Early childhood was a bit tough for me. There were times when my family couldn’t afford to pay my school fees. But I still made it through to college and I even landed a job! During my college years, I used to see other students going abroad and having the opportunity to pursue higher studies. Attempting something like that was impossible for me, but I still had that dream to cross borders and equip myself with international education.
When I began working at PayPal in India, I was selected into an apprenticeship program where I was given the task of conducting employee training. I was facilitating trainings back-to-back, and about four months into the program my managers called me into their office and gave me a challenging assignment. PayPal had acquired a new Canadian company called Hyperwallet, and I was to go to Canada and conduct a training session for their employees. I was a bit shocked because I had just started, and they were giving me this great opportunity to visit Canada and all I could think was What?? Are you guys serious? Why me? Not only was I training their employees, I was also the first PayPal representative that the members of Hyperwallet were receiving – meaning I was the first person to represent my company’s values and culture. I had about 2-3 months of self-preparation and my bosses supported me during this time.
When I left for Vancouver, Canada I was so scared. Here I was travelling all alone to a North American country, where I didn’t know the culture, everything was new, and there wasn’t room to make any mistakes. On the day I landed and I met the Hyperwallet team, all my insecurities and fears just passed away because I was grounded in reality. I didn’t need to be scared anymore. I knew that I had to exceed my managers’ expectations because it wasn’t easy for me to receive such a wonderful opportunity, and I had a responsibility to prove myself by delivering my best performance.
The two weeks of training went extremely well; I was very comfortable with the employees and they seemed to be quite content with me. Once I returned to India, I walked into my office and I was welcomed to rounds of applause from my colleagues. So many emails were flying into my inbox, all of them congratulating me on doing a great job in Vancouver. The training had gone really well because the participants’ feedback had travelled through their managers to mine, and it was all wonderful feedback. I was absolutely drenched in happiness and all the applause they gave me.
It was at that moment I realized that if I could deliver my job in a new place, without any backup and all alone, why shouldn’t I be able to pursue my dream in a new country? What was stopping me from trying to pursue my dream in Canada? Absolutely nothing. My experience in Vancouver gave me the strength and confidence to believe in myself and know that I was capable of applying to higher studies abroad. It completely changed the way that I perceived myself. I realized that my managers believed in me so much, so then why was I unable to believe in myself? It was the breakthrough in my life that I needed to give me that final push. In January of this year, I began my journey at Sheridan. It wasn’t without its obstacles, but I knew that all that I needed to do was try.
(Interviewed and written by Hazel Mekkattukulam; photo by Nolan Brinson)