Software Developers Journey Podcast

#216 Shruti Kapoor wanted a home on the internet


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Shruti Kapoor 0:00
If you have an idea in mind that you either wanted to learn, or the problem that you have solved at work, see if you can present that. So start with something that you know or something that you want to learn and maybe submit a this talk to your local meetups. So, basically advice is start with your local meetup. Start with the topic that you want to learn, or have experience with. And then use a friend or a mentor to get advice from them. Don't do it by yourself. So get your support group with you on this journey.

Tim Bourguignon 0:34
Hello, and welcome to developer's journey, the podcast bringing you the making of stories of successful software developers to help you on your upcoming journey. I'm your host, Tim bourguignon. On this episode 216. I receive surely kapow should he is a staff software engineer in the Silicon Valley. She is passionate about helping the community, and she creates educational tutorials on JavaScript Graph QL and react. She is an international conference speaker, TC 39 delegate, whatever that is. I hope we'll talk about that. And Egghead instructor Shruti welcome victory.

Shruti Kapoor 1:17
Thank you so much for having me.

Tim Bourguignon 1:19
My pleasure. But before we come to your story, I want to thank the terrific listeners who support the show every month, you are keeping the dev journey lights up. If you would like to join this fine crew and help me spend more time on finding phenomenal guests, then editing audio tracks, please go to our website, Dev journey dot info and click on the Support me on Patreon button. Even the smallest contributions are giant steps toward a sustainable death journey. journey. Thank you. And now back to today's guests, which, as you know, the show exists to help the listeners understand what your story look like and imagine how to shape their own future. So as usual on the show, let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place to start off your destiny?

Shruti Kapoor 2:12
Yeah, I think the first time I experienced being a Dev was when I was in grade. Seven, I took my first actually I didn't take my dad enrolled me in my first html, css JavaScript course. And I was so furious because it felt so forced. But the first day I attended the class, they made me add like an HTML element to the page and it had like a marquee tags. And basically I put like, welcome to my website on my site. And it scrolled around, I was like, Oh, my God, this is amazing. I love this.

Tim Bourguignon 2:48
Do you have an idea why your dad enrolled you and for forced you to go to this class?

Shruti Kapoor 2:55
I think he just wanted me to be like, inclined towards computers. And check out what this programming is like. So thanks to him, I am here. But yeah, I was like so furious at him at that time was like, Why do you want me to code this like programming stuff? I don't even care about it. And then once I went there, I was like, Oh, my God, this is amazing. I love it. I can like make tech scroll on the website.

Tim Bourguignon 3:19
What was so appealing? Was it interacting with the computer telling the computer to to do something?

Shruti Kapoor 3:26
Yeah, like it was like making the computer do something that you want. And putting something substantial on a webpage. It kind of almost felt like I have this home on the internet. Even though it was on my local computer. Nothing was on the website. Nothing was on the server. But it's still felt like having like this little bit of home that I created on the internet, my little bit of creativity on the internet. And it felt really good to make the computer do something that I wanted to do. I was fascinated by it. But you know what, like, after that HTML CSS course, like I didn't really keep up with programming, I kind of left that kind of got out of touch. And I started taking like I got into my grade 11th and 12th, which is in India when you decide if you want to be like a medical field and or if you want to be like in the engineering field. So I knew like I wanted to be something I wanted to do something in computers but wasn't really sure all I had done was like this HTML CSS course it wasn't really clear. So I took engineering just because I did not want to do learn biology. So that was my inspiration of getting into engineering degree. I hated maths, but I was like, You know what, I don't hate maths as much as I hate biology. So as like engineering.

Tim Bourguignon 4:39
That's a reason it's good enough.

Shruti Kapoor 4:40
It was it was by the power of what I hate the most. And yeah, so like in grade. So I took I took that stream then and once I got into my first year of college, which is when we move to Canada, that's when I realized like we were introduced a little bit of programming in year one and that's when we had to decide if we wanted to do it. Then what kind of engineering we want to do. So I liked the course that I did, it was a C course. And I think the main reason I liked the course was the same reason that I got fascinated in grade, whatever that was grade eight, because I did the C course. And I was making this I don't even remember, like it was like a for loop or something. But basically, like I could print on the computer, my text 100 times, and I didn't have to write it 100 times, I was like, this is fascinating. You can make the computer do like all this arduous work that you'd rather do. So you make the computer do the hard work. So I was really fascinated by that. So that's how I got into like, I guess the C programming language. And when it was time to decide a computer, or when it was time to start an engineering. It was actually one of the deciding factor for my career because I was part of this institute or club called IEEE, which is an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. But basically what that club means is that a bunch of different students in the university, they get together and they organize like events, workshops, training materials, kind of like an engineering club, if you would. And I was so fascinated by that. And I wanted to stay in that. And I thought that if I wanted to stay in that club, I have to be an electrical engineer. So two hours before the deadline, when I was supposed to pick which engineering I was gonna take, I was deciding between engineering and computer. And then I called up a friend of mine, who was a he was a great mentor at the time. So I told him, I was like, You know what, I feel like, I want to be a computer engineer, but I want to be part of this club. So should I take electrical engineer, he was like, You shouldn't decide your career based on a club, you should pick that computer engineering.

