In 2015, I graduated from IIT Kanpur (a premium institute in India). I had a job offer in hand, as a software engineer. I had no clue what to do in the job but the company was benevolent enough to teach us to code for a total of 7 days. That's it.
Still, I was enthusiastic, I went boldly to my manager and I asked, "What should I work on?". And I got the best reply, "I don't know.". And yes that's from my manager. I asked, " So, What should I do in office?", to which he replied, "Just learn whatever you want to, you're an IITian you can figure out".
At first, it sounded like a boon. I had all the freedom in life to do whatever I wanted and someone is paying me for it. But it took me 5 years to understand the real implications of it.
Data Science was booming in 2015, all my peers were learning machine learning, so I learned that. I genuinely liked it because it was just math, little coding involved, and importantly, promised good money.
I made real efforts to attain a data scientist title after my name in my LinkedIn profile. I participated in kaggle competitions, learned all the algorithms, courses, certificates. And I did it, Data scientist at Myntra (Flipkart company).
Now that I have achieved the most hyped job of the 20th century, a day came when I asked the most dangerous question, "Now what ?". I asked those god forbidden interview questions to myself, "What are your Strengths? What are your weaknesses?", and this time I had to answer them truthfully.
I started a small venture in my college I wanted to make money from something. I got into affiliate marketing, created a blog in WordPress and also a Facebook page. I started selling a pyramid scheme, disguised as a product for diabetics. I know it sounds silly(Note: lack of direction). It lasted for 2 months and I quickly realized the BS and made an effort to ace my semester and get a decent job.
That's when I realized how blindly I chose data science as my career.
I always had that itch inside me to make something on my own. I wanted to be an entrepreneur but I blindly followed what everyone was doing. I took the wrong route without any introspection.
I knew what I had to do already. I want to build a product of my own. I want to invest my time and energy, into something that people can't help but pay for it.
That's when I took the leap and quit. The people around me never understood my decision. I had a good life, a good job, and a good career trajectory.
The decision wasn't so easy. I had good compensation and ESOPS in a high growth startup, and I did hard work to reach there. But I made a mistake, and, like any good investor, I understood the sunk cost fallacy. I quit.
I didn't have a plan back then. I just quit, the environment wouldn't help me with my goals.
I could just wait till the opportunity just arrived but I chose to do the right thing. I didn't have any idea what to do next. I just want to make a product or service which I can sell and make my living from it.
I did a lot since I quit, from trying YC startup school to finding a co-founder and failing to do both. I failed on 4 apps in diverse fields ranging from AI gym assistant to chat application for finding mentors.
And I gained a lot of knowledge and networked with some incredible people, which wouldn't have happened without hard resetting my path. And I don't regret my decision.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool - Richard Feynman
If there is one take away from my experience, it's to stay truthful to yourself. There is no shame in making mistakes. It's okay to make life changes that might seem absurd at the moment.
But if you don't accept them you will never have that perfect day, you have been dreaming for so long.
BTW, I quit 18 months back. I did a lot since then, from trying YC startup school to finding a co-founder. I failed on 4 apps in diverse fields ranging from AI gym assistant to chat application for finding mentors. I share my journey on Twitter, please follow me there, for daily updates about indie hacking.