You might think—competitive programming is for junior coders. For someone already working in tech, you’re more than capable of writing codes and don’t need to prove yourself of that to anyone. Plus, chances are you’re already too busy with work.
But we’re all in the world’s fastest-moving and most innovative sector: technology.
New technologies and software are developed every day. What’s as important as keeping up with the latest things is making sure you’re still learning and can look at challenges from different perspectives—because more complex problems are in the package of growing in this area. That’s where competitions come into the picture. (Read: 3 Reasons Why You Should Join A Coding Competition)
We asked Pekka Aalto, Principle Data Scientist, and Anuj Kumar Agrawal, Staff Machine Learning Engineer, who actively contribute to coding competitions, to share what got them involved in coding competitions and the lessons they have learned from this process.
Having a hobby that’s also food for your brain
Pekka: I was already working as a Data Scientist for some years before I started participating in any coding competitions. As a junior data scientist, I didn’t even know such competitions existed. I have always loved solving problems, so these competitions attracted me immediately when I learned about them.
I see these competitions as a hobby. With nine years of experience, code competitions are still helpful for me. I found that code challenges and programming competitions also help me concentrate. They make me sit down, focus, and not move until I have solved the problems, or the competition is finished.
You’ll only win if you participate.
Anuj: I started my journey from SPOJ (Sphere Online Judge) before moving to other online coding competitions. More than winning, it was a way to find a plethora of good questions to practice. The sense of achievement and thought process required to solve the problems attracted me to join these.
With every new competition, I like to challenge myself more and learn something new. Pressure conditions were required to get on the toes to evaluate speed and time constraints. Winning will surely get you much more: prize money, cool gadgets or even a job. But you will only win if you first participate.
It’s not all about winning the competition
Pekka: I like participating in coding competitions because I can review how others solved the problem. There are so many brilliant coders out there. Even if I found a solution, there is always someone with a better and more elegant solution.
Experienced or not, if you work with codes regularly, you should try participating. I think it is important to keep challenging and improving one’s thinking, and coding competitions are a fun way of doing it. There are also practical benefits. Small coding problems are good exercise for the brain. Doing them has helped me write better code and read other people’s code faster. It has made me a better coder, which certainly helps in the Data Science job.
Fostering personal and professional growth
Anuj: Code competitions help in real-time and periodic performance evaluation and help get different perspectives on solving a problem in multiple ways. Moreover, a good competition profile gives an edge over shortlisting for good companies.
I believe everyone should participate in programming competitions irrespective of age if you are interested in software or are already in the software industry. There is no such limitation that only the junior or the senior should participate. The more you think about the problems, the more your thought process will develop. So, it helps in every stage of your career and all aspects of real-life problems.
Now, it’s your turn!
If you’re looking for a coding competition to challenge yourself and maybe win prizes, join us in one of Southeast Asia’s largest competitions, Codegoda. Stand a chance to win prizes worth a total of 10,000 USD and a fast-track opportunity to join Agoda. Registrations open on July 1, 2022, at codegoda.io