Hi, and welcome to #TalkbackTuesday. This week’s interview is with Ms. Pranita Bhat Shanbhag. See her interview below.
Talkback Tuesday is a weekly interview with everyday people. It is always inspirational to look into the life of another person, and realize it is just as complex and large and confusing as your own.
1. For the readers, who are you, what do you do, and what is your current side project?
I’m currently the “Chief-Everything-Officer” of KnowYourStar – an education startup a couple of friends and I started in the year 2012 after we graduated from MIT Manipal as “Engineers”!
It started as a website where we interviewed and published inspiring stories of role models. The motive behind this was to create a portal that can cater to students (like we were) who wish to convert their passion into profession. 🙂
5 years and 2 full-time jobs later, I’m glad I have taken the plunge into this labor of love full time along with 3 amazing friends! 🙂
There is no side project currently. My side project has now become my central project! You can say my side project is now my inner transformational journey. 🙂
2. Can you tell me more about KnowYourStar? What do you hope to achieve with the organization?
So KnowYourStar is now officially registered as a Public NGO Trust, which is an important milestone we have managed to achieve. Though it started off as just a portal, we gradually moved on to positive journalism, which means we did not just stick to inspirational role model interviews, but also shared stories of inspirational social initiatives we came across and thought needed some exposure.
We also addressed diverse educational topics like Mental Health, Disability, LGBTQIA etc. which are not taught in school, but should form a very important part of the curriculum, because we all know kindness is something this world is very much in need of!
So that’s the content side of it. But soon, we had a calling where we felt that only students with internet connectivity would be able to access our stories. What about the rural and underprivileged? We wanted them also to have a share of our pie, which is when we started going to rural schools in the outskirts of Bangalore to share our role model stories. But that’s when we realised their problems lie much deeper, and we started tackling them first, which led us to starting our on-ground initiative – Mentor India.
We addressed diverse educational topics like Mental Health, Disability, and LGBTQIA which are not taught in school, but should form a very important part of the curriculum.
Mentor India platform creates opportunities for students to hone their skills and align their passion with profession. We work with underprivileged and rural school children to ensure that they realise their true potential. 🙂
So with KnowYourStar what we really want to achieve is help students (and people) convert their passion into profession with the right guidance and education.
3. You said you graduated as an engineer in 2012. As someone who understands that it is not for everybody, what advice do you have for young students who fall in the Bermuda triangle of engineering-medical-commerce?
I think now there is much more awareness about different career options available to students. I would advise them to first have clarity on what it is they really want to do. It’s very easy to mistaken your hobby for your passion. Not all hobbies can be converted into a profession. So talk to people, research on the internet and list out professions that you would like to pursue, and then find out the corresponding courses to take. With that sorted, the main challenge would be to “convince your parents” and help them “convince Anu Aunty!” 😉
“Follow your heart” is a cliche today, but I vouch by it. I have personally followed my intuition more than anything else, and it’s never wrong!
4. So as someone who follows her intuition every day, what does a day look like for Pranita Bhat? What is your daily grind and what brings you pride every day?
Every single day in my work – life is full of unpredictability. I have thrown my planner out of the window! I’ve not been able to stick to any long-term plans. I have realized that the need to stick to plans makes you blind to the potential awesome outcomes that can come with constant churn and change! Like they say- Change is the only constant, and all the magical things always happen outside your comfort zone.
My current work demands me to always be out of my comfort zone. While my mind craves for the familiarity, my heart is just dancing away! Every day is different, and every day I don’t know what’s in store for me the next day. So I can’t say how my day looks like, but I can tell you how my days end. Since I started doing what I love doing, I have always had a peaceful sleep at night. 🙂
Knowing that my work is (or potentially will) touching many lives in direct and indirect ways is a very gratifying feeling. I love this quote by Martin Luther King Jr. which goes – “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” This is the question I ask myself every morning and align my work to it.
5. Great. Finally, do you have anything you’d like the audience to explore? It can be a business or movement, or it could be anything from a video to an idea.
We have recently adopted a school in Vignan Nagar, Bangalore called Brindavan Tent School. This school has 40+ students from 1st to 4th Std studying in the same room with one teacher. The room has broken flooring and unhygienic surroundings. While the teacher is trying her best being a one-woman army, lots has to be done for this school and the students. Every Saturday, we run a volunteer event called Volunesia in this school.
We have recently adopted a school in Vignan Nagar, Bangalore called Brindavan Tent School. Every Saturday, we run a volunteer event called Volunesia in this school. We are in dire need for volunteers who can show up on Saturdays and help us.
At Volunesia, volunteers get together to perform various acts of service which come under the ‘Education’ umbrella. From making art and crafts or painting schools to mentoring underprivileged students or teaching them a skill, each of our Volunesia circles is dedicated to a theme that is useful to the students we cater to as part of our Mentor India program.
We are in dire need for volunteers who can show up on Saturdays and help us. So if this could be a plug for your article and it will help get some dedicated volunteers onboard, nothing like it. 🙂
Thank you for reading Talkback Tuesday! What did you think of the interview? Leave your comments below.
Subscribe to the blog by entering your email at the bottom of the page for a new interview every Tuesday.
Next, check out the previous interview from last Tuesday with Rupen Paul by clicking on the image below.