Our first Contributor Spotlight interview is with Mukulika Pahari, our “go-to” person for Numpy documentation. Mukulika is a Computer Science student at Mumbai University. Her passions outside of computing involve things with paper, including reading books (fiction!), folding origami, and journaling. During our interview she discussed why she joined NumPy, what keeps her motivated, and how likely she would recommend becoming a NumPy contributor.

Tell us something about yourself.#

Hi, I am Mukulika. I live in Mumbai, India, and I’m completing my Computer Science degree at Mumbai University. I joined NumPy last summer during Google Season of Docs. The idea behind this initiative is to raise awareness of open source, the role of documentation, and the importance of technical writing. It also gives technical writers an opportunity to gain experience working on open source projects.

Apart from that, I like to read fiction – literally everything that I can put my hands on – and I find it relaxing to learn origami from YouTube tutorials.

What is your role in the NumPy project?#

I write technical documentation for NumPy, and I help new contributors with their questions.

What are your best and worst experiences contributing to NumPy or other open source projects?#

The best part for me, honestly, is the people. It is inspiring to meet people from diverse backgrounds all over the world and do something together. However, I do find it quite scary to put your code out there for “the whole world to see and evaluate.” It can challenge my confidence. But meeting all the contributors, seeing their work, and getting their valuable feedback is absolutely worth it.

What motivated you to join and contribute to NumPy?What keeps you motivated?#

Since I already used NumPy in my data analysis courses in school, and now I am using it at my internship, I thought that I could also contribute to it. It is always more fun to do side projects in a group. Once you get to know the people in the NumPy community, you want to stay. They are really open and supportive!

What is the book you’ve given most as a gift and why?#

Well, I do not really give out books to people – being a broke college student is quite a barrier. But I think that everyone should read “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy” by Douglas Adams. It is absolutely hilarious! It is both entertaining and spiked with wisdom.

What small purchase has most impacted your life recently?#

I recently bought a nice journal and started to write in it. I find it very cleansing to put thoughts on paper and give them structure. I appreciate pretty paper products–this one has pastel pages.

How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success?#

I can’t think of a specific situation, but, in general, all my experiences so far seem to follow a general theme: it is absolutely okay not to be great at everything. You fail, and then you learn for the future.

Who do you consider a successful person?#

My definition of success is being happy without causing harm to anyone.

What advice would you give someone at the start of their career? What advice should#

they ignore? Since I am at the beginning of my career, I can’t say much. But I think it is nice to listen to everyone and get feedback, with the mindset that you do not necessarily have to act on their advice. Having multiple perspectives is good.

How likely you are to recommend contributing to NumPy on a scale of zero to ten?#

I’d say a solid nine! It is overall a great experience.

Is there something you wish I’d asked but haven’t?#

Yes. What I like the most about the NumPy community is that it does not require huge commitments time-wise. Every little thing is appreciated, so that is certainly motivating.