Tim Bourguignon 6:43
Did you manage to stay in the club while being in computer?

Shruti Kapoor 6:46
I did. Yeah. So basically, like, Oh, my God, I think back about that moment. And I still think about like, if I had not asked that question, I would have been an electrical engineer today. And I don't know what my life would have turned out like, but I would have totally missed out on being a programmer, which I so enjoy today. And so that's how I got into computer engineering. So did like three more years of engineering in college, got out. While I was in my engineering college, my dad again, asked me to build a website for his business. He's like, Oh, you're, you know, you're doing a great job. And you can do this. I had no idea how to do a website. I had done it this HTML course, like I don't even know, like 10 years ago. And I was like, oh, okay, I can make something I know how can we do a tutorial, I can make something. And at that time, WordPress was the common thing. I mean, just a common thing. But to build a easy website, WordPress is the way to go. So I whipped him up a WordPress site, and I bought him a domain bought him his hosting, and actually, like, had like this place on the internet where my dad could host his website. And I felt super proud about myself. I was like, This is amazing. This brings me back childhood memories of putting like a home on the internet. And I wanted to do more of that. So that was really fun. So I think the skills that I learned at that time was like WordPress, CSS, well, not so much JavaScript. I'd actually not touched our script for a long time since then. But yeah, like, those are the skills I learned at the time. And I thought, You know what, like, if I can make a quick website for my dad in like two weeks, I could probably help other people as well. So I wonder how many other small businesses could use that. So I like went up on Craigslist to see if anybody else is hiring for WordPress engineers, or like WordPress developers. And I saw like, so many people were looking for, like small websites. So they were postings on Craigslist being like, I just want to put up my site. I am like Baker, or whatever. And so I reached out to them. I showed them the website that I had built. And I said that I could do it for them for cheap. And they said, sure thing. So I whipped up the second website I'd ever made in two weeks of time, we using WordPress as well, using a default theme. I think one of the things and I told them like I'll customize it for them. And I did. And so that's when I started considering it seriously. And I thought this could actually be a career like I could do this more often. And I could actually make money out of it. I think I was in my third year at that time of engineering school.

Tim Bourguignon 9:13
You were in your third year of engineering school. And at that point, you say, now, it's starting to get serious now I couldn't have a career that Yeah, you were not

Shruti Kapoor 9:23
before? Yeah, that's a great question. So basically, like what we were learning in school was so different from what I was doing, like outside in the side project. So at school we were learning all these like core programming languages like Java and C++ and like building actual robot, and I was like, oh my god, I definitely don't know where I'm going with that. So but then when I did this WordPress thing, I was like, okay, that I can do like that I can make money off of and in third year, I think that's the time when we were like building I don't know like the hardware languages like VHDL and stuff. I did not understand it. Anything in school, it was so hard. And I remember like one time in my second year we were building I think it was a course where you had to build like a robot, basically metal build it program. It was an entire, like life cycle of building something physical and programming it. And I remember one of those days I was thinking, I was like, I don't think I'm made for this engineering. This is really, really hard. And I'm not understanding anything. I don't know which course it was, but it just made me feel so low in life. And I almost quit my engineering career in my second year PIAA. Like, in third year, when I when I got that when I made that website, I was like, okay, you know what, this is a little bit substantial. This seems like something I can do. This seems like my cup of tea. And I started doing more and more of that after I think after I did a few websites, I thought, let's make it a little bit more official. So I started a company it's called, it's very funny. It's called World Web Warriors, www, because you know, exactly. What web web Web Warriors. But anyway, so we basically targeted a target audience for small businesses around Vancouver area, which is where I used to live in Canada, and we would reach out to them, it was me and another friend. So we would reach out to them and ask them, if we could help them build their website, we had a really fast turnaround. So we'd get it done for them, like over a weekend, or over two weeks. So we had like, we were really fast. And so they really liked that. And we were doing it on a budget, which like we understood, nobody wants to spend like $10,000 for something that's really quite like something that let's say you're a baker or your tattoo shop, just want to put up your home up there. And so that's where I found my niche. That's where I found this idea. I did that for I don't know, like three years, after I graduated college, I was still doing this freelance thing, this web that this company thing, but you know what, it didn't generate enough business. For me, it wasn't enough steady income, like I had to do a lot of like finding the business closing the contract, not because there were just two people, I was doing all of the work myself and my co founder. So and I also felt like I was doing Drupal and WordPress and HTML and CSS. But I didn't really know what the industry standard was, if this is what everybody else in the company in the industry is using, or if this was even a recommended approach, so and it wasn't like enough income for me to kind of live off of it sustainably. So I thought, well, maybe let me find a job. And I started looking for jobs around in Vancouver area. The jobs for HTML developers always kind of involved around like these React and Angular frameworks. And I had no idea how to do them. So I couldn't really find a good fit there. But then the jobs for my core engineering courses that I learned like C like C++, Python, Java, those also required a little bit of experience. And I went through some of their interview process. But I didn't like any of those jobs, it didn't feel like I could connect to them, right. And so I found out across this job in a digital in a telecom company in Vancouver, it's called TELUS digital. And I found a role of automation engineer, it seemed like something that was an easy entry for me. So it was basically not a web developer job. But it was more like writing QA tests, and writing automation QA test. So you're actually using Ruby language. And I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to like, actually see what the digital experience looks like, or a telecom company, which is this big, but also learn from people and also get a kinda like food. And so my first job was actually not a computer engineer, but of an automation engineer. And I think like nine months into that job, I realized, like, I did not enjoy it as much as I enjoyed building websites. And when I saw my coworkers, who was who are developers, they were also building websites, I kind of wanted to do that. Like, I wanted to step up and learn something else, instead of doing automation engineering. So I reached out to the people, like the managers of that team, and I asked them if I could take some stories. I already have JavaScript experience, like I already have PHP experience. I already know, I have this background in computer engineering, so I can definitely learn it up. And they were very open to it. They were super supportive. So they gave me some time to learn JavaScript to learn Angular, and I got my first story. And after I finished that first story, and merge that pull requests, I was like, Okay, I found home. This is where I belong. This is what I want to do.

Tim Bourguignon 14:37
Find it again. Find it again.

Shruti Kapoor 14:39
Yes. Keep like going in all these parts, but keep ending back at the same place. And so that's how my developer journey started.

Tim Bourguignon 14:47
That is really cool. That's really cool. Looking at this QA, job automation engineer, as you call it, when you say that it was a coding job already. Just yeah, focus on automation.

Shruti Kapoor 14:59
Yes. Definitely. So it was like writing QA tests, you're also writing code you're writing like Ruby code. But this code is used to test, create test suites that basically fire up a website, make sure it's doing what it needs to do. It's testing the functionality. It's not building the features of the website, but rather testing the features of the website.

Tim Bourguignon 15:17
Sure, sure. I'm jumping ahead. But as this phase of testing very early on, helped you later on in your career.

Shruti Kapoor 15:25
Yeah, you know, like, when I was a automation tester, one of the biggest things that I used to do was test accessibility of the website, oftentimes, like accessibility comes as like this last thinking, right? And I will, because I'm writing for the, though, because I'm writing for the computer, I need these rel tags, these accessibility tags rather, right? So I need these tags. And sometimes we skip those as developers, right? We may not provide alt attributes. So even as writing like QA automation tests, I was finding that it was very hard to test them. And I figured out that basically, if the computer is having problems, people who are reading using computer devices, like screeners are also having problem. So that's an area where I found like, we often don't give enough attention. And I kind of became an accessibility advocate in my own company, like, we would send websites, and we will make sure that they are accessible. It was also required for US legally to be accessible. So the question is, like, how do we make it accessible? And I found that very interesting. And I think like that information, like that knowledge, I learned during that time, I still take on with me, even now, like whenever I'm building UI, I'm like, Okay, does it have the right attributes? Is it navigable by keyboard is a tablet, it doesn't have the proper boat focus. So I still take that information with me still take that knowledge with me.

