Published Aug. 5, 2020
Nilesh is one of our most experienced mentors. With almost two years on the platforms, he has held dozens of mentees’ hands during their journey and knows exactly what it takes to break down a big goal in digestible pieces.
Hey Nilesh! Welcome to our ‘Meet the Mentor’ series! You’ve been with us for a few years already! Why did you decide to become a mentor?
I felt that this was a new and exciting opportunity and a different personal challenge to Udacity, where I was mentoring before. At Udacity, I had a lot of 1-on-1 students at the same time. This felt more personal and focused, a program with more freedom, so I wanted to try it out.
Becoming a mentor is key to growing as a person, in ways that I didn’t think I could grow. Even before joining, I did offline mentoring with street kids in Mumbai and even helped two of them to get part-time jobs. It feels great and challenging at the same time.
What is your background?
I did my bachelor’s in Computer Science, went on to 4 internships before getting my first full-time gig with Aptech. I freelanced for another year building Web and Android projects and spent the nights reading research papers with a study group.
In 2015, I entered a meetup group and they showed me all these insane applications of AI and the connection of multiple disciplines involving neuroscience and bioinformatics. That’s when it really clicked for me.
I am currently working with Augle AI and their computer vision solutions and focusing on my hardware customization startup at Buildawn Labs.
How did you first get into tech?
In high school, I failed my subjects because I wasted my year, sitting on the couch, thinking what I should do with my life. I always wanted to make games like Pac-man and Minesweeper, so I went to a local coaching institute and started learning Turbo C.
Codecademy got me started with building websites a little later and I took MIT AI2 to start with other apps. Since then I’ve been on this journey.
Did you ever have a strong mentor in your life? How did they help?
My dad has been a great mentor all my life and continues to be. He taught me how to understand advice and how to turn it into actions. I learned how to overcome bad decisions and make the best out of them from him as well. He always inspires me to show ambition and work hard, in order to get where I want to be.
How do you usually set up mentorships? How and how much do you communicate?
For me, the most important part of a mentorship is being dedicated and having the time and discipline to stick to a plan, so I usually ask folks how much time they can commit and plan accordingly.
Next, I’m trying to figure out how much they already know and how much energy is needed to get them towards their goal. I also usually do video calls to teach a concept or help with coding, the rest I do through chat or e-mail.
How do you track progress in your mentorships?
Part of becoming a mentor is to be able to make progress in small improvements every day, which eventually compound to a larger goal.
I set weekly goals as milestones to the end goal and keep increasing the challenge and difficulty as we go along.
Tell us about one of your best past mentorship experiences!
There are so many over the past two years! I remember about a year ago I and my mentee planned on how we’re going to achieve his goal, and during that time we became very close friends. I feel like he’s an older brother to me now.
The way he worked his way through all the brainstorming questions and interviews, being part of his journey and finally getting the job he wanted resulted in a very deep friendship. Nothing else is more satisfying :)
What’s your best advice for new mentors out there?
It is not about providing the answers when mentees need them - it’s more about helping them arrive at the answers.
Focus on long term goals with the daily milestone on what mentees have learned today to move towards their big goal.
And to wrap things up, where can we find out more about you and your work?
One of my apps - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=turing.labs.ai
I contribute to open source - https://github.com/NileshArnaiya/
Listen to my podcast - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpXBO_B9FAxZ5FH8c2HFKvQ
Connect on Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/in/nilesharnaiya/