“Akka, neenga en inaiku school ku varala? ”(Akka, why, didn’t you come to school today?)
If there is even one day that Involve classes don’t happen in the school, this is what I hear in case I don’t turn up. And I get similar texts from our educators.
It all started in August when I was finding a right place to work. Working in the IT sector was not really what I wanted to do with my life and so I was on a lookout for opportunities till I found one. Involve Learning Solutions!
You must understand the kind of work that I would be doing here was very different from my last one, and I didn’t have any expectations since I didn’t have in-depth knowledge of education system in Chennai. All I knew from my 1 month of being a Volunteer here was the concept of PEER Teaching and how magnanimous this opportunity could be for school students.
But as they say, “If you really believe in something and you are trying hard for it, you will find a way”, and so I did!
Once I joined full-time at Involve, the very first thing that I did was assisting Awnish in approaching schools for partnership. The initial days were only about Awnish making the entire pitch and me staring at both of them, the Principal and him. I used to wonder, “how come he is pitching with so much confidence and that too to the Head of the school? (For me, I have to rehearse for at least 10 times before making an appearance in front of the principal: P)” So, I am basically an introvert and this hesitation was quite expected. But it was Awnish, who kept pushing me to pitch to the schools. There is this thing which he told me and I think it made great sense. “you will become comfortable only if you start & pitch several times. Trust me, nobody gets it right the first time”, he said to me. Gradually, I was doing more than okay! 🙂
“you will become comfortable only if you start & pitch several times. Trust me, nobody gets it right the first time”, Awnish said to me.
The best thing about working in a startup is that you get to try your hand at multiple opportunities. Once, I was quite comfortable with schools, my mentor gave me an opportunity to frame training modules for the Educators which I enjoyed a lot. The process was quite systematically designed as I first read through resources, made changes in the pre-existing modules and in no time, I was preparing them on own. But even though I enjoyed framing it, I was so afraid to take training in the beginning. Trust me, giving orientation/training in front of more than 100 high school kids is no joke! As always, he gave me all the hope to do more. I never thought this would turn out to be an overwhelming experience and when we got our first school and it was such an amazing feeling for all five of us.
Now, this was where I got into the classrooms and had hands-on experience. The real challenge had just begun!
At Involve, we offer after-school classes, and it becomes quite a task to get all the kids in the class and expect them to open their books. That too, when there is no teacher you are afraid of! It became a necessity for us to innovate our classrooms almost every day for the kids before they started loving it. Taking training and giving feedback for the senior students was quite a work in the beginning but later as I became a good friend and mentor to them, more than a school Manager, it gave both of us so much comfort and trust towards each other. Every time, I enter the class now, both the educators and learners come running to me saying “Akka, vandutengla inaiku ena pudusa introduce pana poringla?” (Akka, what is the new thing that you are going to introduce today?) Students became so affectionate day by day and started longing for the classes. At the end of the day, I think this is the reward for our work.
As for me, I know where I was before and where I am now. The growth which I can see in myself is huge and it is because of the constant feedback and the encouragement I received from my mentor. He is that one person who will always be standing behind to support me, to lift me up and say, “Hey! you did well.”
The ownership of the work that we have here is really good. During the team meetings when we discuss our plans, the thoughts and opinion of every individual in the team are respected and considered. I would say this is the biggest strength of our organization. And by the way, only when I am writing this, I realize I am the only girl in our group but I never felt like one and no one treated me any different. I can never ask for more. For me, Involve is like the light in the darkness. Every day, I go home and sleep peacefully with an extreme satisfaction. This is the place where I learn, grow and have fun at the same time.
Stop at this destination, if you are in thirst for knowledge and a great work experience.
Being involved in the work you do generally gives you happiness; Working in involve will give you the same ☺