Experiences,  Students

Once upon a time working under (strikethrough) with PK

Hi! Myself Shreya, Dual Degree student at IIIT-H. Around Feb / Mar 2018, I heard about PK through a senior of mine. He told me so many things about him and I also searched him and his work online. A week before he was coming for his 1+ year sabbatical, I started reading his research papers, made points why I want to work “under” him. As soon as we got mail that PK joined the college for a year, I mailed him for a meeting regarding research. Surprisingly, I received the response mail from him with a date and time which I wasn’t expecting so quickly. In between I prepared a sort of speech to convince him to take me “under” him. And the day arrived for the scheduled meeting. I had prepared my mind that it would be an interview type meeting, as why such a famed professor will take an average student “under” him so easily. As soon as I entered, he welcomed me with a smile and a Hello which somehow deduced my nervousness. I introduced myself and what work I did in the past, spoke non stop about 10 mins. I was expecting “I’ll think about it” or “give me some time”, but astonishingly, he said “Ok, send me your Github profile link, I’ll see what project I can give you”. I wasn’t prepared for this answer so it took me some time to digest. In most cases, the advisor gives a topic on which you have to work. Unlikely, PK gave me liberty to choose. He called me one day and said “Shreya I want to work on Twitch, sort of interested in trying other networks. The platform is trending, let’s pitch on it and Dipankar (your batchmate) will work with you”. The word Twitch I heard for the first time, so I googled it, discussed it with Dipankar and we came up with some problems. Using PK’s vast network, he introduced us to people who could also guide us in the project. When I introduced myself to the latter [this was one of PK’s former UG student, who has recently finished Ph.D. from CMU] as a student working “under” PK, he corrected instantly by saying “working with” (the reason I quoted and striked under in the title). This overwhelming gesture motivated me to give 200% to do quality work with PK. For the first time I saw someone so stick to the calendar. This also helped me to be organised about work.

Poster presentation during Big Data Policing course. With Devansh, Dheeraj, and PK!

PK was taking his first PSOSM course at IIIT-H course for which he appointed me as a TA and asked me to attend classes. It was obvious to me that it would be out of a league course and PK didn’t prove me wrong. The way he structured the course was out of the box. He organised for the first time the public presentation of projects in our college. As the only TA of the course, he has helped me to the extent possible. We used to have group meetings apart from one to one project meetings because PK thinks that discussing with people probably can give you new ideas which can be helpful to students. There was this time when our paper got rejected and he cheered us by saying when and which is the next conference to work towards. Though our paper got rejected 2 times but this level of enthusiasm never went down. The next semester I was TA again of the (Big Data Policing) BDP course which I had to attend. You will find a whole lot of discussion like an “Open Mic”.

I remember all the students working with him planned for his birthday. He did cut his cake and it’s this habit of mine to apply some on a person’s face which I did in PK’s case also. He didn’t deny the act of mine and happily put his face forward for me to apply the cake . That time I realised that in addition to student advisor relation a pinch of friendship has been added. At the end of the first semester, he took us for a dinner outing. He is always keen to know about his students. We had a blast that day. In the next semester, he invited us to his place which felt as homely as my own house. Now I feel free to talk to him about the future as he sits patiently and listens to all queries and problems. As a tradition, graduating students write a blog on their experiences, I felt it was going to be difficult for me, as writing is not my forte but when I started reminiscing the sequence of events, it seemed like all just happened yesterday and it came in the writing.

Poster presentation of Privacy and Security in Online Social Media course.

PK you have always asked not to address you with sir, look in the entire blog I haven’t. This change is acceptable but I make sure that there should not be any change in the bond that we built in the last two years in the future. Working with you is a kudos to me. Thank you for everything!.

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