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Choosing an Alternative Career as a Full-Time Profession

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By Porisma Pompi:

Alternative careers have become a trend amongst the youth in today’s age. The increasing chaos and disturbances in our society and its disparities, and even the uncertain economic surges have made us feel attracted towards less-explored and unconventional careers like Social entrepreneurship and Journalism of the alternative forms. Some of us may even be interested to take them up as full-time professional careers and become change-makers in such fields. Also, the community has felt the need for confident and assertive young people who can raise their voices, reach out to people and increase awareness among the people regarding various social issues and concerns. However, how many of us can actually choose ‘to be different’ without disheartening our parents or falling victim to their endless questions? The moment you tell them that you want to be a social worker and the society needs you, the first thing they’ll ask you is “Why you (amongst so many others)?’’

There is no doubt regarding the fact that our parents still want us to choose professions or careers that can afford us a secured future, and the professions they desire ‘the most’ for us are that of doctors, engineers, businesspersons or even IAS officers. Choosing to be a photographer or a journalist, a cartoonist or a social worker isn’t really easy, in the sense that in the first place, it comes as horrifying news to our parents, and eventually we have a rough time trying to convince them. We end up either pursuing our professions without their consent, or have to dump our passions just to comply with what their idea of a “career” or “profession” is. However, in case the former happens, most of our parents (though not all of them) gradually broaden their thoughts and opinions, and allow us to commence with alternate careers. Even so, there are many cases where the youth are not permitted by their “conservative” parents, to select a vocation that does not provide their children with a guaranteed income.

This can be best illustrated by an incident. A friend of mine, who wanted to be a wedding planner, is now pursuing engineering under the pressures of his parents under the argument that if he doesn’t make his career in the next few years, getting him married would be a difficult, almost impossible task. ‘What’s the use of becoming a wedding planner if your own wedding is being put at stake?’ they said.

To elaborate on my argument, I would like to relate an incident that I encountered myself. The other day, when I was out on a walk with my father, we met a friend of his. He asked me about my present area of study, and what my future plans were. I replied that I was in the last year of my graduation in Economics, and that I was planning to study journalism and take it up as a future career option. Upon hearing that, he shook his head in disagreement and said with the utmost confidence — “Journalism is not… a good line.”

I believe that my father, whom I already had a tough time convincing for letting me do a course in journalism, was in for a surprise when he looked at me and raised his eyebrows in a gesture which meant, “See? I had warned you!”

The person, who happened to be the Director of his own private business corporation, continued —
“Journalism is nothing! Especially, it is not for girls, you know. Running from here and there, collecting news and all… it has nothing productive in it. If you want to do something good, do an MBA. Get into finance and marketing…”

On hearing that, I felt the need to speak up. I just said, “Uncle, I want to take up journalism as a career and specialize in the field of print journalism because I have a passion for it. What favour shall I do to myself by appearing in CAT and pursuing MBA when I don’t have the slightest interest in doing so?”

I don’t know whether he understood my point or not, but I’m pretty sure he mustn’t have, because he still didn’t consider my choice as worthy of his approval. Instead, he started to lecture my father about how the mindsets of today’s generation have gone awry, how all that they want is fame and glory, how they do not care about their parents’ expectations and many such other things, which, I suppose, ultimately had no effect on my father (and I’m very thankful for that!). I was happy to find out that my convincing had had a better effect on my father, because he hasn’t ever asked me to change my preference even after “The Conversation”.

It is entirely true that alternative passions can be carried out even while pursuing a full-time profession. Maybe that is why some professions, such as writing, singing, painting, or even politics, are regarded as ‘alternative’ professions. The list of doctors who are freelance writers (e.g. Deepak Chopra – Indian/American writer of self-help and health books) or even singers (e.g. the lead singer of the ‘Euphoria band, Dr.Palash Sen) or politicians (e.g. Late Bidhan Chandra Roy, physician and Indian politician) is endless. It is a similar trend in the case of other people who actually, though they pursue a different profession too, are famous for their alternate profession as well. In fact, there are examples of many multi-talented professionals who have not just one, but multiple alternate professions. Analysing all such facts, the only question that remains unanswered in my mind is that “Will it prove foolish on my part to take up an alternative career as a full-time profession? “How fruitful will it be to become ‘Jack of all trades, Master of none’-as they call it?”

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  1. Chandrakant Redican

    @ the writer…
    I think in the case of the people who are doing other things but are still writers they are hardly full time writers. They spend a majority of the time doing something OTHER then writing. This is both good and bad. The good thing is, they HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY. A lot of people decide to be writers but might not have much to say. In that case their writing becomes pretty boring. So in that case, following a profession other then writing is extremely useful. Same might be the case with politics, if you are a doctor working in India for many years, and then become health minister it would certainly help.
    But if you are a journalist, you are saying things for other people. Which is a different scenario. And if that is the case, I do not see it being a Jack of all trades. Being a Jack of all trades would be a great help for a movie maker or writer because you have a lot of material to draw from, but still you would need one skill at least that you were good at. Knowing many things would be essential in start up ventures too. Only thing is, these things have no security net and it takes a lot of guts to do it. Many business families constantly start up businesses all over the place, their children do the same and have no qualms in taking risks.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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