Challenges of navigating an "unconventional" career path

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

My journey after college and how I navigated an “unconventional” career path

I graduated from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, in 2017. While in college, I started preparing for CAT but I never really knew “why” I wanted to do an MBA. As a graduate in economics hons with a first class degree, I had numerous options that I could pursue. My personal interest in development economics and health economics, provided a sense of direction. As a result, I started looking at unconventional” career paths (the type that hardly saw takers in Kolkata, atleast).

However, I had no idea how to navigate these alternative paths or even envision what my career trajectory could look like.

As an ASV (Academic Support Volunteer) and Mentor at Make a Difference (MAD, Kolkata), I knew a thing or two about the education space and that guided my decision making process. October of 2016, I landed on the Teach for India (TFI) website and absolutely fell in love with the fellowship movement.

The rest is history.

Getting my hands dirty

I have spent the last three years navigating this space to know where I see myself as the best fit, given my skills, experiences and passion. Let me tell you this- if you had to do it all by yourself, the cost might be high. It is time-consuming and requires a lot of your energy, especially if you do not have a close friend or a mentor who is already working in this field. Been there, done that. After a couple of internships, fellowships and independent projects, I finally developed a deep understanding of the space and its offerings.

The importance of mentors and guidance

Over these years, I have deeply explored the development space in India and have learnt about its various facets. My mentors have played an important role in helping me understand this space better. They saw someone passionate about positive social change and they stepped up, everytime. I am extremely grateful to all my mentors who knowingly or unknowingly enabled this journey.

From a student perspective, especially in these trying times, I understand how confusing these crucial career decisions can get when the information is scattered. But that never stopped me from walking down this road less travelled. I know that if I did not traverse the paths I did, I would’ve never found my “Can’t not do” as Paul Shoemaker puts it. I am one of those who took “make your passion your profession so you don’t have to work a day in your life” too seriously.

Why am I sharing my story with you?

Over coffee and some nice snacks with one of my early mentors I received a suggestion that always kept coming back to me. That day, Nikhil Iyer took out a couple of hours and met me after work.The point of the meeting was to guide a novice TFI fellow who was interested in the development sector. He patiently listened and asked a lot of questions. That ended with my first ever moment of clarity and sense of direction (not in absolute terms, of course). I was extremely grateful to him for volunteering to do that and wanted to show my gratitude. Without a pause, he suggested that the only way of doing that would be to do the same with others in future who might struggle and need someone to speak to, as they attempt to figure it all out.

So, here I am trying to do exactly that.

I have been fortunate enough to have met some really passionate and impact-oriented people in my journey. As I try to bring together all my learnings, I would love to share them with anyone who needs it.

If you are someone who wants to “make a difference” or “create an impact”, tune in to our LinkedIn page for the upcoming information and sessions that we are working on. Hope to see you there.

Let’s create a better world, together!

PS: If you are a development professional reading this and want to contribute in your area of expertise, please do reach out to us. We would love to collaborate with you!

About the author: 
Ayushi Biyani, Co-founder, Impact Connect

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