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What Changing Jobs Every Year Taught Me About Life

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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.

The Adventure

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.

Lesson 1: Don’t Be Afraid To Get Your Hands Dirty

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.

Lesson 2: Have a good attitude

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.

Lesson 3: It Is Okay To Not Have All The Answers, Let Life Take Its Course

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!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

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.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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