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Why You Should Consider An Unconventional Career Path

It’s amazing how a single decision can determine so much of our life, particularly when these decisions have to do with our careers. On one hand, there are people who don’t know what professional career to pick for themselves. On the other, there are people who are convinced that they have found their dream job. But somewhere later in life, they discover new preferences they were unaware of.

My story is a perfect example of the importance of such decisions in one’s life.

Ever since I was a little kid, I had dreamed of becoming a musician. I loved music and people around me noticed that. So, they encouraged me to work on my music talent. I started playing and attending music courses. To this day, I share the same passion for music and musical instruments, but instead of pursuing that, I’ve been pursuing a totally different career: that of an electrical engineer.

So, you might be asking how that is the case. Trust me, I, too, ask myself this question very often. But life often takes unexpected turns and sometimes, for the good. In their teenage years, most people face difficulty in taking important decisions, such as choosing a career for themselves. I felt like I didn’t have that problem. I must admit, I often couldn’t understand why this decision was a tough matter after all, but I learnt it later the hard way.

After finishing high school, I was excited to continue my music education at the university. In the beginning, it was all good. But over time, my excitement somehow vanished. I was no longer sure if music was what I was actually expecting from my life. It was strange to me because I had spent my whole life till that point without ever questioning it.

During my first year at the university, I didn’t perform that well. I was disappointed. I wasn’t happy with what I was doing, so I decided to leave the university and with it, my dream of becoming a musician. It was a hard time for me, extremely hard. I felt like I had been lied to by myself, all that time. Like I had been living in an illusion all this while and didn’t have an identity.

But hard times often precede life-changing events. I decided to get myself out of my comfort zone and try something totally new to potentially find an exciting career. I was hopeless, but I felt like I needed to do it.

I applied for a three-month free electrician training programme at the UVP Schaltschrankbau GMBH in Germany. In the beginning, the idea of working with electrical circuits, learning to fix a socket or assisting during a switch cabinet installation was nothing exciting. But over time, I learned some basics skills and was able to apply them in practice. This idea of applicability gave me a unique sense of self-achievement. I started enjoying it and as time progressed, I got to learn so much more about it.

After that amazing training, I decided to enter a technical university. However, I had to complete a six-month personal training course in mathematics. My whole life changed forever and today, I’m really happy about the decision I took at that time.

My story is nothing special. I know there are many people who have had a similar experience in their life. But why don’t all of us have the courage to consider a career path we have never considered in the past?

I’ve been asking myself this question as well. I cannot say for a fact, because I’m not a psychologist, but I think this hesitation is a kind of unconscious self-defensive mechanism to keep ourselves away from unpredictable situations. In my case, for example, I had some expectations as to what would come after university education or what would happen in my career as a musician.

However, considering a career as an electrical engineer was scary for me because it felt like an unknown territory where it wasn’t possible to predict anything. In addition, I had so many “what ifs” in my head. So, there was a higher chance of getting disappointed in myself if I were to consider an unconventional career.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I want to share with you a few reasons I believe it’s worthy to consider an unconventional career path:

Discover new talents: We humans are complex beings. We’re not always aware of what we really like or not. In your mind, you might find something attractive, and once you get involved, you fall in love with it. Therefore, it’s always good to try something new.

Personal growth: Knowing your true self and your life goals is very important. However, this is not a terminal point, but rather a process. You shouldn’t necessarily push yourself to fit in some scenario of who you want to be. You must get out of your comfort zone and seek after hidden motivations you might have because in this way, you will ask yourself questions and discover what you really want. From my experience, I can say that such moments determine your personality and your personal growth the most.

Job opportunities: Switching to another career can easily open to you endless job opportunities. And this is great because the more choices you have, the better for you.

Meet new people: Meeting other people with completely different ideas is really exciting. You get to experience the world around you from another perspective and this is amazing. On one hand, this will meet your social needs, but it will also impact your personality.

Exciting career: After all, who doesn’t want to have a wonderful story when they are older? It’s just amazing to think how you can switch from doing one thing to suddenly something completely different, and yet, succeeding in it.

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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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