A 19-year-old who creates her own opportunities

Oh, to be young again, and to have this ‘world is my oyster’ worldview, thought Vinaya as she interviewed Reshma. Reshma, who also goes by a pseudonym that she uses for social media, is a smart, driven 19-year-old who values quality time with a small circle of friends and family over meaningless interaction with large groups. Her childlike enthusiasm and ambitious confidence are infectious.
Read on to find out more about this young woman…

Reshma Joly, 19 years, Student, Pune

Interviewed by Vinaya Kurtkoti

Why did you decide to give us an interview on your career goals?
The first year of college was disastrous because in school back in Cochin I had a lot of opportunities to showcase my talent and abilities. My school reading moulded me and really pushed me to do what I wanted. But here I was, one in a million, and I felt very suffocated because I didn’t get an outlet to put myself out there.
So I decided to do something on my own because of lack of opportunities. I’m a typical Leo in the sense that if there are no opportunities for me, I go create them for myself. I love to write, so I decided that it’s time to showcase my work.
I created a magazine called ‘Looking Glass’ which is probably the world’s first magazine to target a psychological demographic. I’m a very childish person. I don’t like growing up and being responsible. The biggest compliment you can give me is that I’m childish and immature. All the content out there is very grown-up. Everyone is selling content that promotes this idea that you’ve to be an adult in the way you talk, the way you move, and the way you cook. So my magazine is all about having fun and taking pride in the fact that you are childish and preserving that. Childhood is not something to look back on but it’s a state of mind. Creative dissatisfaction and frustration led me to create this magazine.

So, you’re 19 years old. Where do you see yourself after college? What do you want to do?
I come from a very privileged family, so I think education is very important. I have the privilege of not having to drop out of school, so I want to continue learning because I love, love, love going to college to learn. So I see myself going to Singapore or Canada for further education. But I’m not one of those kids who’ll go out and be a part of the brain drain. I want to come back and invest everything I have in my own country.
I see myself doing so much more education-wise because I get bored very easily. I don’t see myself doing just one thing. I have to be able to multi-task and be able to do a lot of things on the go.

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What kind of things do you see yourself doing?
I see myself growing my brand, first and foremost. I want to do something different. I see myself baking a lot of cakes, maybe, and putting on some weight because of that…(laughs). I see myself interning at places like the UN, because I’m very interested in charitable organisations.

What kind of charities interests you?
I’m interested in causes related to women and children. Recently, I made a website for a disabled school nearby as part of an internship. The website is for the school to be able to sell their products online so that they can be financially self-sufficient, because that’s important. More than education, I think micro credit is more important for empowerment. Women and children causes really fire me up.

Is this a part of your course?
No, it’s voluntary.

So, you’re studying BA?
Yes, BA in Liberal Arts.

Why did you choose to do a BA in Liberal Arts?
Predominantly, it’s because I hate math (laughs). In 11th and 12th I was a humanities student, so I didn’t study math, though I took up economics.
Whenever I do something, I remember something my mom told me as a child. She said that whatever you do, you need to ensure that you stand out otherwise you’re just one among the crowd. That stuck with me so much that all my choices – education-wise as well as personal – I’ve always made sure that I do them differently. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be different as well.

What about the other students in your class? Do they also have similar motivations to set themselves apart?
To be honest, I’m an ambivert. I like my space. I don’t interact as much as I would want to… maybe that’s why I have a fake Facebook account (laughs). I would like to believe that my classmates are good people but I’ve had a really tough time with college. I had a disastrous first year, maybe because it’s my first time staying away from home. I didn’t have a guardian or anyone to show me around.

Does your course mandate that you collaborate with your classmates for projects?
Yes, yes, group projects are the bane of student life in India. They make you work with people you don’t want to work with. But you delegate work and get through it. There’s nothing much you can do.

(ALSO READ: A Career Dilemma Of A Millennial)

So has that led to friendships?
It’s not like I don’t have friends. I have two great friends who are my pillars of strength back in Pune. They are really supportive. I consult them before I do anything. They are mirror images of my two sisters back here in Cochin. But for me, time is of the essence and I cannot spend time with a large group of friends because I want to invest my time wisely and spend quality time doing the small things I do with a small circle of friends and family.

Tell me about the exchange programme in Germany?
Yes, the college sent an email to the entire student body asking if anyone is interested. I am very ambitious and want to achieve my dreams, no matter what. So when this email was sent, I was one of the first people to apply. They called for an interview, and I was really confident during the interview. I knew that I got in before they even told me about it. Some people may find this cocky, but I just think I’m confident (chuckles).

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Are you looking forward to Germany? Is this your first time out of India?
I’m a person who hates travelling (laughs). I’ve seen Europe and I’ve seen many parts of the world, thanks to Dad, but it’s not the travel or sightseeing or food that excites me. It just excites me that I’ll be able to mark one item off my checklist. I’m able to set my mind on something and get it, that’s what’s exciting about this.

I agree, that does sound very exciting. Okay, the last question has nothing to do with your interview topic, but we ask everyone we interview – does love mean to you?
Love? I think for me, love is my mom and dad. I’m a hybrid, in the sense that I’m a product of my Mom and Dad’s most epic inter-caste and inter-faith love story ever told. Both their families obviously didn’t allow them to get married, so they had to elope to get married. You only hear about it but never come across these kinds of people in real life. I feel incredibly, I don’t know…honoured? I’m blushing as I say this. That’s love for me, and that’s what I look for. Whenever you talk about it, you need to feel a rush. I feel that love should be the fuel to whatever you do.

Categories: Career

Meet the interviewer

Vinaya Kurtkoti

Vinaya Kurtkoti is a Pune-based freelance copyeditor and journalist. She enjoys talking to people and listening to their stories – whether they are about old, lost friendships or why they cannot use prepaid mobile connections anymore. Anything you say can and will be used in your interview. Like her favourite fictional character Dirk Gently, Vinaya believes that everything is interconnected (some things more than others).

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