I was recently in India, travelling through the Bangalore airport and was approached by a gentleman named Akshay. After talking for a while he shared his story, I was touched and inspired with.
In his own words:
“I am from Hyderabad, India. My dad is a small businessman, and my mom is a housewife. I had a very open and nice relationship with them.
But when it came to choosing my career they bowed down to social pressure and I just followed them. Like most of the students, I was also asked to become an Engineer. But neither my grades supported me nor the result of engineering entrance exam.
I had performed poorly in high school, and intermediate exams and the result of engineering entrance exams wasn’t any better, so I got admission in a small time Engineering College.
I took up Computer Science branch as people said it has “Scope” in the job market.
Engineering wasn’t my first choice, as it was forced onto me. The classes didn’t interest me, and I started bunking classes and spending time on the internet for any other career options which interest me. I was kind of a shy and lonely guy as I was bullied in school and had no friends. But Engineering gave me friends who were supportive and didn’t bother me for anything I was doing.
I had low grades in Engineering as I was a poor student academically because I wasn’t interested in it. However, I did complete my Engineering. Not for myself, as much as for my family and society.
But in the end, it all worked out great. My search for alternative career over the internet landed me at a free portal for online courses from world renowned universities called edX. The courses were OK but the university link like MIT, Harvard University and “Free of cost course” grabbed my eyeballs.
I immediately rolled in for ‘Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python’ by MIT. Somehow the more I got into it, the more I liked it, maybe because it was my choice. With time I found my passion for programming and I got confidence too.
Going forward I got so much into it I took “Introduction to Computer Science” offered by Harvard University and Engineering Software as a Service from UC Berkeley.
And one day I got a call from Microsoft; I was very nervous, but the interview went very smooth. I got the job in Microsoft; it was like a dream come true. My goal in life was to work in a big company, and it took me around two years since the time I started looking for it. So it doesn’t matter where you learn, but what you learn. If the learning is innovative, it is fun to do.”
As edX CEO and MIT professor, I was so inspired by this story; I wanted to share it with the world. Akshay’s story showcases the true power behind MOOCs [Massive Open Online Courses], free online courses; and highlights the edX mission to provide access to high-quality education to anyone, anywhere.