Thangachi’s Corner: The Elusive Career Path

CTYA’s Blog has started a new Feature every other Wednesday called “Thangachi’s Corner”. “Thangachi’s Corner” is a comfortable space to discuss relatable topics and issues relevant to the Canadian Tamil youth of today. For more information about this feature or to suggest a topic, feel free to e-mail us at!

Career Written By: Keerthana Raveendran

When I first told my family that I wanted to become an elementary school teacher, they thought I was crazy.

You see, up until a few years ago, my ambitions were directed towards medicine. During high school, I happily put myself through the three main sciences: Biology, Chemistry and Physics; and completed a Neuroscience degree throughout my undergraduate years, subjecting myself to hours of talking to the wall as I worked through the material, or otherwise, pages and pages of re-written notes in the hope that one of these rewrites, it’s going to sink in; as well as a subconscious, deep-rooted dislike of my alarm clock every morning.

And through all of this madness, I found myself not only tutoring, volunteering and mentoring, but doing so quite happily on an extra-curricular basis. So then when I finally came to my senses and applied to teacher’s college after graduation, it was due to a culmination of:

1)    No longer kidding myself that medicine is the career path for me;

2)    Having way more fun teaching through a program that had nothing to do with medicine, than is allowed for someone who was filling out applications for med and dental; and

3)    Meeting people who were far more capable, and most importantly, more motivated and passionate about the career than myself.

Because that, I found, is what’s important.

Not how much money you’ll make, not how great the degree sounds (Neuroscience sounded pretty brilliant at the time), not how “prestigious” the occupation seems, and not even how much your parents may brag about you to relatives.

The three, for lack of a better term, “traditional” jobs—doctors, lawyers and engineers—they have always been, and still are, hot commodities in our Tamil culture. And funnily enough, that has very little to do with the actual demand for the occupation in our community. Rather, there seems to be an unspoken notion that these careers are more successful than others, and that the folks that pursue them—well, they’re living life right.

Here’s the thing, though. We can’t all become doctors, lawyers and engineers. Nor do we all want to. Our society has too much to offer to limit ourselves within the constraints of these traditional jobs. We can be occupational therapists, political editors, roughnecks, intelligence analysts, genetic counselors…

So what if Amma doesn’t really know how to pronounce “genetic counselor” and tells Sithy that you’re a doctor instead? The point is: you’re doing something that makes you happy, and you’re doing it well.

Even post-graduate schools know about the importance of genuinely caring about the career you  pursue—they add roadblock after roadblock onto your educational path of gaining acceptance to not only their institution, but subsequently to the ultimate goal of your career, for the sole reason of weeding out the students who pursue it for all the wrong reasons. And I’ve gotten enough rejection letters to know that they almost always advise you to “Prepare a back-up plan”.

All of this to say what, exactly?

We are more blessed than our parents were back home. We have access to post-secondary education that they had to practically trade their left toes for. We can comparably find a job easily enough to pay back our debts and while we may want to, we do not need to pursue a career for financial gain. We live, for the most part, comfortably enough as it is. Instead, we have the luxury of choosing a career for deeper reasons—for the way it makes us feel at the end of the day, for the sense of purpose with which it provides us, for the sheer enjoyment of succeeding every day, and for that yearning to return another day and do good.

Why would we waste that?

So go ahead. Become doctors, lawyers and engineers. Or don’t, if that’s not your thing. But whatever you do in this world, make it count. There are many different types of intelligence, so use yours to its fullest potential. Every occupation is worthy of respect, so demand it for yours. And pursue a career that you are truly passionate about—something that will not only provide a stable income, but will serve as a vehicle for your inevitable success.

As for myself?

Well, let’s just say that there are enough dedicated, talented and passionate doctors out there already to bother with putting my half-baked self in the mix.

You’re welcome, World.

About the Author:

Keerthana Raveendran, known by her flock as Thangachi, is an aspiring author with an eye for the eccentricities of the Tamil Canadian culture. As an unemployed student with a mountain load of student debt, she is currently broke, so you will probably be able to relate to her. As a writer, she has a special kind of wit that is present on the page and absent during the awkward conversations you tend have with her in person. Thangachi is currently a Masters student studying English at York University.


Read More by Keerthana!


“In Remembrance”

“The Art of Tamil Cuisine”

“The Proverbial Culture Pie”

“High Risk, High Reward”

“They Call it Maanam”
“Who are they anyway?”
“Remembering our Literature”
“Society and Expectations”
“To my Tamil Friends”


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