A loud cheer and generous applause expanded the space of the college auditorium as the last speaker made her way down from the podium soon after finishing the speech with the words “The future of India is in your hands, be prepared.” It marked the end of a two-day Trilingual National Debate Competition but perhaps, for me, the beginning of a new journey ahead, holding blurred dreams, bold aspirations, and high hope.
Having attended many debate competitions and listened to a diverse set of speakers on social-economic issues has always imbibed me with a sense of curiosity to unravel the ground realities. It was my last year of Engineering, and I felt this curiosity had deepened with time. Holding it strong, I joined student organizations that were working in the social sector. Being part of these student organizations provided the opportunity to observe some of the ground-level problems. A visit to the slum area left me with a huge impact, and I was shocked to see the other side of the world. In some instances, one experience can altogether give a new direction to life, and for me, it was this visit.
When my Engineering degree was closer to the end, I had firmly decided to make the transition to Social Science and got filled with a great passion for working in the social sector. It was a few months before completing my graduation when I applied for a fellowship program that sends fellows in rural India for contributing at the grass-root level. Reaching into the last round but not making it in the final list grossed me to self-reflect upon my entire interview that was quite detailed and taken by a panel of six. A thorough analysis suggested that what I possessed at the end of my graduation was the passion, interest, and motivation to work in the social sector but is that sufficient? Perhaps not!
An impactful career in the social sector is propelled by a specific skill set, detailed understanding, critical thinking, and empathetic engagement. Passion and motivation solely can not work unless supported by the correct knowledge base, and I was fortunate enough to perceive this early. Rather than directly jumping into the social sector, I invested considerable time to figure out different opportunities that can support to acquire the knowledge base of this field and finally decided to pursue MA in Development.
The decision to shift my career trajectory was not an easy one but rewarding and fulfilling in terms of deciding what I absolutely want to do, setting the goals, and making the best efforts to achieve them. The course MA in Development aided me in multiple aspects of understanding the social sector and introduced new perspectives of approaching it. I support vast levels of inquiry and experimentation in this discipline that can head us to new concepts, innovative ideas, and evidence-based theories. These should act as guiding principles for actions in development practice. Social sector space is a Science Laboratory where permutation-combination with the existing knowledge can invent something extraordinary, but the only question is: are you ready to experiment?