Q. Tell us about a job you did not get or take. How did this shape your career path?
A. In 2015, I received a very senior job offer with full contract benefits and turned it down for a six-month contract at a lower level. I then took a "national" position, which was less prestigious and earned 60% less money with the India Country Office, so I could be with my mother after my father passed away. Everyone told me it was [a risky career move].
But the five years I spent in UNICEF India were among the best of my life. I felt a kind of contentment and satisfaction with who I am in making that decision that I think is rare. I learned more than I can express about the children and communities I want to serve, what marginalization looks like on the ground, and where the gaps are in the UN system in addressing those needs. I also met my partner in India, although he is American and I had lived for 12 years in America.
Moving from that "national" job back to an "international" posting was as difficult as everyone had warned. I applied for 31 jobs before getting this one. But this is my dream job, and I would have wanted it above every single one of those 31 jobs I had applied for. The process taught me so much about the landscape and what I wanted to do within it (e.g., focus on a sector like education) and also taught me tenacity and self-belief like never before.