the Hindalco – an Aditya Birla Subsidiary. Quess Corp got the contract of mechanical and instrumentation work for Utkal Alumina International Limited, Tikiri. Although I was hired for instrumentation engineering, I was doing instrumentation planning department work. I was also working with a dashboard for analytics and enterprise resource planning platform. That is when I got interested in analytics and understood the potential of data.
However, I wanted to quit that job since I was not interested in working as an instrumentation engineer and couldn’t see myself as one. But convincing my family was difficult. I told them that I wanted to do higher studies and quit the job as soon as I completed 1 year without doing a notice period. I lost money because of that but I was never motivated by money and neither I am today.
I quit the job on 3rd Aug 2016, and since I had said to my family that I wanted to do higher studies, I registered for CAT and XAT although I was not really into it. But that gave me some time to rethink. I prepared for a little over two months and appeared for the exam in November. I knew preparing for two months was not enough for cracking and getting into IIMs, but I tried. Meanwhile when I was preparing for CAT, I developed an interest in writing. I was preparing for comprehensive English and liked the way one of BYJUS’ videos had described tricks to answer the questions only by reading 4 to 5 lines in the entire 6-8 paragraph long passages. I learned the types of writing and assimilated that it was an interesting thing to do. Until that moment I had thought that writing was just putting everything you want to say in words. But I was wrong. There are different types of writing and you must consider a lot of things before you can communicate effectively through writing.
Then, I wrote an article on Medium but got a little demotivated by the fact that it takes hours to write one article. Initially, I thought it would be a matter of 30 minutes or at max 1 hour to write a 600+ word article. I was in dismay that it took me that long and wondered who would care to read what I wrote. While I developed an interest in writing, I didn’t see that as a career.
Tell us about your career path
I worked at Silicon India for almost a year. Here I used to write about profiles of technology companies which were published in several magazines, CIOReview and others. Silicon India produces more than 30 types of magazine every month. But since the company was not into core technical writing, I wanted to switch to a company that was into pure technical writing.
I came across Analytics India Magazine and had requested them to be a guest writer – one of their initiatives where they allow others to publish their articles on latest technologies. I got a response from them to discuss the topic before writing but unfortunately during that time I was down with dengue. I took leave from Silicon India and went back home (Rayagada, Odisha) in July and was back in August after 3 weeks. On 5th Aug I was back to work and was about to complete my 1 year there on October 8th. I wanted to leave the company due to various reasons: the editorial management change in Feb – March in 2019, which was very drastic, and people started to get frustrated with inane rules they used to introduce every week. I wanted to resign on 8th August and do my notice period for two months and leave on 8th October 2019 (would have completed one year there). But, I changed my mind and resigned on 14th Aug Morning from my PG itself because the rules they had made it very difficult for me to continue further. It would have been difficult for me to complete two months of notice period because I was getting frustrated. And since I just recovered from Dengue, I needed some time off. I quit on 14th Aug. I didn’t do my notice period there as well.
I then took one and a half month off. However, when I was planning to leave Silicon India, I was thinking of working for Analytics India Magazine. But I was surprised that there were no openings in the company when I searched on various job portals. Then I sent connection requests to people who were working at Analytics India Magazine (AIM). A few people accepted my connection request on LinkedIn. Then I requested them to refer me to or provide me the HR email id so I could send my profile. Luckily, I got the email id and sent my profile. But I didn’t hear anything from HR. So, after waiting for few days, I felt that I may not have had the skills required for that company, and I started applying to other content writing jobs. Within a week I got two offers and had plans to join one of the companies on 3rd October. Meanwhile, I got a response from Analytics India Magazine and was called for an interview on 3rd October itself. I asked the company (where I was about to join) to postpone my joining for a day as I wanted to attend the interview of Analytics India Magazine. But the HR didn’t agree. So, I requested her to delay it a bit and keep the joining in the second half of the day. She agreed to that. My interview at AIM was scheduled at 11 AM and joining at another company at 2 PM on the same day. I was taking the risk of losing the offer that I already had in hand. I had already rejected another offer which had a better pay than the one I agreed to join. But I wanted to take that risk as I wanted to work for AIM. After the interview, I was offered the job and that’s how I ended up at AIM and am currently working there.
I write about a wide range of topics on all the latest technologies such as AR (Augmented Reality), AI (Artificial Intelligence), ML (Machine Learning), and more. You can read my stories here.
