"Math is hard," a talking
Barbie doll told a generation of girls who grew up thinking they
should be afraid of numbers and science. Luckily, this generation
doesn't think so. A very good example: 12-year-old Gursimran Arora,
world's youngest Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer female
Besides studying, she now works as a freelancer for companies
like Citilink Info Pvt Ltd, Purple Matrix Inc, Elixer Designs and
Red Baron Online, creating fully flash interactive websites,
introductions and high-impact interactive presentations.
"The first few orders came in through my best friend, Sumit Aneja
and through a few other friends. The first was Purple Matrix when I was 12.
From then on, things snowballed," explains Gursimran, as she rattles
some more names of projects she is working on.
The ninth grade student of Modern High School in Delhi was hooked
to computers at the age of nine. She narrates, "My cousin had a PC
installed, which had me looking at the screen in wonder. It was my
tenth birthday gift and, ever since, I have been busy doing
something different with it. It started off with kiddish games, then
moved to cyberspace. I did waste a couple of weeks in the beginning,
thinking that 'online' meant 'chatting' and 'surfing', like many
people. Later, cyberspace meant a wholly different thing."
It was on one of her surfing nights, when she was chatting online
with a stranger, that she started thinking about putting her own web
page online. "I came across this guy, 22-year-old Sumit, who
introduced himself through his profile online. I was impressed at
the imagery but, as an amateur, I had no idea how to go about it. So
I looked for sites which explained how to make web pages."
The first few tries were not so good, but Gursimran later started
designing and coding pages like a professional, hosted a site on
Freewebcity, and launched her first web site. "My best friend, Sumit
Aneja gave me a couple of projects to design as well and soon I was
very good at it."
She then enrolled for formal training, for the MCSE exams. It was
a tough, training intensive three months, she says: "There are six
gruelling exams in a row and the chances of not making it are high.
But my parents were very supportive, with my mother spending four
hours a day just taking me to the institute, waiting there and
bringing me home. The course taught me networking on an NT platform,
how to create and manage simple and complex networks. It is highly
complicated at some points but, then again, it is about using your
head and having a will for the understanding of networking. The
course helped me curve out my tech-related interests in a better
Currently, she hosts her own profile online at Gursimran.com. "The domain name
was a gift from my brother for clearing the MCSE exams, and he
thought I could make it my online portfolio. After which the news
about my being the youngest MCSE hit newspapers like Delhi Times,
Punjab Kesari and the Tribune. Many people in the U.S read The
Tribune online, and that is when I started to receive projects from
abroad as well."
Being a teenager, and a girl at that, does have its downside when
it comes to receiving projects though. "Talking online or on the
phone usually convinces lot of people I am capable enough, but I
have lost about two projects because they couldn't handle the idea
of a 14-year-old putting up a website. People from U.S are more
appreciative, however, and treat you like a professional. Age is not
a hindrance with them."
Being a good designer and coder has also won her a lot of
friends. "Lots of them wonder if they can do it too. Lots of them
pity themselves for not starting early, and are all very supportive,
especially my best friend, who has been my mentor." There are boys
as well, who ask for help whenever required. "At times they crib
saying they don't have the energy to do both, academics and
computers. Most just express how proud they are, and how they envy
me at times for starting so early."
And what does she do with the money she makes? "I am gadget
crazy. I have a digital camera, digital diary, a cell phone and,
with my next pay packet, I plan on getting a palm pilot. Also, my
parents have never given a second thought before buying me a gadget
I have needed for work. No matter how inaccessible or expensive a
thing, they have always insisted that I should have a particular
gadget if I need it."
But this bratty teenager sure has her head on her shoulders.
"Everything excites me about this field. The idea of doing something
different, and creating an extraordinary world of my own, really
intrigues me. Every website has to be different from the other and
to come up with something innovative all the time is what makes me
The slowdown in the tech industry has also affected her. She
says, "Yes, it did affect the orders. People were very eager to get
work done earlier, but now they are sticking to the silent game!
Lets hope things settle down soon."
We hope so too, Gursimran.
teens have.com of age
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