I’ll tell you about one such incident today.
Few years back, I was an International Business Major at a fancy Business School, with absolutely zero dreams of working in some famous MNC. All my batch mates had dreams about their placements – from such big MNCs, to famous IT giants, from high level banking jobs and to even higher level marketing positions. I, on the other hand, had a different dream. I wanted to be an Advertising Girl.
My batch mates laughed. ‘Why did you even come to the Business School then, girl?’ they would ask me at several occasions. Well, I joined because at the time, I didn’t know better. I come from a city where the word ‘career’ only mean Doctor or Engineer. And if you weren’t book-smart enough to be admitted into a good medical college or a govt engineering college, you were sent off with a prayer to get an MBA degree. So when I wanted to come to Delhi and try my luck in the big mad Ad World, my only way was to enroll in an MBA college with good (and safe enough on my parent’s scale) hostel facility. Our family did not know anyone from the field, we had no “connections” and we also had no clue what courses to do in order to land an Advertising job. Also, no one in our ncie little protective house was not too thrilled about it at the time. I mean, advertising did have a lot of stories around it – like margarita’s being served during meetings, and girls who smoke. My parents were kinda worried. So MBA it was, I decided. I would figure out my way to the Ad World once I get to Delhi.
Turns out, MBA is too much time taking. I found myself buried in projects and group-presentations and foreign concepts like Commerce Studies (I was a Science – Bio student, balance sheets made me uneasy). I will find a way to get into advertising, I would still tell myself. I was determined.
In no time, the third semester ended and before I knew it, placement cell was calling us to sit for company interviews. Big MNCs, IT Firms and Banks were supposed to come to the campus for placements. No advertising agencies, of course. Just to test the waters, because I was curious about it, I decided to appear for an interview for a marketing job in one of the leading news channels with posh top floor office and studio in CP, Delhi.
During the interview, I was relaxed as hell because I didn’t really want the job, I was here just to check it out you know? I also found out that when they said ‘marketing’, they actually meant ‘direct sales’. As in Space Selling for the channel. I was even more detached and disinterested now because sales and me – not a good match. I made a few smart ass comments during this interview and walked out feeling like a witty person, mentally planning to check my email at the hostel internet cafe hoping to see an email to one of the million emails I had sent out to almost every ad agency in the world, asking for an internship.
No emails had arrived. But a phone call from the placement organizing cell informed that I was one of the 4 students the News Channel had selected. The other 3 were already partying – because the brand was huge, adding it’s glossy charm and value to our nascent careers! What was not to love?
Everyone was congratulating me, but I? I was facing one of the toughest decisions of my young life. Taking it up meant I was letting go of my dream. Accepting this offer meant I was giving in to fear of future because there wasn’t anything that was working out in the advertising front anyway. Taking up this job was obviously the risk-free, the practical and the best thing for me. But, I am nothing if not impractical.
I decided to let the opportunity go.
Yes, I did not join the big news channel, it was a risk I took after thinking for a week. Instead, I joined a much smaller firm with less than half of the salary offered by the news channel (which wasn’t much in itself!), in a division that was apparently new and experimental. It was called Digital Wing.Instead of selling ad space or ad sir-time for a big channel, I was now helping out on planning how to sell products on the World Wide Web, with the help of banner ad on websites, e-mailers and search engines. I was a Digital Advertising Girl. And no matter how new the field was, not just o me, but to the entire team and even to the country – I felt at home.
With insane hours of debating over HTML mailers and call-to-actions, on roll-overs on Yahoo home page to mailers on Rediff, I was living a new life. One bold step, and I had created a new, much brighter life for me. Well, even if it wasn’t brighter, it would still be good because it was my life, my way. But thankfully, it was turning out to be good. And exciting! I can’t imagine how a sales job at a channel would have been exciting, no? My risk was working in my favor, I was happy!
And today, when I look back – even though I am still to attend a meeting where they serve Margaritas (much disappointment, this one!) I am glad I chose to be bold and change the course of my life with that one decision – instead of being driven by worry and norm and everything that’s expected. And I am proud as hell, and all I want to say to anyone who’s reading it – stop letting fear or worry take over, if you believe in something, go ahead and take that risk!
PS: Watch this video about starting a new life, and feel inspired to make a change, today!