Thanksgiving has always been a wonderful, albeit somewhat predictable activity for me — I meet my family, tease my little sisters, eat great food until I hurt, and talk about what I’m thankful for. Once I check all the boxes, I can collapse into a food coma. Thankfulness has always been part of the holiday, but it’s never been my primary concern. That changed this Thanksgiving.
My last few months were difficult. After getting a job at SocialCops in Delhi, I went back to the U.S. to update my visa. I fought hard to get myself back to Delhi, navigating the intricacies of the visa system (I nearly was refused a visa because the consulate misunderstood my application) while fielding questions from confused friends and family back in the U.S.
By the time I arrived in Delhi, I wasn’t sure if I had made the right decision. Moving away from family is always hard. Moving 13,037 kilometers away to pursue a startup job I couldn’t even define to my family — that’s a whole new level of difficulty.
To make matters worse, as soon as I got back to Delhi, I injured my ankle — a fully torn ligament that pulled off a chunk of bone — and contracted dengue at the same time. When I wasn’t navigating the Indian hospital system for two issues simultaneously, I was stuck in my flat. Moving more than a few times per day left me in pain. After my daily visit to the hospital, I’d fall asleep for three or four hours out of exhaustion.
Nine weeks later, these health issues have started to subside. I’m officially dengue-free, and my huge blue plaster cast has been replaced with a less-conspicuous blue ankle wrap.
With health and visa issues finally off my mind, I’ve been able to finally settle into my job. Just in time for Thanksgiving, I’ve been filled with an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and thankfulness. I love my job and I’m so thankful to be here, despite all the challenges. Here’s why.
1) “Wandering…is the discovery of the self” (Roman Payne)
I was hired in SocialCops as part of the Partnerships team, with a focus on helping non-profits use data effectively. That role lasted about one week. Since then, I’ve been encouraged to explore the company, try out different roles, and construct a set of responsibilities that really fits with my strengths.
In the process of experimenting, I fielded up to 300 customer messages each week, created proposals for companies like Unilever and the Gates Foundation, defined our company culture, overhauled our hiring strategy, started an open data series, revamped the company’s employee on-boarding process, wrote an ebook and published content across 13 of our 16 content streams.
I have little experience in most of these things. At the last count, I’ve learned 17 new softwares and tools since I joined SocialCops. For some of these tools (e.g. R and Hubspot’s CRM), I still have a lot to learn. For others (e.g. Lever, Instapage and Intercom), I’ve become the company expert.
I’ve loved this period of exploration. Though I’m finally starting to settle into a set role, I don’t feel a pressure to constrain myself to one team or another. Working across teams means that I can see connections between all the work we do, and choosing my own role allows me to customise my work to what I’m really good at. This sense of freedom to be able to wander and learn is something that I’m so thankful for.
For the record (and in case my parents are reading this), I think I’ve settled into a proper job title for now. My main roles are Content Conceptualization and Management within Growth and Non-Profit Capacity Building within Partnerships. Though, of course, it wouldn’t be a startup job if I didn’t also have some side roles — Hiring Portal Expert, Landing Page Builder, SEO Monitor, Ebook Writer, Employee On-boarder, and Slackbot Wrangler.
2) “To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved” (George MacDonald)
Inherent in my exploration was a sense of trust. As I tried out all these new things — in which I had little experience — my colleagues never hovered or micro-managed. This was true even as I mailed a newsletter to 5,000 contacts or published an ebook on data collection for global distribution.
At SocialCops, we plan together, then we execute solo. We plot out big strategies together — improve our organic search traffic through landing pages, bring ten new hires to the company, clarify client communication, develop better metrics around inbound traffic, etc. Then, if you take up a strategy, it’s yours. You can find help on Google or ask anyone on the team. But ultimately no one will babysit you. That strategy is yours to carry out when and how you think is best. (Though you better be ready to support your choices with data!)
I feel so thankful for the ability to carve out my own piece of the company and truly own my work within it. Of course, collaboration is a must, and I am forever grateful for all the help my colleagues have given me. But, even more, I am thankful to have been given so much trust to take up what I love to do and take an active role in shaping SocialCops’ future.
3) “Happiness [is] only real when shared” (Christopher McCandless)
I’m used to living away from family. After all, I’ve spent nearly five out of the last seven years living outside of the U.S. However, all this time and experience hasn’t made it any easier to be away from my family.
That’s why I’m thankful for my constructed family — all the people at SocialCops who I’ve gotten to know over the last four months. As a shy person, it took me a while to get comfortable with everyone at the office. But all our office activities — Friday demos, monthly town halls, games in the park, all-nighters in the office — helped me get to know everyone. And I’m so glad I did.
My SocialCops family has been an incredible resource, taking the time to teach me about everything from the best chaat near the office to how to integrate absolutely any application with Slack. They’ve also been an incredible support system, delivering food to me while I had dengue and bullying hospital administrators to get me an appointment with the best doctor. They only make fun of my Hindi accent once a day, which I take as a victory. If anything, that’s what I’m most thankful for!
Ultimately, I’m infinitely thankful for this opportunity. If you had asked me where I’d be at age 24, the last thing I would have predicted was that I’d be working at a startup in Delhi. Now I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.
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