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Fast Start to a Promising Career: New College Grads’ Talk on Kubernetes at OSS EU and Beyond

The goal of an open source internship is for a student to ultimately contribute to an open source project, which presents a major opportunity to learn and grow in a real-world environment. Participating in an active open source community is an amazing opportunity to acquire technical knowledge, learn new skills and stretch problem-solving abilities, touch software that’s prevalent in the real world and gain invaluable insight from mentors. What more could a new grad ask for in an internship?

Akshat Khanna and Unnati Mishra took advantage of such an internship opportunity at VMware earlier this year, and they now work on the Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) team in Bangalore as Members of Technical Staff. These eager, high-achieving new college grads and hires are not only passionate about open source and innovation, but they’re also cementing themselves as valuable resources for others, both in their roles and associated interests in the community.

Giving talks at conferences, creating how-to videos, and contributing upstream and to SIGS is not new to them either. In fact, the two have come together to craft a talk on Security with Certificates in Kubernetes, which will be a featured session during Open Source Summit EU, September 13-16.

I invited Akshat, a member of the Tanzu/Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) Edge team and Unnati with TKG Release Engineering, to chat with me about their tech journeys, current roles and associated work in the community, their aspirations and what brought them together in crafting their talk for The Summit.

Here’s what they had to say.

Could you speak about your tech journeys and what attracted you to open source and its community?

Akshat

My interest in computers and coding started in my early teens, although I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my father — also a computer scientist — who ignited the spark of my fascination. By the time I was a college freshman, I was self-learning new programming languages like Python and web development, and developing full stack web apps and scripts. During my senior year I came across cloud-native technologies like Docker, serverless functions and Kubernetes. I began learning about them through YouTube and other online learning platforms. Then I got introduced to open source through Hacktoberfest and contributed to some projects, and in the process, discovered how helpful and supportive the open source community is. I’ve been passionate about learning new technologies and contributing to open source communities ever since.

Unnati

My tech journey started in 2020 when the country was in lockdown. I was in college with a lot of downtime at home and started learning web development and CSS Art, a self-maintained and open sourced gallery for pure CSS web art and a crowd-sourced test environment for $async, a CSS loader that’s part of the Style.Tools project. One thing led to another and I challenged myself to #100DaysOfCode where we had to code daily for 100 days. I was so into it, I completed three rounds. That’s 300DaysOfCode! During this time, I also learned C++ and Python, created a lot of CSS art and did competitive programming. A tweet about Hacktoberfest got me going off in the direction of learning open source, and that’s when I got hooked on the culture and collaborative community experience.

Could you discuss your organization’s focus and how your roles fit into the greater whole of your team?

Akshat

The TKG Edge team works around Edge use cases and enhances Kubernetes and Cluster API (CAPI) to natively support resource-constrained devices at the Edge. We’re building a set of capabilities that extend existing Tanzu products so customers can run Kubernetes at the Edge and manage their modern workloads in a unified manner. I contribute to the team by leveraging my understanding of huge codebases and following code quality and standards I learned in working in open source and skills developing production-ready software that I picked up from interning at fintech companies and startups. I’m grateful to my managers Vijayakumar Arumuga Nadar and Sudheesh Sudhakaran for providing me with the opportunity to work on an amazing team. 

Unnati

One of the key focus areas of the Tanzu TKG Release Engineering team is releasing TKG Core, an opinionated set of packaged and released components to support a Kubernetes deployment. It serves as a building block product teams use when developing VMware’s Kubernetes offering. Aside from TKG Cores, we also create TKGS/TKRS, which consumes TKG Cores. I’m mainly responsible for releasing and announcing the Cores to the TKG Cores users in our part of the world. Sometimes I require support with my work, and my manager Divya Marwaha and my mentors make themselves available to provide guidance. 

You’re both very involved with the open source community in addition to your VMware roles. Could you talk about these interests?

Akshat

I’ve contributed upstream to Kubernetes and Kubernetes Official Docs and been active in other Kubernetes SIG projects and the CNCF and Kubernetes community. Kubernetes holds a particular interest for me. It’s the best container orchestration platform that automates many of the manual processes involved in deploying, managing and scaling containerized applications. The best part is it’s open source. VMware is one of the most active contributors to upstream Kubernetes, and I’m honored and proud to be a VMware employee and speak about Kubernetes at conferences whenever I can. My most recent talks took place at Kubernetes Community Days Bengaluru, Kubernetes Community Days Chennai and Container Days 2022 at Hamburg, Germany.

Unnati

After participating in various hackathons, I began recording programming concepts on my YouTube channel with the intention of writing a particular concept on my whiteboard and then thinking about ways to revise it. In the process, I started acquiring an audience, and many viewers commented with suggestions about topics I should cover. Per the feedback, I began creating videos on a frequent basis. It was fun and quite a confidence builder, and I discovered when you teach someone a concept and they understand it correctly, it’s the best feeling in the world. I then started giving demos and talks at small meetups and conferences to help people learn about programming and connect with the community.

Could you discuss your collaboration in developing your talk “Security with Certificates in Kubernetes” and what the audience can expect to learn?

We delivered a talk together at Kubernetes Community Days Chennai, having learned we had both faced challenges working with certificates related to authentication and authorization in Kubernetes. The talk we’ve crafted for the Open Source Summit EU in Dublin will explain the use of certificates in different components of a Kubernetes cluster and how they interact. We’ll also present a live demo on how users can generate certificates and issue them; the role of certificate authority for signing and issuing the certificates; and how certificates are rotated and renewed before expiration.

What are your aspirations? How would you like to make an impact on the world?

Akshat

I’d love to continue to explore new technologies, be tech savvy and solve customer pain points with optimal solutions. I’d like to learn from experts and build my connections, and build value in the community. Ultimately, I aspire to mentor others and become a tech leader who, with help from his team, can develop a product that solves a problem for a vast population.

Unnati

I aspire to meet my goals (and then some!), gain leadership skills and become proficient in my field. I’d also like to continue to be part of the open source community, and make an impact through practicing empathy and listening. Because nowadays people are less patient and aren’t ready to listen to people!  

In closing

Well, I’m certainly inspired by Akshat and Unnati’s aspirations! 

Don’t miss their talk Security with Certificates in Kubernetes at the Open Source Summit in Dublin on September 15 11:55 IST / Wicklow Hall 2A. You can register virtually too!

Stay tuned to the Open Source Blog and follow us on Twitter for more deep dives into the world of open source contributing.

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