What do you do?

Shubha BalaShubha Bala is a Canadian living in New York City.  She wears the iron ring of Canada’s engineering profession and was one of the original architects of Engineers without Borders.  After three years on a traditional engineering path, she returned to school – to put an academic foundation under her original passion for economic and political development as well as the media. 

Shubha graduated from Columbia with her Masters in International Affairs at the height of the recession into unemployment.  In a recent blog post, she writes to her peers who have found themselves – after grad school — in the same place.  It’s the place where people ask daily “what do you do?” and your response carries the invisible weight of conflicted emotions.  Shubha concludes, however, that the work of unemployment comes with unexpected benefits including greater vocational clarity:

“Unemployed, I saw how difficult it can be for people, people worse off than I, to get what they need during the times they need it most. I have, and continue, to devote my education, my career, to trying to create institutions that allow people to live with freedom.  But during that time, I also felt how important individual support was: food banks, scholarships, mentoring.  I saw that no real change can happen without people first being able to live each day.”

Unemployment is hard work.  What makes it a lot harder or a little easier?  What have you learned from doing this work (or from observing others) that informs what you do each day? 

(By the way, Shubha is employed now.  Her new job draws on her education, work and other experiences to help people find their digital voice through the Media Development Loan Fund.)

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