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Sandeep Dhoot: Navigating the Tech Landscape in the United States

Mr. Sandeep Dhoot (Pilani, ‘08) is a Senior Staff Software Engineer at MongoDB. He has completed a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from BITS Pilani, after which he pursued a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has previously worked at Google as a Senior Software Engineer.

How did your experience at BITS Pilani contribute to your professional growth and success?

At BITS, I met some of the smartest and most hard-working students in the country. These high-achieving classmates have always inspired me to be ambitious, and they continue to do so.

Why did you choose to pursue opportunities in the United States? What factors influenced your decision to work in the tech industry abroad, and how have these experiences contributed to your skill development?

Getting a postgraduate degree always seemed like a natural next step rather than something that needed much thought. Throughout my four years at BITS, I had heard stories of seniors going to the US for their post-graduate degrees. I had yet to learn how studying in the US was compared to studying at BITS Pilani. However, the fact that other seniors I knew had done it was enough for me to hurl myself into this.

Having done undergraduate and graduate studies in Computer Science, a job in the tech industry was imminent. Google was a dream company, and I was fortunate to get to work at Google after my graduate studies.

The best tech talent in the world surrounded me. I got to see up close how these people work and grow professionally. I had always worked hard, but watching these people work changed my definition of working hard. I learned how you need to have a laser focus on delivering. Everyone understands that you need to put in the hours to succeed, but if you are not constantly delivering, you are not being smart about spending those hours.

Working at a big tech company taught me how to build things of the highest quality. Working at a startup afterwards gave me a bigger picture of the industry as I understood why something is or isn't worth building, allowing me to deliberate how I spend my time. I now live by "build what matters and build it fast."

As someone who has experienced different work environments at companies like Google, Rockset, and MongoDB, what are some key differences you observed in terms of work culture, innovation, and collaboration?

By working at these three companies, I saw how a large tech company, a mid-sized tech company, and a startup function. The differences have primarily been around the fact that a startup does not have the luxury to make mistakes, have a slow product, or not deliver on time. A larger company and its employees can afford to falter in all these areas.

The obsession with promotions is real at a bigger company and often clouds everything else. At a smaller company, only a few key projects are ongoing, so it becomes difficult to get the desired scope. Focusing on learning has allowed me to find my way through these different environments.

One thing I have learned the hard way is that you need to be the one to start a conversation about what you want to achieve; nobody else has the time or the incentive to lay down the path to your professional goals. Also, do not wait for someone else to find a problem for you to work on. The ability to find problems to work on is a distinctive sign of growth.

Looking ahead, what are your plans and aspirations? Are there any exciting projects or goals that you're currently working towards?

At my current company, I am part of a small team responsible for the development of a new product. My current goal is to make this new product so successful that it becomes one of the flagship products for the company in a few years.