A Double Life

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Tanushree J Mulraj Recounts the Agony and Ecstasy of Being a Professional While Being a Student

Until the age of 13 I never managed to get good grades. Quiet and shy, sitting in the corner of the classroom and eating lunch alone, I was quite the outcast. As soon as I hit my teens something changed and my grades shot up! Don’t ask how, don’t ask why, by the time I got to the ninth grade I was at the top of the class and the trend continued all through my college years(thank God for that or I’d definitely be kicked out because of my zero per cent attendance record!)

I was never really into attending lectures in college. Lectures could get long and boring and the classes were always empty. The real action was all outside. HR College was known as the ‘outstanding college’ – Everyone was always standing outside! I was known as a nerd but I like to call myself a different sort of nerd. I loved reading but loved partying even more! While in my first year of college I started my first internship with a PR firm in Mumbai. I was a people’s person and PR, at the time, seemed a good choice for me. A month of that bored the life out of me as I realised it was not something I wanted to pursue as a career and I quit and started working for Red Bull instead. A friend who worked for Red Bull at the time kept telling me what a fun job it was(and decent pay for a college student) and put me through the HR department. After an easy interview, where I was asked to sell my Nokia phone, I was accepted as a part of the Red Bull team!
Working with Red Bull for six months earned me my partying money and also helped keep me busy as college used to be for just about four hours a day. It was a great experience and a lot of free Red Bull! After six months I decided to do a professional course in DJ’ing. I traveled to Borivali almost daily but after four months I had mastered the art of mixing on turntables and also started playing for a few parties in Mumbai. What started as a hobby thanks to my endless love for music ended up taking me to Belgium and Amsterdam! I was offered to play at a party in Belgium and it was one of the best DJ experiences I’ve had!
My second year of college turned out to be more serious as I realised my keen interest in capital markets and started interning with various banks and financial institutions. Working with companies like Morgan Stanley, Motilal Oswal and RARE (the Buffett of India Mr Rakesh Jhunjhunwala) is not something every college student is lucky enough to do. This gave me an idea about where I wanted to be later in life and how companies work.
By the time I was done with HR College, I had interned with seven different companies and was a professional DJ! I started studying for my CFA exam right after that, simultaneously looking for a job which, due to the recession, wasn’t an easy task. It took me a long time and a lot more internships to finally get a job in equi ty research. I worked with a broker in India and while I was there I was offered a job in Hong Kong! I instantly agreed to move my life there and am writing this article while munching on my lunch at my desk!
I’ve always been known to be spontaneous and a bit crazy but this was the craziest thing I’ve done. Moving to a place where you don’t know a soul and don’t speak the language is no easy task. I hadn’t even been here before I moved! I was offered this programme for a financial magazine which is extremely well-recognised across Asia and given my background in finance I thought I could give it a shot. I hadn’t planned on moving here but and it was just a spontaneous and random decision taken in the spur of the moment because something inside me told me it would be worth it. The more I spoke to people, the more confidence I got about this being the best learning experience of my life.
Initially, it was scary but I now work full-time for a financial magazine and am also studying for my CFA exams along with taking the GMAT (I then plan to end my education with an MBA from a top B-school). Hong Kong has tons of opportunities for professionals who want to continue to study and I plan on doing a part-time masters at Hong Kong University (HKU) next year!
Each and every experience has a lot to teach you and you learn things from every person you meet in life. I am an active networker and a blogger and also tweet @eerhsunat (It’s my name spelled backwards!- I like to think I’m funny). Hopefully I’ll make it to HKU for my masters, get a 700+ score in the GMAT, finish my CFA next year and get an MBA from Harvard. Who knows? Meanwhile, I’d like to work hard and party harder… cause that’s what life is about!

-Tanushree J Mulraj

Volume 1 Issue 5

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