A Massive Career Change

It’s time to tell you that I am making a massive change in my career. I spent five years of my career in private and capitalistic jobs in a marketing capacity. I spent five years learning incredible skills and working with amazing people, and I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my career. But before I get to that, I want to share some learnings from my work and related experiences.

When I go for workshops to colleges, the most common thing I hear is “I don’t know what I want to do.” They say that everybody around them seems to know what they want to do and that scares them more. They think that they are the only ones who don’t know what they want.

But here’s the thing, most people are on the same boat. Either they simply don’t know what they want to do, or what they say they want to do is not actually what they want in their heart. Here’s what I tell them – It’s absolutely okay! I don’t understand why our society makes us believe that we must have all the answers at the age of 21. 21 dude! Sure, they’re legal adults. But at that age they barely know what the world looks like. It’s especially true for kids who’ve grown up in India, and very likely been exposed only to a handful of subjects. So tell me, for a kid who had to choose between engineering, art, and commerce at the age of 15, and had to continue in that line for the next 5 – 8 years, how much of the world does he know about? And how is he to make decisions about his career? Career isn’t just a few short years; it’s approximately 40 years! We hold children at a proverbial gun-point and make them decide what the next 40 years will be for them.  And that’s awful. That’s just wrong. We make it worse by telling them they must pursue their higher education immediately after graduation without getting a taste of what the world outside college looks like. Some careers require it- like medicine, biotech, etc. But most don’t yet we tell our children they must “finish their education” before starting their careers. What is “finish their education”? If you think that that’s how career works these days, let me tell you it doesn’t. Education never ends and it’s definitely not about collecting degrees. It’s about learning. It’s about expanding your knowledge. And it’s about specialization. Now let’s park this aside for sometime.

When I was in college I believed I wanted to be an entrepreneur. A hotelier on top of that. But I wasn’t very clear about it, and I got the opportunity to work at Facebook so I joined Facebook. Five years and three jobs later I’m not crystal clear about the exact company I want to work for, or what I want my work day to look like. But I’m definitely more aware of some crucial things. For instance –

  • The kind of people I want to work with
  • The environment I want to work in
  • The exact activities I enjoy
  • Most importantly – what I want from my career

I had to deeply retrospect about my experience in each company and job. I had to ask myself some tough questions, make myself consider different possibilities before coming to my final decision. This introspection began last year and I wrote a brief blog post about it too. I want to build my career in Disaster Management. If I have to dedicate 40 years of my life to doing something, it has to be something that gives me a sense of purpose and immense satisfaction. On my death bed when I look back at everything I’ve done, I want to know that I’ve made a difference in the world. And if there’s one thing that really calls for my attention is disaster management. In the last 2 weeks itself we have seen so many disasters across the world. So many fire incidents, massive earthquakes, floods, explosions, etc., have happened in the span of 2 weeks and it’s not getting any better. There is an acute need for professionals in this field and I intend to be one of those. Therefore, I’m going back to academics this year to pursue a Masters in Disaster Management. 

When I was in Facebook, I had volunteered to be on the Emergency Response Team (ERT) which was responsible for floor evacuation in emergencies. What I remember specifically from that is that most people on the floor didn’t care about it. They saw it only as a drill. Some saw it as a waste of time. Some saw it as an annoyance. But very few people saw it as a necessity. One of the things I want to change is that attitude. So to achieve that objective I want to write a series of blog posts that I hope will give people more information about it. To start off, here’s some information on being prepared for earthquakes, floods and fire emergencies. It’s in the format of short, 3 minute tests and you can see the answers and explanations at the end of it. This is based on what I had learned as an ERT member and also some online research.

Fire emergency readiness – http://goo.gl/mB37qs

Flood emergency readiness – http://goo.gl/UMvbLs
Earthquake emergency readiness – http://goo.gl/chOjgL
Hopefully this gives you a basic idea about what to do in emergencies. I have a bunch of blog posts ready to follow up on this because I strongly believe that everybody must know about this. And yes, more updates on which college, where and all will also follow soon once I have stuff finalized.
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