Importance of making informed decisions: a chat with Aishwarya Hariharan

We are spoilt for choice in every single aspect of our lives

Let’s face it — today, we are spoilt for choice in every single aspect of our lives. More often than not, too many choices to pick from sometimes leads to bad decisions.

From clothes, channel subscriptions, food outlets, to schools, we are offered unlimited choices, every day. When presented with so many options, the process of making a decision sometimes becomes a stressful ordeal.

Amidst the many decisions we have to make, the decision about our career is an important one to get right. But instead of making an informed choice, many either defer it endlessly or make a hasty decision which can drastically alter the course of your life.

“In India, people finish engineering and then figure out what they want to become in life.”
- Every Indian Engineer

Take the 4 years of your college life. Roughly calculated that’s about 1460 days, spent on doing something you may not have liked. Those days and that time could have made such a huge difference to your future; if you had made a more calculated choice before jumping into a course. However, it’s never too late to change that path and move onto a new one.

Making an informed decision is a process. You need to explore in order to learn and gain insights into what you like doing and what your strengths are. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but it will equip you to make an informed choice without yielding to pressures.

“I wanted to be a perfume chemist,” says Aishwarya Hariharan sheepishly.

She currently works as a Product Marketing Manager at Freshworks for the Freshteam product.

“I was fond of chemistry during my 11th and 12th grade. My dad wanted me to do engineering but I preferred to major in Chemistry. However, my dad had studied chemistry in both his undergrad and postgrad and didn’t believe that it had much scope to pursue as a career. He chose Computer Science as my major instead. The four years of college provided me with clarity on what I didn’t want to do. Engineering simply didn’t interest me. I decided to utilize my time exploring extra-curricular activities.”

A lot of students complain that their chosen field is not what actually interests them. But that doesn’t mean you have to waste those four years. It’s the perfect time to explore other opportunities, pick up different skills, and find out what actually drives and interests you.

“I joined the editorial board of ‘Imprint’, Sastra University’s monthly newspaper. The paper started when I was in my second year and was headed by Arjun Das, my senior at that time. The way he got everyone together and worked with so much dedication to get the paper out the door was inspiring. A couple of us from my batch took up the responsibility the following year. Talking to people, getting various content pieces ready, structuring the posts, getting it together and pushing it out to the students was a lot of fun.”

Aishwarya goes on to say that being a part of the editorial board introduced her to writing and that eventually led her to take up a career in marketing.

“I really loved reading other people’s take on an event and helping them convey it better.”

Although she was initially into editing, her teammates encouraged her to write more.

“I believed I wasn’t a good writer,” she says with a laugh. “When I was in 12th grade, my second lowest grade was in English. The perception changed once I started working on various posts for Imprint.”

Thanks to her network, Aishwarya was already aware of Freshworks and the various opportunities within the company. She was keen on pursuing an internship in marketing.

“Back when I was in college, I had edited Ramesh Ganapathy’s article titled: Experiences at Sastra. He was working as a Marketing Analyst in Freshworks (or Freshdesk as it used to be called) at the time. He put in a word to my hiring manager and that’s how I was brought onboard to write. And writing I did.”

Aishwarya realized she really enjoyed working for the team at Freshworks. Telling a story to sell an idea was not only something she liked doing but also had a knack for. At that time, the teams worked across functions. So Aishwarya had the opportunity to work on a lot of tasks across both product and corporate marketing.

“My internship helped me build my confidence and figure out if a particular role suited me. Today, whatever work I am doing here, I find it very fulfilling.”

So if you think about it, it’s actually good that we are faced with so many choices, because more choices mean more opportunities.

If you are planning to study further, a thorough analysis of various subjects, the syllabus, and future job opportunities will help plan your career roadmap. Taking up an internship will allow you to test drive possible jobs and explore what works for you and what doesn’t.

You can then explore various verticals across the organization and assess what you like and where you can put your strengths to use. Also, it will help you build your network which will enable you to talk to professionals, dispel doubts and make an informed career choice.

It might seem like a lot of pressure, but honestly, it’s never too late to start introspecting, consider all the factors before you, and then make a decision; any decision. After all, it is your decisions that determine your destiny.