From A Part-Time French Teacher To TISS Mumbai – Many Roads To An MBA
Till about two years back, I had no interest in Human Resource Management. In fact, I never even imagined myself in a managerial role! For as long as I can remember, I was interested in literature and social sciences. After completing my schooling, I had taken up English honours at Jadavpur University, where the eclectic curriculum makes it one of the best courses on English literature in this country. I had also been learning French since my school days and by the time I got to college, French had become my passion. All in all, you could say that I loved what I was doing! Midway through college, I was offered the position of a part-time French teacher at Alliance Française du Bengale. Although I had no previous inclinations towards teaching, I took up this opportunity hoping it would be a great learning experience. And you can bet your money it was! So when my graduation was done and dusted, the ‘safest’ career progression for me would be to take up teaching full-time. And that’s where the trouble began.
I had been teaching since I was 20. My supervisor and my students always appreciated my efforts and motivated me to work harder. So was I good at this job? Yes. Did I like this job? Certainly! But was this enough? Now that question was truly agonising! Like I mentioned before, I had never dreamt of becoming a teacher. And although this glove felt like it was meant exactly for my hands, I still felt like there was a puzzle piece missing. But at the same time, I could not identify a viable alternative either! When I graduated in May 2015, I accepted a teaching position in the city of Marseilles in southern France, fingers crossed for a fresh start!
I was set to shift in September that year. Before I nosedived into a new culture and working environment, I had three months of complete leisure at my disposal. Never one to sit still, I decided to ask around and see if I could take up any short-term projects in this interim. A kind soul recommended my name to Towers Watson India Pvt. Ltd., a very sought-after HR consultancy firm. They were looking for a French translator for two months and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time!
And so my love affair with HR began. My responsibilities included translating HR policy documents of TW’s clients and in a span of some 200 odd pages, I felt like I had been exposed to a wholly different universe. Previously, I had never imagined the complexity that goes into creating and upholding the culture and principles of an organisation. For me, the names of the biggest commercial organisations would always be associated with concrete buildings, share prices and the product portfolio, maybe the ad campaigns. But what about the backbone of the company, the people who breathe life into the idea of an organisation?
Even after my translation stint ended and I left for Marseille, I continued to read up about HRM, the idea of a new career path slowly taking shape inside my head. By the end of the year, there were two things I was certain of teaching, no matter how effortless, was not my calling. But maybe, just maybe, HRM was.
You’d think it’s a great relief when you finally manage to come to a decision that’s been plaguing you for so long. But how wrong I was! The minute I considered doing my postgraduate studies in the field of HR, it was like opening up a new can of worms. My work as a teacher had taken great momentum and I was quitting it to do a course, which I had no prior formal knowledge of. Was it worth the risk? When I told my parents I’d like to do an MBA specialising in HR, they were very surprised and said, “But that’s usually what engineers do, right?” When I told my friends that I would move back to India and take the slew of management entrance tests, most of them thought I was crazy. And at some point, even I doubted if I waere crazy! But I kept telling myself one thing. If not now, then when?
Thankfully, my parents supported me even when they failed to see my vision. My mother would silently give me cup after cup of coffee while I would struggle over quants and data interpretation sets. There were good days when I felt confident.
But most days, I didn’t. But when you sacrifice so much, giving up is no longer an option. So I kept struggling, one day at a time. And one fine day in April, my prayers were answered when I converted TISS, an institution I had only ever dreamt of cracking!
Three months into the course, I am glad I didn’t take the easier road and stick to teaching. Because I’m enjoying every minute of this course: be it classroom teaching or the novel fieldwork experience, TISS has given me much more than I could ever ask for. So all I can say is, never give up. Because you never know what good things await you when you try!
About the Author:
Saranya Mukherjee is pursuing her Masters in Human Resources Management and Labour Relations at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Previously she has worked as a French language teacher for two years. In her free time, she’s either travelling or hatching a new travel plan.