Seeking Happiness and Independence
Abinaya’s story of how her journey from school to work liberated her life.
Abinaya grew up surrounded by academia. Her mother is a Tamil teacher, her father works in the accounting department of a college and her sister is pursuing an education in biology after receiving the Junior Research Fellowship from the University Grants Commission. Abinaya herself scored 197 on 200 in Tamil in her Class 12 board exams, a feat she counts to be amongst her greatest achievements.
It is no wonder that the switch from being a student to being a working woman was unsettling for her. “It was only after I started working that I realized the difficulty of transitioning away from being a student,” she rues. “I didn’t realise there would be so many responsibilities in a full-time job.”
It was as an undergraduate student of English Literature that Abinaya realised her interest for computers. Recognising her interest, her father suggested she qualify herself in the field and Abinaya found herself enrolled in GITI Salem to become a computer operator. Inspired by her mother’s go-getter spirit and never-say-die attitude, Abinaya decided to follow her father’s advice. Today, she works as a trainee in the marketing team at Aerospace Engineers Pvt. Ltd., a company that specializes in manufacturing spare parts for aircrafts.
Talking about her childhood, Abinaya confesses to having had a fairly sheltered upbringing. “My parents take care of everything,” she admits. “Other than drawing the kolam outside the house, there is little that I am responsible for.” Yet, this comfort has not dampened her desire to soar. Abinaya dreams of emulating her mother one day. “My mother is the only woman from our family who got herself an education and a career,” she explains. “Everything she has achieved has been on her own merit. I have a long way to go but I hope to be like her one day.”
Enrolling herself at the ITI and getting a job was Abinaya’s first step towards this dream. Even though she did not enjoy her work at the beginning, she says she warmed up to it. “It took a long time to adjust to my job. Socialising and talking to my colleagues was very difficult,” she recalls. Yet, over the last few months, Abinaya has overcome her discomfort and grown into a confident, self-reflective version of herself. Over her time at work, she has learnt to be aware of her strengths and improvement areas, and understand her own abilities better. “I am happier than I was before,” she confides.
This sense of confidence seems to be a recurring theme over the last few months of Abinaya’s life. While her job taught her to be confident in communication and networking, she credits the employability skills curriculum taught at the ITI for instilling confidence in her to dream and work towards her goals. “Even today, I am learning to dispel my fears and I am lucky to have the guidance of my ITI trainer on this journey.”
It is this sense of confidence and fearlessness that Abinaya believes is integral to every woman’s ability to be independent. “Without a job, women will be stuck at home always dependent on their husband or father. Having a job helps feed an answer to everyone who wants to know what you are doing while also enabling you to see the world beyond the walls of your home,” she explains half in jest.
The last year has been a period of steep learning for Abinaya. During her time at the ITI, she not only learnt the basics of computers and coding but also how to be confident in her own skin and dream higher. When she joined her workplace, she had to learn not only about the different components of the aircraft but also how to be patient, where to adjust and when to speak. Coming from a family of academics, this has been quite a journey for Abinaya. Today, the 22-year-old has her eyes set on a simple goal that she is doggedly working towards – independence and happiness. Every day is another step in that direction.
Abinaya works as an apprentice in the Southern Railways and earns Rs.15,000 per month. Her job involves addressing grievances of railway employees. She attributes her ability to listen to grievances with empathy and address them effectively to the employability skills curriculum taught at her ITI.
R. AbinayaApprentice, Southern Railways
“Without a job, women will be stuck at home always dependent on their husband or father. Having a job helps feed an answer to everyone who wants to know what you are doing while also enabling you to see the world beyond the walls of your home.”