Recently, we got in touch with Kunal Singh, the Chapter leader for CodeChef VIT Chapter. Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), based in Tamil Nadu, is an institute which offers courses ranging from Computer Applications and IT to Design and has an active CodeChef College Chapter. For the uninformed, a CodeChef College Chapter is a coding club that aims to improve the competitive coding culture in a college. It is run by student representatives called as CodeChef Chapter Leaders and is looked after and guided by CodeChef Mentors.

For our first question, we ask Kunal how he was introduced to Competitive Programming.

“When I came to this college in my first year, there were many domains and fields and I didn’t know anything about tech at all. So around the end of my first semester, in VIT you have these recruitments for all the clubs on campus and I tried my hand at music, dramatics, everything. So, CodeChef VIT had this Competitive Programming workshop every Wednesday and I attended their first session before the recruitment which was “Introduction to CP.” So, that’s when I got to know there is this field called Competitive Programming and that you have all these competitions like ICPC and all”.

Moving on, we questioned him about what drew him towards CP,  

“Uh, yeah, I like the challenges and the feeling of satisfaction you get after solving a problem. Like you can have different solutions for the same question, so I like the part where we can be creative.”

We talk to him about his favorite part of being a member of a College Chapter, to which he says,

“Yeah, so basically once you enter college you make a set of friends but then you actually need some people to motivate you to do productive things also. So, once I joined the chapter we conducted these events and I developed an interest in conducting events, management, naturally, I also did coding, but then gradually I started liking management more. So, I made a lot of friends doing that, so yeah, that’s probably it”. 

The conversation moves on, and we talk about what is his favorite part of being a Chapter leader.

“You learn many things, like how to work with a team, how to manage the schedule along with your studies, Also, when you have an event you have to manage finances, sponsorships, everything. So you learn how to talk to people, approach companies, how to talk to guests, how to deal with your college management [laughs at the last one]”. 

We ask him if he remembers his first day as a Chapter leader. He replies in the affirmative, mentioning that it was during the lockdown, and had it been otherwise there would have been a big ceremony in the amphitheatre of VIT. 

Next, we ask him to reminisce about any memories that stand out in his College Chapter journey, and  he mentions two rather different experiences.  

“First, if we had the ceremony (the ceremony of appointing a Chapter Leader), I would have mentioned that, but that didn’t happen. So, a good memory would be, when, in my second year  as a core member of the team, I contributed to the college tech-fest Gravitas. In Gravitas, we conduct 5 events and what we do is we have one person manage one event, so for 5 events we have 5 co-ordinators. So it is a big responsibility to become co-ordinator and I was chosen for one of the events. I worked around two months for the event, contacted speakers and everything and once the event was successfully completed that feeling was really nice. 

Next, he talks about the negative experience, telling us how the Covid 19 pandemic led to the cancellation of their hackathon DEVSOC, which happens to be a big deal in South India. 

Moving on, we ask him if he remembers the details of an event or contest that they hosted after he became Chapter leader. 

“So yeah, there was this one event we conducted, it was a tech-talk, of-course it was an online event and it was part of Gravitas. So this year Gravitas was also online, so we made the tech-talk a free event and invited speakers from the tech-community.There were around 12 speakers, and we did a round table conference type thing, and the response was great! Around 350 people participated and the speakers were also great, so that was one nice event that we conducted. 

We ask him whether he sees a difference in himself or the way he handles various things since becoming a Chapter leader and he responds in the affirmative, saying, 

“Yeah, like I have matured a lot. When I became a Chapter leader, I had a lot of plans. I thought, I will do everything and as time passes by you learn not everything is feasible, so I would advise myself to tone down a little and focus on the things that we could really do”. 

We ask him if he plans to introduce something new to the Chapter now that he is a leader and he shares some of his plans with us. 

“Yeah, I have talked about this already, the CodeChef College Chapter community isn’t as well-structured a community like the other clubs. For example, the other clubs conduct a lot of events among themselves, they collaborate amongst each other. We have never conducted any event in collaboration with any other Chapter, so I think that is something I would like to do”. 

For our last question, we ask him for a piece of advice for someone who has just started their own chapter. 

“I would say that people are really important, if you can get the right people in your community then your community will definitely grow. So, focus on getting the right people on board”.

That was CodeChef in conversation with Kunal Singh, we hope you enjoyed the blog, stay tuned for more. 

To know more about College Chapters and how to start one in your college check out the details here

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