In an exclusive interview with The Business Standard, Nabila Ahmed discussed her journey from the beginning till she was hired by Google
Fresh graduates in the country are having a tough time as the current global crisis has doubled the competition in the job market.
However, every cloud has a silver lining and the story of Nabila Ahmed should inspire them to never give up and keep searching for their dream job.
A computer engineer graduate from North South University, Nabila is due to join Google as a software engineer in less than a month.
In an exclusive interview with The Business Standard, she discussed her journey to being hired by one of the most renowned technology companies in the world.
After completing her O and A Levels from Willes Little Flower School & College in 2010 and 2012, she studied Bachelors of Computer Science and Engineering at North South University.
"When I was a child, I never dreamt of having a particular career. In fact, I never really thought of myself as a bright student," Nabila said.
When she started preparing for her O Level, she noticed her penchant for logical and analytical subjects.
"My results began to improve when I started to understand the subject rather than memorise line by line," the Google engineer said.
She also said that her O and A Level results boosted her confidence to be immersed further in logical thinking.
"Hence, for university, I decided to pursue engineering. A friend convinced me that computer engineering would be a good career option," said Nabila.
"Only studying was not enough for me to get into Google. I was actively participating in competitive programming, which played a crucial role in me passing the interview."
"When I started my undergraduate classes at North South University, I joined a problem-solving community purely by chance. The community is now called NSU Problem Solvers," she said.
She credits her success in the Google interview to her learning from this community.
The bridge that connected Nabila to Google was her participation in creating algorithmic problems for a platform called HackerRank during her final year of university.
HackerRank used problems as interview questions and weekly online contests. "I got a lot of exposure as a problem creator and eventually my profile was noticed by recruiters and engineers from NewsCred, Microsoft, and finally Google," Nabila explained.
During the first interview with Google in December 2018, Nabila was rejected in the final round.
After six months, another Google recruiter contacted her asking if she would try again.
"At that time I was planning to move to London, so I delayed the interview and it took me some time to settle in a new country," she said.
Finally, this year in March, Nabila was interviewed by Google for the second time and she was hired.
"Since I was in the problem solving community, I saw many of my seniors from Bangladesh landing jobs in Google and other big companies. It made me think that it is not impossible if you work hard and remain dedicated," said Nabila while speaking about the factors behind her inspiration to dream bigger.
The conversation rolled onto Nabila's interview experience with Google. "I was thrilled by the opportunity. Like most big tech companies, Google is also very focused on problem solving and communication," Nabila reiterated.
"I was not too worried about problem solving, since I had been doing it for years. But I was slightly worried about communication. It is not easy to think out loud, so I started sitting for mock interviews on a platform named Pramp."
As the discussion shifted towards the technology sector of Bangladesh and potential career opportunities, Nabila said the world is becoming more dependent on the information technology.
"This will increase the chance for this sector in Bangladesh to flourish. With its growth, there will be career opportunities over time," she added.
Nabila advised students who are entering the job market to not just rely on mainstream education as learning surpasses the boundaries of an academic building.
"Each person is different, so a general syllabus probably would not work out for everyone. Figure out what interests you and study the topic. And if you do not find anything interesting, you need to explore more," she opined.
She strongly suggested, "If you are someone who loves to solve problems, give competitive programming a try. Nowadays, most universities, even schools and colleges, have clubs or communities where they promote activities based on it."
Many Bangladeshi parents believe that their children would not be able to pursue a good career by studying at local universities.
But Nabila is an exception and a success story. So, what did she have to say in this regard?
"I think in this era of internet, dedication and hard work matters more than school," she said.
Where does the bright mind see herself in the next few years, and what does she think the future holds for her?
"If you had asked me this question a few months ago, I would have said that I hope to see myself working in some big company in the next few years. Now that I will actually be joining a big company, I have not thought about my next goals yet," answered a confident Nabila.