2016: A year gone by

Reflections on the past year

2016: A year gone by
Goodbye 2016

2016 started with high hopes. If you recall, at the end of 2015, I was looking for a summer internship and the search continued into the new year.

Will code for food

It was an arduous search. Moreover, college was also going on. The job search had to go on amongst the din of sleepless nights and last-minute submissions. After facing many rejections, there was light at the end of the tunnel. I landed an internship in BlackRock's Aladdin Product Group in a software engineering role. I was elated.


BlackRock is a financial asset manager headquartered in midtown Manhattan. I was placed in the shadow accounting division. Initially, I was a bit suspect as we know how financial institutions typically are. Nevertheless, BlackRock blew me away. It had a fantastic culture and I worked with some great people — some very smart people. It felt like a tech company with a dress code. I had an intellectually stimulating and personally rewarding experience over the summer.

Wrapping up school

Graduating from Columbia was an enriching experience. I will take this opportunity to say that one of the best classes I ever took was Natural Language Processing by Professor Dragomir Radev. Professor Radev, if you are reading this, thank you so much for an amazing class!

Outside of academics, 2016 was the year in which I undertook a lot of fun activities on campus. Serving as the Digital Media Chair for the Engineering Graduate Student Council was personally rewarding. I overhauled the entire web and social media presence for the council and dragged it into the 21st century. I also served on the Alumni Affairs and Career Development Committees and helped organize some of their events.

Another humbling experience gained was by sitting on the University Senate Subcommittee for Students with Disabilities. It was really an eye-opener to see students with a diverse range of disabilities being represented and was heartwarming to see them voice their concerns on a platform that matters.

Ladies and gentlemen…

2016 was the year when I (hopefully) started a public speaking career. Along with my friend Gaurav Ragtah, we gave two talks. The first one, entitled "From Resume to Revenue", was to our peers telling them about various tips and tricks to have a successful job hunt. The other one, entitled "Bit by Bit into the World of Bytes", was to high school students of New York City, encouraging them to take up a career in Computer Science. It was sponsored by Columbia Open Labs, a student group we were a part of, which motivates high school students to take up a career in the sciences. Watch the talk below:

Bit by Bit into the World of Bytes ft. Pratyush Nalam and Gaurav Ragtah

The end of school

And well, just like that, my last semester came to a close. Possibly my last degree in the short to medium term. What next? I have landed a software engineering role at Microsoft in Redmond, WA with their Cloud and Enterprise division. I am excited to be starting in this role — especially as Microsoft and Bill Gates were two entities I looked up to while growing up.


So, what am I looking forward to in 2017? Lot of things, in fact. It goes without saying that I want to do well at my first full time job — laying the foundations for years to come. Apart from that, I plan to be more frequent on this blog. There are some good topics I plan to write on. My two side projects need to be woken up from hibernation — a stressful last semester applied the brakes on them. And lastly, I plan to continue my learning. College might be over, but learning is a lifelong process, and it is one's best interests to keep it going.

2016 was a good year. Here's hoping for a great 2017! As always, see you soon in the next post!