I am happy to be writing about core technology here. Technology journalism is a new wave in journalism. Since every company is becoming tech oriented as AI is being democratized, the need for tech journalism will grow. However, the problem is, journalists are not trained about technology, so they struggle to understand technology. Tech journalism is not being taught; one can become a tech journalist out of their own interest in technology. Various companies need tech content writers, but they do not find talent that can write about technology. If you closely watch, many in the mainstream media cover tech stories, but they are not in-depth. They just write about AI-based solutions, without knowing what’s the AI in it. Currently, there is a huge shortage of tech journalists.
I have mentors who helped me in making life decisions, but they are not the ones who guided me into tech journalism. It just happened.
In my job, I was having hands on experience with data analytics, so it was easy for me to understand technology. All I had to do was to improve my English. My editors and colleagues helped me in improving English.
I have got many scholarships from Udacity and continue to learn technology even today. I was ranked in the top 300 in AWS DeepRacer in the world in the month of October 2019.
How did you get your first break?
It was in December when I was waiting for my CAT results, that I came across data science, AI, and more while browsing. I knew about AI and data science since 2015, but this time it was different. I read a few articles and understood the potential of AI. Then I took a Python programming course from Udacity. I quickly learnt programming and was helping other students with their doubts. Now, I was into data science and not MBA. I enrolled in a data analytics course from Udacity and completed it in September 2017. Then I came to Bengaluru to search for a job in data analytics. I rented a PG in which one of my friends used to stay. I had talked to him about my plan to come to Bengaluru. A room in his PG was unoccupied, so I stayed there. It was in Marathahalli and I still continue to stay there.
I reached Bengaluru on September 30, 2018 and my friend informed me of an interview at Silicon India. The opening was for the role of a content writer. I told him that I was here for a position of a data analyst. He then convinced me to attend the interview saying that if I was selected, I could join and then search for data analytics jobs while working. On 1st October I went for the interview and attended the written test. The next day was a holiday in the company, so I got a call on 3rd and was said that I cleared the written test. The HR asked me to come for the interview on 4th. I went there, it was a technical writing job. And since I was a certified data analyst, I was able to answer their technical questions and got the job. And when I started working there, I once again developed an interest in writing and never searched for a data analyst job. So, my writing career started out of nowhere. It came as a surprise to me as well.
What were the challenges? How did you address them?
Challenge 1: The challenge was to learn writing. I knew technology but had to improve my writing skills. For this, Silicon India provided 2 months training. That helped me a lot.
Challenge 2: Writing opinion articles was another challenge. For this you need to understand various developments that are happening around various technologies. Reading daily trends/news about technology is very important. Today, I listen to podcasts along with reading tech articles, as well as follow influencers who provide their opinion and more, to stay abreast of the trends.
Where do you work now?
I work for Analytics India Magazine
I decipher technology for others so that everyone can understand what’s happening. I also help aspirants to make career decisions by writing how they should devise plans for a successful career in data science.
The most important skill is to know about technology. Unlike others who read and understand technplogy, I have hands-on experience. I could do it because I took various tech courses. Another skill is writing good English. That comes with practice and reading.
Another important aspect of writing tech articles is talking to tech leaders of different companies to know their opinion on various technologies and more.
With my writing I can make a difference in someone’s life. I get emails from people who appreciate my work. Aspirants email me for further guidance on making career decisions in the technology domain. Almost everyone wants to become a data scientist today, so helping them make decisions is what motivates me.
How does your work benefit the society?
Reading my articles, people get more informed about technology. They understand what AI can do and what it cannot. There are unrealistic expectations around AI. I try to burst that bubble.
Tell us an example of a specific memorable work you did that is very close to you!
There are many articles for which I got appreciation for. And It’s difficult for me to choose one. But, the article I wrote on Reinforcement Learning That Dreams was one of the nice articles where I read the research paper of a celebrated AI researcher and wrote it in a way that layman can understand it too.
Your advice to students based on your experience?
There are numerous options in life. Try to explore different things before sticking to one thing. I follow Gary Vee, he is an influencer. He says that too. People expect students to figure out what they want to do in life in their early twenties, which is not practical. How can you figure out what you want to do for the next 30-40 years in your life in your early twenties? Explore more things by trying out, don’t go with the masses.
Writing is the only job which I’m doing for more than a year. I worked as an instrumentation engineer for a year. I tried my hands at entrepreneurship for 4-5 months and data analytics for 8 months. But it was only writing that got me hooked. However, I still want to start a venture and become an entrepreneur, which I’m currently working on but cannot reveal it just yet.
While still keeping my writing job, I will continue to explore new areas until I get 30 years old and will decide what exactly I want to do.