Tim Bourguignon 16:41
I totally understand I've had the chance to to work with it with a gentleman who was visually impaired. And seeing how we use this screen reader was just mind blowing, he was able to find on a well formed page information, way, way faster than I was. Because he's just jumping from headline to headline, just dealing with the really big finding the headlines, you won't just digging into it to go into the sub headlines. So h1, h2, h3, and finding exactly the information he wants really fast. I just couldn't understand a word of what the screen reader was saying. But he was making sense of all of it, but for that just has to be well formed. And not using H tags. He's doomed. Yeah, that that was also mind blowing for me and really eye opening and saying, Okay, we really have to stick to the standards, take care of those accessibility options, and then somebody who's visually impaired can be on the web way better than we are. And this is really cool. And so yeah, since then, I'm paying attention to that as well.

Shruti Kapoor 17:38
That's amazing. Yeah.

Tim Bourguignon 17:39
So obviously, you stayed at this company for 25 years, right?

Shruti Kapoor 17:44
Yeah, sure.

Tim Bourguignon 17:48
What did you learn at this company besides React and Angular, and what motivated you at some point to to start a new adventure?

Shruti Kapoor 17:55
I think the biggest thing that I learned at this company was being confident enough in your abilities to like ship out code. Before I started this, well, actually, before I even got into my first job, just in being an entering school, I used to be so nervous about like being in the industry, because I would see, like Apple's website, and I was like, There's no way I can build that experience. Like, there is no way I have the skills or would have the skills to build that experience. But you know, like working in a company like TELUS digital, or like working in a big team, you realize that you're not shipping software by yourself, you're shipping it with a group of people, you have a team who's supporting you. So you may not have a certain skill, but there are other people on their team who are there to help you support you and help you gain that knowledge. I think that was really powerful. Like, that gave me a lot more confidence to be able to say like, Okay, I don't know this right now. But I can reach out to people who can help me get there. And I think that was a really big skill to learn. And our job, besides the technical skills, of course,

Tim Bourguignon 18:53
makes a lot of things. And that just rings one Bell, before that you were in your in a two person job. And so basically, always in contact with our customers, and really having the whole software production lifecycle from the requirement. elicitation really understanding what the customer wants, all the way to putting it to production and making sure it works. How did that work out when you entered a big team?

Shruti Kapoor 19:17
Yeah, it was amazing to see. So for example, like when I was doing this two person job like this two person team job, I was the UX designer, I was the visual designer, I would create a mock ups in Photoshop, and I will show that the client, get their feedback, review it, do it again. And then create the WordPress site or whichever site they want it to be push it out, and like after it's pushed out, like do QA testing, but also like maintain it as it goes forward. And all of this is a job of like a whole like five person team in a company. Right? And so once I got onto our dev team, I was so amazed to see that there is different people for UX designers and there's different people for visual designers, and there's curator testers who are like focused on exactly making sure that the website is running, why? Well, and then there's a product owner who stick making sure that the product is looking good. So I was like, Okay, this is amazing. This blows my mind how many people are involved behind making a product? It's amazing. And that's one of the things I wanted to learn, like in a two by two people company, you really are wearing all of these hats. But when I joined this big team, I was like, This is amazing to see so many people with so many different skill sets focusing on single part of the spectrum.

Tim Bourguignon 20:32
It's a loaded question. But did you feel boxed in into one role and not able to do the rest of still while doing your job?

Shruti Kapoor 20:42
You know, I kind of did like I was, I think I remember like, talking to my UX designer and asking them like, why are we doing it this way? Why don't we do it like that way? Like, I think it was a CTA button or something. And when I asked him that question, they were like, so we have like heat maps. And we have talked to our customers. And it seems like they look at this part of the screen better than this part of the screen. And I was like, what there is science behind this? This is not just like, you know, this looks good to me. And let's just do it. There's actually science behind this. It was so fascinating.

Tim Bourguignon 21:17
I believe, yeah. When you see for the first time people doing it, and making air quotes, professionally, and you've been doing it, so that it works. But yeah, people doing it, because they know it's right. Whoa, you've been doing a lot of things, right? Just from my gut feeling. Exactly. Somebody do it, right? Because it knows, right? That's a whole different level.

Shruti Kapoor 21:40
Exactly. So you mean to say you have data behind this data?

Tim Bourguignon 21:45
That's very cool. Did you move away from this company at some point?

Shruti Kapoor 21:49
Oh, yeah, like so this, I worked at this company for three years. And at this point, like I wanted to try out working in Silicon Valley, I've always wanted to work in Silicon Valley. And at the three year mark, I was thinking of this would be a good time to move, because I also met my now husband, then boyfriend at the time, who used to live in or who is living in Silicon Valley and used to live in Silicon Valley at the time. So it's kind of like a catalyst reaction. So my boyfriend was there. And I have wanted to live in Silicon Valley for a long time. It was three years working in that job. So I thought it would be a good time to like, try out something new. So I moved after working in that company for three years, and I've been in Silicon Valley for five years now. And I really enjoy this. I love being here. It feels like such a nice vibe. It just it feels so like work. It always feels like work mode here. I don't know if that's like always a good thing. But I'm glad I made that decision.

