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Why I chose Teach for India and why you should also

When I joined Teach for India, a non-profit social sector organization, I had no idea that I was taking the best decision of my life and that I’ll be asking people to do so as well. I have always dreamt of a white-collar corporate job, driving a sedan to work, and an office space worth Instagramming. The desire for all these pleasures made me choose a corporate job over Indian Defense job back in 2014. I always presumed that corporate job would involve the materialistic pleasures of life and, as a normal 21-year-old Indian guy, I dreamt of living an opulent life.

Well, the reality was very different than my expectations in the corporate job. Though I was paid handsomely and had power and position right from the beginning, there were many things lacking. I realized that for me, experiences value more than luxuries, and money can’t buy those experiences. Although the job was all about the applications of engineering which I studied for 4 years, but the satisfactory feeling at the end of the day was lacking. I began to ponder about the decision of joining corporate over Indian defense job. But as it is said, either you can crib and waste time about the things that couldn’t happen or you can create them. While browsing through Internet one evening, I came across a Facebook post of my friend who had applied for the Teach for India fellowship urging others to join. Out of curiosity, I went to the website and started reading about the fellowship and the experiences of other people. I decided to apply for the fellowship thinking that the fellowship will help me not only avoid the dissatisfaction of the current job, but also help me make a difference to the society. Right from my childhood, I had the strong desire to spread education, as I’d often feel upset whenever I came across any illiterate person. I always believed in the words Nelson Mandela that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. The fellowship seemed like an opportunity to pursue my beliefs and at the same time, promised me an enriching experience. Without thinking much, I filled the application form which was very exhaustive in nature. I also started researching about the experiences of the past fellows, pros and cons of pursuing the fellowship and the post-fellowship opportunities. I also came across certain unfulfilling experiences about the fellowship by the past fellows, but as it always happens, each organization has its own critics. I spent couple of nights finalizing my essay for the application forms and then finally submitted the application. Post this, my application form was shortlisted and I had to give a mini aptitude test online and a phone interview. Then came the Assessment center round after which I got a phone call informing that I have been selected for the Teach for India fellowship 2016.

The entire selection procedure right from the beginning, where a staff person calls you as soon as you register for the fellowship, to the point of final selection was very professional and systematic. Now let me highlight few of the merits you will find in giving these two years of your career to Teach for India.

1.     Sense of Satisfaction: The daily sense of relief you get when you finish your day and the students come running towards you to hug you, to give hi-fives and also to thank you for the awesome work you are doing. The love and respect (and also the food) that you get from the children’s parents is priceless. The people from other companies respect you and value your work. ( Sometimes they are ready to offer you free lunch or snacks too considering the frugal life you are living).

2.     Wonderful people all around: Trust me guys, we all miss our college life because of all the people and the fun-filled adventures we used to embark upon every day. When I had a gap of 2 years after the college, and most of my college friends got busy with their respective lives (harsh reality), I began to look for new adventures to escape into, new places to ride to and people to speak with. I was handling 8 hours job in all the remote locations of the country building power plants, and hardly got any good company to spend time with. When I came to Teach for India, the number of people I got to interact with completely blew me away. I got to meet people from all horizons of life, and with experiences so rich and vital, I found myself to be inexperienced and naïve in front of them. You get to learn from them, you get inspired by them, have fun with them and create memories, permanently etched in your heart. Don’t be surprised if you find your next best friend forever or your startup co-founder there.

3.     Time for personal development:No job is a good job until there is a scope for personal development. In many jobs, I have seen people doing the same job for decades not realizing that they are not growing. The increase in digits in your salary slip or transition from shirt to coat doesn’t prove that you are growing in terms of skills, knowledge or the competencies. In Teach for India, you’ll get enough exposure for not just learning but also to grow significantly. It starts with a rigorous 5 weeks training in an Institute in Pune, where you get to not just learn with 500 like minded people but also get to interact with them day and night. You will be bombarded with so many TEDx talks that you either get motivated enough to deliver a TED talk in future or you start contemplating on what all things you have done so far in your life, but either way, you grow personally and professionally. The quote by Phil Collins “In learning you will teach and in teaching you will learn” completely hold true here.

4.     Boss? What is that? I know many organizations have started adopting this methodology to attract young talents but trust me; it’s just on the papers. When I say there is no hierarchy in the TFI organization, I mean it. There will be managers who will be monitoring you for the best performance possible, but trust me they are your friends. When you and your manager make fun of each other on a regular basis, the best working atmosphere is created and you start feeling comfortable in your workspace also. There are no monetary incentives involved throughout the 2 years of the fellowship and you also don’t wish for it working in social sector organization, but a small pani-puri treat or Cappuccino at CCD is enough to make your day.

5.     Children: I don’t know why I put this point in the last, but I have the habit of saving the sweet dish for the end. I mean who doesn’t like children? You get to relive your childhood with them and they will consider you their superhero for the rest of your lives. Trust me; these small delightful creatures will never forget you even you will be with them for only 2 years of their lives. Yours will be the first image which will come in their heads whenever they are asked to write or speak about their superheroes. They will share their lunches with you whenever they bring the best meal from their houses and they will fight with each other just to hold your hands whenever you stand in a circle with them.

Lastly, I’d like you to ask these questions to yourself. Are you an introvert who doesn’t feel comfortable around people and doesn’t know what to talk about? Do you have the fear of public speaking and you want the opportunity to overcome that? Are you someone who is very impatient and always loses temper over small things but you also don’t like it? Are you the one who gets always scared when the name of responsibility comes but deep down you want to be the responsible person? If your answer is yes to these questions and if you want to change these things about yourself then TFI is the best thing that can happen to you. I used to be the guy who would take a lot of time to break the ice and was never a good conversationalist. I wanted to be the people’s person and wanted to be amidst the smartest bunch of people ever. The concept of duty always made me cringe. I have lived most of my life carefully avoiding any form of responsibility and accountability, but now I am responsible for the career and future of 25 young and energetic souls and I am held accountable for all their learnings and actions as well.

“I know the road is difficult ahead, but you could never say you walked that road unless you start.”

Comments

Anshumaan Goel

Anshumaan Goel

Ver nicely written Shubhankar. I can relate to each and every word you have written here. Way to go bro! :)

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