Career Conversations with D S Sangeetha

MASH Project Foundation (MASH) organised its first session of the ‘Career Conversations’ series on 22nd January, 2021. This is an event specially curated for starting constructive conversations and dialogue between industry leaders and young people. This session was designed for young students of Jagran School of Public Policy and International Affairs (JSPPIA), Jagran Lakecity University, Bhopal.

The expert of the session was D S Sangeetha, a Civil Servant. Through interactions like these, MASH aims to build awareness, key skills sets and create experiential learning opportunities for students of JSPPIA which will thereby create an ecosystem which enriches careers for young students in Social Impact, Policy and Development.

Sangeetha started preparing for civil services in 2005 and started her career as an Assistant Commissioner. She went on to take the position of the Deputy Commissioner, and is currently the Joint Commissioner, Customs and GST at the ministry of Finance. She is a perpetual learner and feels strongly about applying that to bring about a change.  The session flowed very organically with the young aspiring students of Jagran School of Public Policy and International Affairs (JSPPIA), Jagran Lakecity University asking a lot of their questions and sharing their thoughts. Ms Sangeetha shed light on her experiences and her journey in the Civil Services while answering every single one of their questions alongside.

Ms. Sangeetha set the flow of the session by talking about a job that can help you grow and evolve as a person and provides you with a sense of personal satisfaction. The concept of career is not a fixed preposition. Your present skill sets and who you are, fits into what gives you happiness on a daily basis and if not, keep an open mind to shift from the path you started on. She iterated that learning or education doesn’t stop at college or competitive exams. Your exposure changes your definition of career throughout your life. It is a myth that there is one career perfectly drafted for your personality. Life is a fluid concept and you keep learning, adapting along the way, and keep making choices that suit you best.

The session started off with a question on what inspired Ms. Sangeetha to pursue her career. She made a personal decision to pursue this career in college. She hails from a small town and had only one goal at the time which was to clear the exam. She had a job from which she had to resign to fully devote time to her preparation. She went on for the interview in her very first attempt which really gave her a lot of confidence. She added that there is a lot of social pressure centering around this career, but if you are passionate about it, you can sail through. Back in 2009, when information and networking wasn’t as widespread as today, she wholeheartedly chased her dream and things fell in place. 

One of the questions asked was centered around the qualities or attributes of a person in order to be successful to which Ms. Sangeetha explained that if one imbibes the good qualities and traits of successful people and incorporates them into their own personal journey, it shortens one’s journey to success. She elaborated that an undeterred passion to do something and your willingness to alter anything to achieve it are two common traits among these people, no matter which field they’re in.

She was then asked that UPSC being a hard nut to crack, should students have a backup or plan B, in case things don’t take the desired course. She then explained that even in order to fully focus on your goal, it is necessary to have back up options open. She added that even though it is a safe route to take, yet everything depends on the level of your preparation. She said the word ‘tough’ gets pacified with an equal amount of hard work. UPSC is a long journey and one is bound to experience highs and lows. UPSC being an energy sapping exercise requires a lot of enthusiasm. She mentioned the earlier you start the better, as this experience requires you to put your best foot forward by the time you are in the later years of your life, most of the enthusiasm is already exhausted. One must keep their goal in focus, stay positive, keep the zeal alive and overcome their insecurities. 

UPSC as a career is fulfilling and provides you with a sense of achievement. It requires you to network with a lot of people. The dynamic nature of the job is very contenting, offers a spectrum of opportunities under a big umbrella and gives you chances  to dawn multiple hats. Then, Ms. Sangeetha spent some time talking about what is needed if you are a UPSC aspirant. Firstly, understanding yourself. Knowing and playing with your strengths and being aware of your weaknesses is the first step towards self discovery in this career. Cultivating skill sets you need in a competitive environment is also a requirement for this profession. Secondly, developing a perspective on everything as thinking enhances your analytical power. It is not a day’s process but a habit one should inculcate. Develop your own perspective, don’t copy others’. What you bring to the table differentiates you from the rest of the crowd. Lastly, to maintain positivity at all times and not fear failures as UPSC is a long and tough journey.

While you can acquire different skills and be strong at some, there are some skills that go a long way when it comes to cracking UPSC. A good hold over communication and writing skills are really important for people in this profession. Being committed to your goal and working hard for it will land you closer to your end goal. Lastly, having an open approach and out of the box thinking can provide you with a lot of career advancement opportunities. If you identify yourself and your weaknesses appropriately, you can work on it and utilize your strengths to the maximum extent possible.

She concluded the session on a motivating note. She said what matters is taking concrete steps towards your goal on a daily basis, and conquering your fears. In today’s day and age, we live in a world where we have a lot of resources, connectivity, but one must filter out and make use of what adds to them and makes their journey more enriching!

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