Tim Bourguignon 22:45
If it fits your personality, and then how did you did you make that move? Did you search for job first and then at some point, have the assurance with big air quotes again, that you will find something and then move on? Or did you just throw everything away and say, Screw it, I'm going there. And I'll go to find a job. How did you process this? Little bit of both? Alright.

Shruti Kapoor 23:07
So like in April, I decided, okay, I want to move to Silicon Valley. Let's do it. And I started job hunting. I think LinkedIn was my primary job, primary job agency I was looking at but yeah, so like I found I found a job, they gave me an offer. I was very excited. I put in my notice and the day that it was supposed to be my last day at TELUS digital, which was my previous company, the company rescinded their offer. And basically, I was supposed to get on a plane next week, the week after and I had no job in hand, but I was like, It's okay, I'll figure it out. So once I landed here, I started looking for job again. And LinkedIn again was the main place I was looking for jobs and thankfully within a month of preparations and interviewing, I was able to find my next job in Silicon Valley. So thankfully, it wasn't as bad I think I was pretty lucky during that time. But yeah, like I did have an assurance then the assurance went away

Tim Bourguignon 24:05
how was it visa wise for you the so is it easier or some some connection between Canada and the US so that you can move freely or yeah so

Shruti Kapoor 24:13
Canada and US are like if you're going for work then you have a TN Visa which is like very easily available so once I found the job I went back and got my TN Visa but yeah, that's that's basically all this means. You just basically walk up to the border show your offer letter, make sure that it looks good and then you get you get a TN Visa.

Tim Bourguignon 24:32
Okay, my only experience with Visa in the US was when I was a student at the end of my studies and when to finish my my end of studies internship, kind of a it was a nightmare. Visa between Europe and USA took month and thankfully the company I was working for really helped in the process. So think good for you.

Shruti Kapoor 24:55
Yeah, I think I was definitely very lucky. The visa thing worked out And I was able to find a job soon enough.

Tim Bourguignon 25:03
Yeah. Okay, and how was it as a job as amazing as the previous one, a team was with professionals. So we knew data and how to make it are that great? How was it?

Tim Bourguignon 25:15
I think I think if I have to pick up between my previous job in Canada versus this job, I would have picked their previous job. Just because I liked the people there a lot more because I had made all these friendships over the last three years. So I really missed that when once I moved to Silicon Valley, I kind of missed that. friendships that I had created. I think in this new company, what I really liked was I got to work both on Angular and react at the same time. And I also got to work on this really interesting problem where they had Angular, where the application was basically all Angular. And they wanted to introduce new components in React. And so that was a very interesting follow on that not a lot of people were dealing with at the time. And so kind of like covering uncovering how to do that was very interesting work. So I did enjoy working there a lot as well.

Tim Bourguignon 26:55
Okay, okay. Were you part of the community? Again, air quotes already at that time? Or was it not there in your life yet?

Shruti Kapoor 27:05
I think I was. So at that time, I was beginning to see that the community in Silicon Valley is so strong. I never kind of seen that. And in Vancouver, we do have some meetups and all, but it's not as big as it is in Silicon Valley. So I when once I entered the job, I saw that there was a lot of conferences happening, I attended a few conferences, as well. So I think that was when I realized like, this is something that I want to do. Maybe I want to like speak up at a conference at some point in my life, that would be a big goal. I didn't realize that that would happen in the same year, which I was super thankful to. But basically, I went to like this one Google Developer meetup organized by a community by a community organizer here in Silicon Valley, I was really amazed by all of the talks. And I think one of the biggest thing that I realized in that conference was that, you know, like, it always felt to me like you have to be this expert. And you have to talk about this, like, very hard stuff in your conference, Doc. But the people who were who got up on the stage basically talked about like, simple stuff, like five new things in ESX, as simple as that. But the way they explained it, they resonated with all of the art like most of the audience. And I think that's what makes it a very powerful talk. And that's what I was really amazed to find like, you don't have to talk about like this very hard topic or like, you don't have to be an expert, you can just talk about something simple, but yet your talk and resonate with so many people in the audience. And so I was like, You know what, I want to do this, at some point, maybe like three years down the lane, I want to be a conference speaker. Little did I know, a few months down the lane, I would actually be speaking at a really huge conference called Graph QL. Summit. But yeah, like that's the job that I started to like, see what's in Silicon Valley. It was kind of like in the heart of San Francisco. So also very easily accessible as well.

