Here at TNM, we provide a core group of contributing editors with a platform to inspire people with words, tips, and their real world advice. This month we are featuring some of our amazing contributing editors in the Tell Us Your Story: Contributing Editor Series here on our blog. These editors are the people who create new content for us to share with you on a weekly basis, and now it is your chance to hear their stories.
We start with Juhi Bhatt, a dedicated Student Affairs Professional and Assistant Director of Student Affairs Compliance and Title IX Investigator at Rutgers University.
Juhi Bhatt, is like a lot of us. She has a strong work ethic, strives to make a change, and aspires to love the work she does every day.
She is a young woman in the professional world trying to find her calling. Now, Juhi would say that she has found a career that is both fulfilling and utilizing her strengths.
However, as for many of us who have found our niche, that was not always the case.
When Juhi was younger, she wanted to be a veterinarian.
She was always interested in working with animals, , and so the thought of going down the veterinary path felt right for her. However, things changed sophomore year of high school when Juhi learned she hated - and wasn’t the best at - science and math. Added to this was the fact that her chemistry teacher in high school told her daily she was not good at science. Juhi began to believe that without strengths in the areas of math and science, she would not be able to get into vet school and began wondering if her goal was attainable. Like many people experience, it was time for Juhi to go back to the drawing board, to be honest with herself about her strengths and create a new future path.
After this discouraging realization, Juhi turned to another one of her passions: music.
She wholeheartedly threw herself into her music courses, and soon her private music teacher suggested she major in Music Education. Juhi never realized this was even an option, and could not have been more excited. She attended The College of New Jersey and graduated with a bachelors in Music Education. At that time, she wanted to teach K-5 music, but the year she graduated, 2009, was the year the economy plummeted. It was extremely hard to find a full time job as there is usually only one music teacher per school and teachers were rethinking their retirement plan. Juhi could only find a part time, one day a week music teacher position. So in the spring of 2010 Juhi went back for her Masters in counseling with a concentration in student affairs in higher education from Montclair State University. Juhi graduated in May 2012 with her MA and was lucky enough to have her internship position at Bergen Community College turn into her first full time position in student affairs.
Now, while working on her Doctorate, Juhi worksat Rutgers University-New Brunswick as the Assistant Director of Student Affairs compliance and Title IX. Juhi notes that while she has good days and bad days, as most of us do, she recognizes the value in her work and enjoys working in student affairs. Juhi notes that working in Title IX is very emotionally draining at times but her ability to be involved in other areas of student affairs coupled with the importance of this work make it all worth it. Sometimes, while working as the Title IX Investigator, she doesn’t feel like she is making a difference on the day to day, but knows she is working toward an important common goal.
On Joining The Niche Movement
When Juhi started following The Niche Movement, she loved reading about others finding their passions in their careers. Since March of 2016, Juhi has been a dedicated member of The Niche Movement community. Juhi appreciates having the space to learn from others experiences and hopes that readers learn from her journey as well. The goal of TNM already fit one of Juhi’s main goals: to show students and others that it is possible to love what you do every day, so it was a natural fit. Regarding the newfound popularity of dialogue around career happiness, Juhi, along with many others believes that “one could make as much money as possible but if they aren’t happy with the work that they are doing, and they are miserable going to work every day, then what’s the point?” It seems that there are more people comfortable talking about unhappiness within their job, which inspires others to be more comfortable with this similar dialogue, in the hopes of finding career happiness. People have noticed that when unhappy in a career, their work and then self-care begins to suffer. There are so many people now who talk about how employment happiness and being passionate about their work impacts career longevity. Others could see this happiness, want to be that happy, and begin to question why they aren’t that happy yet. Statistically, Juhi explains, “you will spend over 100,000 hours of your life at work. So do you want to make those hours happy or miserable? What can we do to make work something to be passionate about? Why is work sometimes a ‘have to’, rather than a ‘get to’?”
Juhi’s Career Advice
When I asked Juhi what advice she would give to her college freshman self, she started with “Don’t let one course or grade or assignment or class be the end all be all”. Juhi still wonders sometimes if she could have gotten into veterinary school but she’ll never know because that one class and one teacher stopped her from pursuing that dream. She now works with her students to make sure they know what they are capable of and how the opinions of others should not discourage them from pursuing their dreams and seeing if they are, in fact, attainable. This is one of the reasons Juhi is a firm believer in making sure her students feel encouraged by her and not discouraged when they tell her their passions and dreams. There is a constructive way to have the necessary conversations our students need to hear sometimes. Though Juhi is not on the path she originally planned as a kid or even five years ago, it’s the one she landed in and truly believes everything happened, and will continue to happen for a reason. She suggests to others to explore all areas of their passions and to not close any doors. “You may not know what exactly you want to study and that’s okay. As long as you pursue your passions and are happy,” she says, “you can always readjust, and make some life changes.”
For all of us, we have options. From becoming a veterinarian to teaching music, to working in education, Juhi continued to challenge herself and reiterate her professional ambitions. As she works on her doctoral degree, she knows she has a long successful career ahead of herself as long as she continues to fine-tune her strengths, ambitions, and pursues her passions. If you take one thing away from Juhi’s story, remember these three pieces:
1. Constantly evaluate your strengths. Whether it is through self-reflection or in conversations with your supervisor, advisors, friends and family, be sure to do this on annual basis at minimum.
2. Take action. As Juhi landed into education, she continued to fine-tune and narrow down the field she was passionate about , where she felt she made the most impact, and one that utilized her strengths. Now, she is working toward a doctoral degree, which requires sacrifice, early mornings, and a lot of writing. Oh yea, and plenty of caffeine.
3. Find a community. Juhi has created a personal brand and reputation for herself outside of Rutgers. She is involved in several communities and organizations that align with her passions, professional interests, and long-term career goals. Remember, it’s all about putting yourself out there and building relationships.
Tune in soon for another addition to the Tell Us Your Story series. If you feel compelled to use The Niche Movement as a platform to tell your story, or want to be featured in the series, email firstname.lastname@example.org.