By Diksha Sekhri:
“But, I am bored.” That is how I responded to my parents’ worried question when they asked me, “Why do you want to leave your job? It is only been over a year.” They were baffled that in a sluggish economy (it was late 2009 and recession had hit hard), when people were being laid off, I wanted to call it quits on a fantastic job that was not only giving salary hikes but was also at one of the best tech companies in the country.
Don’t get me wrong, I was grateful for the training and experience I got on the job. But my role had gone from business development and account management to head-hunting for the office’s foreign branches. Having said that, I learnt that I also did not enjoy my original job profile in the first place.
Why was that? I was handpicked for this job straight from college. It was a coveted position and it ticked all the boxes. I was young and a go-getter but I could not imagine being in this role for the rest of my life. There had to be more. So, I set on a path to find out what I really wanted to do.
First, I enrolled in a three-year law course instead of doing an MBA. An MBA at any of the top 10 colleges in Mumbai would simply be an extension of my BMS (Bachelor of Management) course. To me it felt that it wouldn’t add any real value to my life besides helping me earn a degree. Next, pursuing law excited me and it was a rich area of study. Also, it gave me a lot of time to do other things. What did I need all that extra time for? Well… to experiment! I decided that in those three years, I would work everywhere I could, meet people, and learn. Money? Well that too would follow once I knew what really got me going.
During those three years I learnt three things.
When I started out as a career woman, my understanding of the world was shallow. How could I make my knowledge real? This is where the internships and volunteer work came into play. Instead of opting for the so-called fancy jobs I tried out a few things. These included working in the operations team for the Mumbai Marathon, being a law intern, volunteering at few NGOs that supported a range of issues —from child abuse to education.
What followed was also the realisation that an intern is at the absolute bottom of the food chain. More so in the fields that I had picked. We are exploited, at times abused and asked not to use our brain. Only follow orders. The coordination is endless and the nights are sleepless. I can also say internships are thankless.
But then, I also had the time of my life. I understood how small stuff which seemed so big, overwhelming, was really just a series of well-coordinated and executed tasks that would bring it all together.
I worked as a creative adviser on a talk show. Loved. Every. Minute. I didn’t care about the salary or if it was going to turn into a permanent gig. When you work with nothing to lose, your attitude is that of a go-getter and you work with a gusto unmatched by any salaried person.
And because of my never-say-die spirit, my pay was hiked by 70% within the first three months of working there. I loved the entire ideation to execution process. It is a special kind of satisfaction when you see your work being manifested on a platform.Always work for the pleasure of it. Not just a pay cheque.
Going from IT to event management and then from production to law – each day was different from the last. In three years, the jobs taught me how to do a recce, understand cumbersome legal acts, draft elaborate agreements, use complicated software, write a script and edit a complete video and yes, coordinate like a pro.
While they seem unrelated, all my experiences helped me form a strong base and develop a good work ethic. It made difficult bosses and peers seem silly and always made me look forward to new challenges. I also developed plenty of skills.
When you don’t know what your passion really is or if you have one at all, you have to make do with doing something that you think is a good fit. Or else you will always brood about the Mondays and start looking for materialistic things.
What happened to me? I figured that my first love is marketing and it is this which I am meant to do. I started from scratch as an intern again and worked my way up across various fields in fashion, real estate, agriculture, e-commerce and education.
I feel that I have accomplished plenty and that I have more knowledge and experience which clearly makes me want to apply for leadership roles. And yet, I am still to come across an interviewer who has not asked me this one question – “Why did you move around this much? Your CV is not focused, don’t you think?”
Dear working woman, we want to hear your story. Write to us. Tell us about YOUR career aspirations, the struggles, discriminatory practices you want changed, your expectations from your workplace, skills mismatch and wage gaps, and your unique experiences in starting your own business. Join the conversation and let us strive towards making decent work a reality for all!