Tim Bourguignon 28:56
Tell us that story, if you if you will, how you ended up speaking of Graph QL Summit.

Shruti Kapoor 29:01
Yeah. Okay. So I went to this car to this Google Developer meetup. And by that time, like, I kind of wanted to share my experience of becoming a software developer in the Silicon Valley. So I wrote a blog post on how to be a silicon, how to be a software engineer and like how to find your first Silicon Valley job. I think that was probably my first blog post that I ever wrote. Then I wrote another blog post. I can't remember on what but some JavaScript concept like I think it was explaining promises or something. And so so there's Google Developer Community Meetup. And there was a contest there that if you tweet a lot, then you get like a Google prize. I think it was like a Google Home Mini. And I was like, the loudest person in the audience. I was tweeting, I was taking photos. I was so excited, because, you know, it was my first conference. Basically, I was so excited. And so when they announced the winners, I was one of the winners. And so I think that's how like they kind of took notice of me, I guess, but I was really thankful to the person who reached out to me honey name is Tracey Lee. After the conference, she reached out to me, I think she might have seen my blogs, I don't even know. But she reached out and asked me like, Would you be interested in doing a talk at our next meetup? I was like, Oh, my God, oh, my god, is this my manifestation in the university is coming true. Like I wanted this to happen. And it's happening. So I was like, Absolutely, I would love that. But I have no experience speaking, I don't know what to talk about. So she said, why don't you just talk about anything that you want to learn or any Google related technology or anything web and at that time, progressive web apps was something that I wanted to kind of learn? So I was like, Okay, I'll take some time learn about progressive web apps and talk about that. What do you think she was like? Yeah, that's perfect. So I took like two months to understand progressive web apps. And the first call or talk that I gave was, in my meetup. At Google's campus, it was so amazing to go there as a speaker, and I gave a talk on what is PWA, progressive web apps and how to use them how to create one. Basically, it was kind of like a 101 of progressive web apps, something super simple, but something that I had never ever used. So that's how I got into my first conference, my first speaking engagement. And after that, I really liked that, like, that was amazing experience. I was so shaking on the stage, like once I walked up, I was almost thinking I should like, just cancel this, because I was so nervous. But after I got off the stage, I was like, Alright, let's do this. Again, this is

Tim Bourguignon 31:30
what happens right after the event, you sign up for the next and exactly read it. But it's done. You're signed up? No,

Shruti Kapoor 31:38
exactly. Yeah, I was so happy. And so then I had quit my job at the previous company, like pick system, I quit my job there. And I had moved on to PayPal. So by that time, I was already working at PayPal. And a few months down the line, like I started to work with Graph QL, at PayPal, and I realized, like one of the areas where not a lot of talks were given was like using state management with Graph QL. And that was something that I was working on at PayPal, and I had a lot of trouble with it. I did not understand a lot. And I was like maybe other people are facing the same problem. So I wanted to pitch that idea to the conference. So Apollo actually organizes Graph QL summit in Silicon Valley. And I submitted a CFP, I was like sure that they wouldn't pick me. But they did. I was very thankful. And I talked about like, I basically talked about the problem that I was solving at work, which is like how to use state management in a Graph QL app. That was my first actual conference talk, I think there were like, I don't know, 500 people in the audience, I got up on the stage talked about how we solved Graph QL, I was shaking on the stage. Again, I will My hands were like this whenever I was trying to move my keyboard. But once I got off the stage, I was like, this was cool. I think I can do it. Again,

Tim Bourguignon 32:56
you get some feedback about this talk about how you did state management with Graph QL.

Shruti Kapoor 33:01
I actually did not get feedback from the audience. But I reached out to some of my mentors who were in the audience for feedback. They gave me some really valuable feedback and advice. And yeah, like I use that feedback to incrementally improve. I think I'm still improving my talks and my speaking behavior on the stage. But yeah, like, getting up on the stage, the first time is the hardest. And and since then, it just gets easier and easier, does it? I think so.

Tim Bourguignon 33:32
Okay, I'm still shaking each time. Even though I have almost 100 talks behind me. Every time it's just stage fright. And I know I'm going to do good, but I'm scared nonetheless. And actually, the talks where I wasn't scared or not as scared. Were the ones that didn't go so well. Oh, which is very, very weird. But

Shruti Kapoor 33:54
you know, I still do get stage fright. I definitely do. I think I'm not shaking anymore. But before the talk, I'm like, Why did I sign up for this? Should I do this? Should I delay this? I definitely still have the stage fright. It gets easier after every talk. But I don't know if it ever goes away.

