When Taking a Different Path Leads to Self-Discovery

by Shalini Datta
Jul 31, 2015 12:45 PM ET

AfterTaste is a partner of Cisco CSR. Cisco sponsors The Huffington Post's ImpactX section.


When we choose to work in a field not conventionally connected to our educational qualifications, it's nearly impossible not to be confronted by the thought, "You are not using your education, your knowledge," from time to time. I am a chemical engineer who worked in the software industry for nine years, before becoming a full-time teacher in a low-income classroom of 75 kids for two years, and am now a grassroots social entrepreneur. Each time I face that thought, I remember a line that I read couple of years ago on a Teach For India poster: "You can take everything away from a man but not his education."

Born into the family of a doctor father and a giving mother, my upbringing infused in me a sense of service and a culture of respecting knowledge. I chose to pursue a degree in chemical engineering and after my final year I took a job with a software company. As a software professional, I learned to analyze, design, optimize, and adopt a solution-based approach. Whether it was analyzing the business requirements that formed the key input for the design of a module, or improving the performance of the existing search component, or identifying the possible causes for a bug and fixing it, my work taught me that every problem had a simple solution, and by adopting a methodical approach I could come up with the right one.

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