Introducing a Young Women Entrepreneur
Every year there are about 2.5+million students graduating in Computer Science and other related to IT fields in India. And hardly 7 – 10% get into IT jobs, the rest – somehow try to fit into any job to meet their commitments, few move for higher studies, few prepare for Government jobs and etc. The reason we have very less percent of students getting through the IT fields is the lack of knowledge and also the lack of IT job openings. While students struggle to get into a good IT Company, a young girl built a Start-up to provide guidance in Computer Science for the under grads. I would like to introduce GirlScript Co-Founder, Anubha Maneshwar, a Computer Science 2017 Grad Student from Nagpur, India. I met Anubha in a Women Techmakers meet-up in 2016. She had the curiosity in knowing how the technology and the IT industry works. She had therefore made sure that she has a network of most of the people she met on the event to help her improve her skills and knowledge. The following story will let you know how she has come up with GirlScript.
How did you get into the field of Programming and why is it interesting?
I was clueless in first year of Engineering. Actually I failed to clear IIT entrance exam twice despite being a good student in High School, I took a year drop too. It was a period where I lost my friends, tasted failures and taunts from parents. Then I landed up in some random engineering college where I felt my frequency is not matching with other students. It was so depressing then when I was surfing the internet one day, I found a form of International Women’s Day Celebration at Google. I didn’t know what it was, I just filled the form, reached Hyderabad for first time in my life. I stood in front of Google building for 2 hours because my name was not on the guest list and my patience took me inside! I met some amazing women who were from Computer Science background and were doing amazing work, so I decided to follow them after coming back. Some fellow attendees helped me to get into Mozilla Community and from here my journey started.
How did GirlScript Start?
So As I mentioned that I visited Google Hyderabad, I understood that I was youngest and only representative from Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh combined (As I am brought up in MP and born and studied in MH). I became a hero after going back home because at Nagpur, just visiting a company like Google is a big thing!😂 A city with more than 50 engineering colleges, now you can imagine how ruined our system has become. We have 10,000 non-premier engineering colleges and as I mentioned I was depressed with the frequency of my classmates. I actually decided to help them in learning about these opportunities.
One day I was representing Mozilla at Maker Fest Ahmedabad and walking around Riverfront, I discussed the idea of a whole new organisation with my mentor to support these students and then it all started.
What is GirlScript?
GirlScript is a section 8 company registered under government of India. Although, to me it is a project that can help thousands of students who belong to the ‘90%’. Upon observation of students, I have learned that only 10% students in every premier or non-premier colleges are curious enough to know everything. Other 90% are the one who needs a friend or a mentor to get things done. GirlScript helps every beginner in technology and programming. We are open for all. Although, the name is given to show support for women in tech. We reserve 50% seats for female programmers in every program, therefore ensuring equality.
We have chapters in 34 cities of India and we have impacted around 5000+ students through our events, workshops and local meet-ups. We have been termed as India’s Biggest Tech Community by StartupsIndia.in and we want to decrease the rate of unemployment in India. We have different programs like GirlScript Summer of Code for helping NGOs in building their tech projects for free and giving a hands on experience of live projects to student developers. We have LetsPy- the Python Programming bootcamp and GirlScript India Summit. We also have new projects under GirlScript like Groom School for generating employment and Hack-O-Trek for travel enthusiasts.
Why choose Python?
So, India has an unbreakable culture of learning C, C++, Java and it has created a myth related to programming. I first did a Django Girls Event in Nagpur and Django is a framework based on PYTHON for building websites. I realized that nobody knew Python in 2016 and then I decided to do a Python Programming BootCamp called LetsPy (formerly known as PyCamp) that also got featured in Education Summit of PyCon North America. It’s not only about Python but it’s about letting people know that they can program in any language if they know basics of mathematics and logics. Python is indeed an old powerful language and now people are realizing it’s potential because of use in extraordinary fascinating words like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Science and Cloud computing. Before it, hardly anyone was aware of any language other than C,C++, Java.
How can one explore Python?