Tim Bourguignon 34:12
But at least you know, it's coming. So you're not scared of what's happening. You know, it's just yeah, that's normal. Yeah, it's gotta go better.

Shruti Kapoor 34:21
Yeah, you know, once you get up on the stage, it's gonna be better.

Tim Bourguignon 34:25
So did you the kinds of talks you give changed over the years,

Shruti Kapoor 34:30
they mostly have been about problems that I've solved at work. I think over the last two to three years, I've started giving, giving a lot more unrelated to my work talks. So recently, I gave a talk about React 18 The newest updates and how to use them, which had nothing to do with things that I do at work. So lately, it has been a lot more about what I'm finding interesting in the in the tech space. So it has been a lot more so it kind of like moved from Something that I was doing at work to something that I enjoy diving into a lot of that stuff, for example, with Graph QL, as well as something that I am just doing on my own time on the side project, I'm just talking about it.

Tim Bourguignon 35:14
Nobody's listening, is it an excuse to learn thing?

Shruti Kapoor 35:18
Oh, definitely, definitely. I think like there's a phrase for it like, like conference driven learning? And I think it is, it's Oh, my God, like, when you have that pressure on you to like, deliver something good. It works very well.

Tim Bourguignon 35:31
Yeah, we all have 25 or 2500 pet projects. And at some point, somebody has to prioritize. And so if you submit for talk somewhere, and it gets picked, then it's prioritize. Know exactly, you have to pick?

Shruti Kapoor 35:48
Exactly. And you have to make it look nice. So you have to polish it up. And you have to make sure there's no bugs, because people will talk about it.

Tim Bourguignon 35:57
On Twitter, it would be very,

Shruti Kapoor 36:00
exactly. So yeah, no, different hubs.

Tim Bourguignon 36:04
So how was the COVID phase for you with probably zero talks, or almost close to zero talks?

Shruti Kapoor 36:11
You know, I actually give a lot of digital talk or like virtual talks during the COVID. Yeah, and one thing I realized is like, virtual talks is not as good as in person talks, you don't have the same feedback, you're basically talking to your boring screen and pretending like anybody is listening to you, you don't know Maybe there's literally nobody on the other side. But it's, it's not as fun like it's, I think it's, it's a little easier to do because you have notes by our side. So you can just like look at them when you forget something or when you're recording it, but you don't get to see the audience faces. And that's what I missed the most. I don't think like virtual docs can be placed in person docs.

Tim Bourguignon 36:49
I totally agree with that. I when I started talking, I always search for somebody in the front row. And that's going to be my buddy for the whole time. Exactly. And I'm going to talk to that person looking at the whole room, but at the end of every sentence going back to them. And look exactly. Are they still there? Are they still following? Those look puzzled? Was it maybe not as clear as it should have been, and et cetera? I really read talking with this person. And when you're when you're when I'm in my in my office right now in my basement, with nobody around? And just talking to my camera? This feels so weird. You don't have any feedback. You don't know if the guy if that buddy in the front row is following or if he's asleep already. Now it feels a weird.

Shruti Kapoor 37:30
Connection is active, you don't know. Dropped off?

Tim Bourguignon 37:34
Exactly. And you have you. You don't see also there's this light bulb moment when when their eyes go wide. Oh, that's what he meant. And now it's not that good, not as good. Maybe I should I should line up my kids here and talk to them. They won't understand anything that's too small. But you're a couple years maybe. Yeah. So you have some more talks planned for the future, still things you want to learn and already submitted. Maybe

Shruti Kapoor 38:06
I have one talk that I'm really looking forward to. It's actually in London, and I'm really excited to fly to London. But this talk is going to be about the concurrent features in React 18. And how you can take your app and see if there's any problems in there, especially like with heavy rendering, network performances, and see if you can put react 18 to use there and see which features of reactive 18 You can use. So basically, the idea is you take your existing app, make it more performant by using a React Native feature. I'm excetera.

Tim Bourguignon 38:38
I can I can tell if you are you talked a bit about that about it already. But let's let's move on a little bit more picture somebody who hasn't given a talk yet, who has been maybe to meet the opportu and has seen what's been happening, but didn't muster the courage to give a talk? What would be the one advice you could give them to say well try it out?

