It was the month of July and the third semester has just begun. We received an E-Mail regarding a competition “The Business Cipher” organized by Virtusa Corp. It was an analytics competition involving coding in Python. Initially I was not sure whether I should participate in the competition or not as I had no prior experience of coding in Python but when I started reading about its format I found that it was mandatory to complete an online course on basic Python for the participation in the coding round. I liked this rule of competition as it will drive me to go for the course and at least I will be able to gain some basic knowledge about Python even if I do not qualify for further rounds. So I started and diligently finished the entire course before deadline and qualified for online coding round.
The round was conducted in a secured environment and consisted of questions based on statistics and mathematics which were to be answered by coding in Python. I was able to answer most of the questions and subsequently I qualified for the grand finale of “The Business Cipher” which was held at Virtusa office in Chennai. The students, invited for the final round were from premier B-schools of India with the likes of IIMs, ISB and IIFT. We were provided the guest house on our arrival to Virtusa campus for next two days. The finale started with a corporate video on Virtusa followed by welcome address to the participants by senior leadership. Groups were formed with each consisting of 5 participants from different B-schools and the competition began. It had a 24 hours of hackathon type of format in which the groups were provided with a dataset on past Bitcoin prices and they had to predict the prices for the next two months on the basis of historical data. The evaluation criteria was RMSE. Additionally we had to prepare a presentation on data visualization, feature engineering, models used for prediction etc. within those 24 hours which was to be presented later to the judges.
These were intense and the toughest 24 hours of my life. The stakes were high and we were experiencing rapid change of emotions but at the end I was satisfied that I was able to deliver when it mattered the most. My groupmates were quite supportive throughout and we were able to achieve second best value of RMSE among all the groups. The judges really liked our work and patted our back. Finally the hard work paid off and I was awarded pre placement offer (PPO) from Virtusa.
In the end my biggest takeaway from this experience is to keep participating in the competitions whether big or small and never stop learning. It’s not all about winning as you get to learn many new things when you participate in a competition. It also provides you a platform for sharing of new knowledge and ideas among the people of different background, mindset and skills which can’t be achieved through classroom study. Further I also learnt not to be fearful and have preconceived notion about anything because initially I was skeptical about Python as I had never done coding prior to joining SCMHRD but after participating in the competition I gradually started learning and was finally able to ace it. So folks always have an open and clear mind and have a great appetite to learn. You never know when something you learnt can come in handy in tough times and help you in hitting the bull’s eye.