It’s easy. Python can be learned from anywhere and it is a beginner friendly language. You can start with reading documentation on official website Python.org. You can go to djangogirls.org for trying out making a beginner friendly blog website. You can use free resources on Learn IT Girl, Kaggle, Edx or Coursera. Although, I recommend a book other than any platform that will guide from scratch called ‘Get Programming: LEARN to code with Python’ by Ana Bell. She has written an extremely beginner friendly book. Apart from this, I am preparing digital content in a mobile application for students and you can be on waitlist! As soon as I publish the videos, you will be the first one to get the newsletters.
How many chapters are there in INDIA?
There are 34 chapters in India currently. We started our 1st Chapter in June 2017 and have increased upto 34. We have 2 more chapters coming up in Beijing, China and Chicago, United States. We already have a Canada chapter making it the 1st aboard Chapter of GirlScript. So yes, GirlScript is not only in India now and I thank my team for everything we have achieved.
How did you learn – leadership and team spirit in short time?
To be honest, I studied in a school where I participated in almost everything from singing to dancing to drawing or essay writing. I was a versatile child and loved being in the news!
I was just 18 the day my father passed away, leaving my mother and 12 year old sibling. One of my distant relatives came to me and said – “Now you have to be the leader of the family”. So some leadership came from my school and most of it from my personal life experiences.
How does GirlScript stay inspired and motivated?
We have found a great team all around India. We did all this because we found great leaders who are young but passionate and responsible at the same time. It all happens because of them. One person gives positivity to other and the chain continues. Also, being a non profit we have to face a lot of worse financial situations but yes the team never gives up. I believe all the bigger companies that we see today are all there because of this never giving up attitude. Also, we keep intact because we don’t treat anyone working with us as an employee or a volunteer. We work as a family, we share our problems with them ask them for finding a solution. I guess this approach not only brings us close but also helps others in feeling responsible and being heard.
What are the Challenges you have faced?
I can honestly write a book on how to face the challenges. I got judged by people for being from a small city or unknown college. Also, for being from a middle class family. All this didn’t get mixed up in rich brats who generally do or invest in startups. I am a women who believes in being independent and that is biggest problem, people can’t gulp my success. Although, I don’t think I have achieved anything till now. I want to keep on facing whatever life serves on my plate and I have started enjoying it!
Are you learning anything new that is related to your work?
Yes! I learn everyday from everyone. Learning never stops and I don’t think I know everything whether we talk about technical knowledge or entrepreneurship. I try to take out time for practicing programming because it is very important to keep myself updated. It has been hard to maintain the balance. I have myself hired a person to take care of things on tech end. GirlScript and all its program have got overwhelming response from the students and it’s hard to maintain balance between learning and being a leader of an organisation. Because of work, I get to travel, meet people, get feedbacks and ideas. So for a year, mostly going out has helped me in learning. Apart from this, good use of social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter has helped a lot.
Who are your Strength and Support?
My Strength is the “Never give up” Attitude. Everyday I feel like I should quit doing my work and get a job, relax on weekends with a fixed salary in hand. But then, I meet some students, who are actually suffering with zero knowledge of what’s happening in outside world. They are clueless like I was once. And then I start all over again the next morning.
Weakness are many I believe 😂 I am an extremely emotional and altruistic person by heart. Sometimes, I cross the line just to help people. I need to start taking care of myself. I take out some time and going out with friends or at least some time for exercising. Also, sometimes being emotional ruins what you have planned and you actually end up doing things. I am working on better planning, strategising and taking care of myself before others because if I won’t be fit, it will be impossible to help others.
What is your Daily Routine?
To be honest, I don’t have a routine. I have calls at 3 am with a partner or sometimes I have to travel for more than 24 hours for work. I maintain a diary (the old fashioned way 🤣) where I write my checklist. It helps me a lot. Apart from this, I can’t fix my schedule even if I want to. I sometimes being the eldest and a responsible family member, I have to rush home in case of any emergency to check on my mother and my sibling. So basically I am a person in charge for both my team and my family. I have to be available whenever they need me.
An Advice you would like to share to the youngsters
You can do everything in your life but first you need to find your life purpose. Rules are meant to be broken. So fly before they cut your wings! Be honest to your parents, if you be honest, they will trust you and your passion. Even if they refuse initially and if you are 100% sure about what you want from your life , keep going and make them realize your purpose. Achieve something, gain their trust and fly high! Enjoy every little thing and help as many people as possible because karma helps and it has helped me a lot till now.