Shruti Kapoor 38:59
Yeah, great question. I think one of the biggest things we hold back ourselves from is we have this fear that the audience is there to judge us. And they are going to be very mean to us. But actually people in the audience wants you to succeed, and they are actually rooting for you. So what my advice would be is if you have an idea in mind that you either wanted to learn, or an idea that you are the problem that you have solved at work, see if you can present that. So start with something that you know or something that you want to learn and maybe submit a this talk to your local meetups. And these are great place to start because they're always looking for speakers. The number of people who attend these meetups is usually small. So it's a pretty safe space to start off and the speak. And what you can do is let's say that you have a few different ideas. You're not sure which one is the best one or if any of them are good. You can submit those ideas to the organizer of the meetup and they can give you feedback. And so take that Make an outline from there and see if somebody who has done some talks before or somebody you admire, your mentor can help you kind of revise that talk and practice that talk with you. So, basically, advice is start with your local meetup. Start with the topic that you want to learn or have experience with. And then use a friend or a mentor to get advice from them. Don't do it by yourself. So get your support group with you on this journey.

Tim Bourguignon 40:29
That is awesome. I just want to piggyback on that, because I have I heard one story one time and it just blew my mind. One acquaintance of mine was running the Elm meetup in London. And he said, one of the best talks they got was from a former, I think it was Java developer, who just as learned about elm and came to present his journey on learning elm, Elm is pretty much a niche or was a niche at that time. And so the attendees of the meetup were very experienced with them. They were guys who loved it from the get go and really had already months or years under their belt, and somebody came to give basically am one on one. And they were all there to see what is it like to experience Elon for the first time. And it was one of the of the best talks they had, because everybody was so excited to hear this. And so it's for me the the the the example of, I would have assumed am one on one in a meetup where everybody's already experienced, nobody will care. And it's exactly the opposite.

Shruti Kapoor 41:32
I love. That's amazing. That's a great story to hear.

Tim Bourguignon 41:35
They really wanted him to succeed. And so that's exactly what he said, I love it.

Shruti Kapoor 41:40
Yeah. And you know, some like, that's a very great advice, because somebody like that has a very fresh perspective on Elm or any other technology that other people who are more experienced but do not have. So anybody in the audience if they are looking to give like their first one on one talk, it's a great topic at all times.

Tim Bourguignon 41:59
Absolutely. And one more thing as well, it's not your responsibility to decide if it's the right talk for this conference or not. Absolutely, there's a committee or their organizers for that. So you just submit. And if they think it fits in the program in the build up, they're creating, and they will pick you. And maybe it will, I've organized a few conferences, and we always had some, okay, we're going to have this talk, which will be introductory. And then we're going to have that one which will go big deeper. And then we're going to have those two, which will go very deep on those two topics. And we really needed to build up. And we had to find a talk on one on one talk. And he was important to us. And so we went there how to find find somebody to do that. So that might be a bit counterintuitive, if you don't know, but yeah,

Shruti Kapoor 42:47
absolutely. And I think those are some talks that most people resonate with as well in the audience.

Tim Bourguignon 42:55
That is very true. I have seen I've seen that as well. So go for it. Absolutely. Go for it. Truly, it's been fantastic. Thank you very much for sharing this, this this journey starting in India, going to Canada, then Silicon Valley, and dwelling with the communities and advocating for more talks. It's really cool. Thank you very much. Thank you so

Shruti Kapoor 43:15
much. It has been my pleasure.

Tim Bourguignon 43:17
So where can we advise listeners to go and start a discussion with you?

Shruti Kapoor 43:21
Yeah, so if you want to reach out to me, send me a direct message on Twitter. My handle is Shruti Kapoor 08 My first name, last name and 08 You can also find blogs and articles that I write on similar topics react Graph QL, motivating yourself as a developer giving your first conference talk on my website at Shruti Kapoor dot dev dev as in dev journey. Yeah. Those are the two main avenues.

Tim Bourguignon 43:47
Awesome. And we'll add links to the show notes. So you don't have to search for that or write it down in a hurry. They will be there. Free. Thank you very, very much. Thank you so much do and this has been another episode of debits journey, and we see each other next week. Bye. Thanks a lot for tuning in. I hope you have enjoyed this week's episode. If you liked the show, please share rate and review. It helps more listeners discover those stories. You can find the links to all the platforms to show appears on our website, Dev journey dot info slash subscribe. Creating the show every week takes a lot of time, energy, and of course money. Would you please help me continue bringing out those inspiring stories every week by pledging a small monthly donation, you'll find our patreon link at Dev journey dot info slash donate. And finally don't hesitate to reach out and tell me how this week story is shaping your future. You can find me on Twitter at @timothep ti m o t h e p or per email info at Dev journey dot info. Talk to you soon.