How A 13-Year-Old School Dropout Went From Being A Cook To A Coder

Posted on July 18, 2016 in Inspiration

By Ishan Nadkarni:

This is the story of Akash, a school dropout who, in 2009, came to Mumbai from Manpur (a small village in Uttarakhand) at the tender age of 13, in search of opportunities.

Like any other rural teenager, new in Mumbai, he took time to adjust to the city’s chaos and hustle. He did odd jobs for money, for survival. From on-ground marketing for cigarette companies, to playing guitar at pubs to working at a call centre in Malad to finally, as destiny would beckon, a cook at the house of 4 IITB coders.

A couple of years ago, while getting dinner for us he asked Buxy (Housing Co-founder) as to what he was doing.

“Tu jo Facebook, whatsapp use karta hai na? Waise websites, apps pe coding hoti hai. Computer ko sikhaana padta hai. Hum woh karte hai” (You use Facebook, WhatsApp right? Such websites and apps are coded. We teach computers what to do. We program websites similar to these) was the answer.

Fascinated, he claimed, “Wow. Mujhe bhi karna hai!” (I want to code too!)

And thus began the 15-month long learning journey of daily night-outs, writing software. Akash’s life revolved around cooking food in the morning, cleaning up the house and sleeping for 6 hours during the day. Once we were back from office, he used to begin learning and writing codes on any of our free computers, through the night. Starting with front-end lectures on Coursera, he quickly picked up the basics. Within a year of focused learning he could do front-end, back-end and database handling.

His doubts started changing from being very basic, to algorithm specific, to now being Machine learning and NLP related.

Three of us chipped in to get him a MacBook Air soon after that. Now he’s our in-house genius (front-end and iOS coder). From a school dropout to cook to a software developer, Akash’s story is truly inspirational for all of us at ImpactRun.

He is busy coding our iOS app as I write this piece down. His advice for all, in six words, “Ek cheez pakdo. Aur ghuss jao” (Pick something you like. And commit yourself to it.)

Life is merely a set of experiences, where learning and opportunities are available, every moment. We merely have to grab on to some of them to create our own lives, one choice at a time.

Banner image source:  Joe Raedle/ Getty Images
Features image source: Ishan Nadkarni