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First Girl To Join IT Sector From Her Village, Shobha Is Living Her Tech Dream

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This post is a part of Kaksha Crisis, a campaign supported by Malala Fund to demand for dialogue around the provisions in the New Education Policy 2020. Click here to find out more.

India is home to one of the youngest populations in the world, with more than 62% in the working-age group (15–59 years), with more than 54% of its total population below 25 years of age. This also puts the country in a critical double-edged sword situation. Our demographic dividend can put India among the global leaders when it is properly harnessed. But, on the other hand, this can also turn into a disaster if an unskilled, under-utilised, and frustrated young population undermines social harmony and economic growth.

Channelling youth’s energy in the right direction and bringing outcomes has been the biggest challenge for the country. Some of the major points that the youth in the country face today are:

  • Lack of application skills towards the end of academic education
  • Over 63% of young graduates remain unemployed in the country
  • In the remaining 37%, a significant number of people are settling for lower salaries
  • Less than 30% of graduates work in the stream of their learning

The opportunities in the market are showing growth in some sectors. The World Economic Forum estimated that 13.3 crore new jobs would be created by 2022 with Industry 4.0 Technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Cyber Security, IoT, AR, and VR. Irrespective of that, many people remain unemployed today because of the huge gap between what they are learning at educational institutes and what the industry requires at the moment.

Amidst these critical times, a story of a young girl comes to us as a beacon of hope.

Shobha Katuru

Shobha Katuru hails from a remote village in Andhra Pradesh. Her father is a small farmer. In her area, most girls study only up to the 10th standard in the local government school and soon after, they are married off. They are never offered any opportunity to pursue further education.
This had been the norm for ages, but Shobha wanted more from her life. “For many girls in our villages, education is the only way out,” says Shobha.

Her uncle, who is a government teacher, encouraged her to study well. She stood first in 10th standard in her entire mandal (locality). With her outstanding results, she secured a scholarship in college. Her uncle convinced her parents to allow her to pursue higher education.

Transitioning from Telugu medium to English medium in her college was extremely challenging for her. For her engineering, she chose ECE inspired by a distant cousin brother who went to the Netherlands after getting his ECE degree. Soon, she got interested in coding and technology from her CSE roommates.

During the Covid pandemic, she wanted to take this interest further. Just then, she came across a Company website called NxtWave. This company has been working to upskill youth in the right direction towards 4.0 Tech like AI/ML, Cybersecurity, IoT etc., and help them get high-paid jobs by bridging the skill gap between the candidates and the company’s expectations.

With a noteworthy team of alumni of IITs, IIMs, and corporate alumni of major MNCs, they have uniquely crafted programs for various segments of youth, which would help them have the right careers and build the right mindset, handle ineptitude, etc. Through this, they create hope and confidence among the youth and bring real transformation in the learners, unlike anywhere else. In just ten months, CCBP Intensive learners have spent more than 125+ million minutes on learning and made 5.4 million+ code submissions. Just in a span of 2 months, 300+ candidates have transformed & secured jobs in 75+ companies in various tech roles.

She felt this was the right space for her to learn the skills she was keenly interested in. Shobha soon joined the CCBP course because she could learn tech skills in her mother tongue. She started studying from home. But life was not easy for Shobha. She didn’t have a laptop and had to study only on her old 3G phone. Adding to her troubles, the internet connection got weak in the evenings in her village. Besides, living in a joint family, there would always be some commotion in the family. She would have to wake up early in the morning, go to the terrace for a better signal and complete her classes by afternoon.

After relentless hard work, she has become the first girl in her village to graduate and secure an IT job. She joined as a Data Engineer Trainee at Systech, a Los Angeles based technology company.

Shobha with her father, studying on her terrace and with her companions (L-R)

While talking about her success, she says, “My success is the result of the hard work of so many people. It’s my uncle who convinced my parents to allow me to study further. After that, my parents and family members supported me a lot.

During interviews, she would borrow her cousin’s friends’ mobiles and data packs. She shared her journey on LinkedIn and has been receiving tens of thousands of responses from all over the world, including the official LinkedIn handle.

In this journey, I am very thankful to my mentor & guide (at NxtWave) Rahul Attuluri Sir. I used to feel very motivated to not miss his classes. He gives real-life examples and interestingly explained concepts. My brother, who just finished 10th standard, understands all these concepts just by listening to Rahul, sir. Though I was good with technical skills, I feared communicating in the English language. Girish Sir, Karthik Sir (her mentors at NxtWave) motivated us to be strong and bold in the interviews. Their entire team took care of me like their own family,” she shared. People in her village wouldn’t understand her stubbornness to study. Now that she is educated, placed and making an identity for herself, they understand the importance of educating girls in remote areas.

I want to reach higher positions in my current job and domain. I’m giving my best and completing everything perfectly and on time. That is my focus now“, she shared on LinkedIn. Because of her success, her cousins and friends started understanding the need to stand up for themselves. Many people approach her now, asking her for guidance.

Her mentors at NxtWave are supremely proud of her as they say, “It’s extremely satisfying to hear heart-warming stories of our learners and their progress. We can witness many such unique & inspiring stories in this journey, who have backlogs, education gaps, failed interviews, small jobs, non-IT backgrounds, failed in Gate/CAT, etc. One such story of a girl is getting appreciation from thousands of people across the globe, and we’re so proud.

Shobha’s success proves that for many young girls in India, education is the most powerful weapon. We appreciate her strength and determination in reaching her goal. This success is not just hers. It’s a celebration of the wealth of talent in rural India. “I am very happy that many people are getting inspired by my story and thinking about building their careers. Luck has never been on my side, but my hard work is my best friend. And the good thing about hard work is that it favours all,” Shobha shared with a smile.

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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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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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