I was at a panel discussion on Career Day at my daughter’s school today, when a voice at the back piped up with the question, “How has staying connected helped you?” Other panelists answered the question while my mind went into that cinematic flashback mode – you know those winding circles taking you back in time.
Sometime in the previous century… three schoolgirls in powder blue uniforms sitting on benches and poring over an atlas, dreaming about all the globetrotting they would do when they grow up. Me and my besties. Fast forward to farewells after college and moving to different cities. This was in the pre-internet era, so after a couple of years of dutifully sending snail mails, we lost touch with each other.
Spinning forward to the advent of the web, search, emails and after a series of miraculous connections (subject of another story), we got back in touch! Except we lived on different continents. We planned to meet for years and eventually flew in from different parts of the world to reunite in Greece. Best holiday of our life. We made a solemn pact to meet every two years in a new country and we have faithfully done so. L’ll Tarana joined us on our next trip to Singapore and they became the CATS – Cool Aunts of T.
That was one way staying connected with my school friends has helped me till date – Global Travel. Still the coolest travel pack and we make it happen, irrespective of the distance.
Travel is just a perk, of course. My class WhatsApp group is the most supportive and wholesome group that I have. Build good relationships in school and stay in touch with them – they will be your truest friends.
What about work, you ask? After all, this was a Career Day question. I applied for my first job through a newspaper ad, but after that, in my 37-year career across various companies and countries, I’ve never again applied directly for a job. I’ve always been referred to jobs by other people – a former colleague, or a classmate, or someone I met at a conference or someone aware of my industry presence.
My job in Singapore? Malini, a former colleague from CMC and a dear friend. My job in the US? A whole team of former colleagues who had joined a startup there pulled me over to join them. Thank you, Prasad, and Tata Elxsi –> Trillium –> Intel pals. I didn’t consciously “network” as that was not a buzzword in those days. I just talked to people, made friends, and kept in touch with them. Thanks to social media, it’s so easy to stay connected nowadays. Not with every person, of course. There are some people, very few, whom I don’t really want to stay in touch with. Do be a good human being, be nice to people. The world is small and you never know when things come back to you.
Ergo, pretty much my entire career is due to connections. Next point about the helpfulness of staying connected – Global Career.
I can write a whole other blog on how connecting professionally has helped me at the workplace and in getting industry opportunities – from speaking at conferences, conducting workshops to leading events.
And girls, do plan for a long and successful career. Life will happen, breaks may happen, but you can join back work, or find other ways to stay productive and fulfilled. Don’t hold yourself back, support everyone, stand on your own feet, be financially independent and have lofty dreams.
Staying connected helped us breeze through the pandemic without missing a beat at work. Deadlines were met, fun times were had and everyone was there for each other. We’re lucky, really. Talking to colleagues and friends, going out for a meal, celebrating events with family, all the myriad everyday ways in which we connect with each other, help maintain our emotional and mental wellbeing. That leads to the ultimate goal that all my fellow panelists talked about today: