I don’t have a career plan, and the paths my career has taken would drive a career counsellor mad.
But then again, I’m the kind of idiot who thinks this to be a good thing.
But there are two things I have done in my career that fill me with genuine pride. One is this blog. The second is the undergraduate program at the Gokhale Institute. The first is a solo endeavor, the second was very much a team game – and both are creations, not certifications/titles. Both are my attempts at making the world a better place, and on reflection, that is my career plan. To chip away at making the world a slightly better place.
And for that second reason, leaving Gokhale Institute this year was a bittersweet emotion. But not just because of that secon reason. Gokhale Institute is, to me, a very sacred place.
Gokhale Institute was, is, and always will be home for me. I have played in the campus as a kid, I have walked hesitantly into the library as an undergrad student at Ferguson, and I have done my Masters and my PhD from there. I have taught at least one course over there every year from 2010 onwards, and I hope that record lasts for as long as possible. Some of my closest friends today were batchmates with me at GIPE, and my wife is a subset of this group too.
I am not a professor of economics in the conventional sense of the term. I am not looking to have a great publication record when it comes to academic journals, nor am I looking to attend conferences to present papers. Not, to be clear, because I think those things aren’t good things. But because that is neither my calling, nor my comparative advantage.
My calling, as best as I can tell, is teaching. I revel in the “ohhhhhhhhhhhhh!” sound that students make when they realize the relevance and the importance of a concept. I love taking what seems like a difficult, irrelevant and abstruse idea, and slowly breaking it down so that students understand both what it means and why it matters. I love recommending books, blogs, videos, podcasts and tweets to students – and often at a scale that they simply cannot think of finshing in a semester. My job, as I see it, is to help people learn better.
Because one sure-shot way of making the world better is by helping more people learn better. And the younger your audience, the better. Ergo the undergrad program at the Gokhale Institute.
And for all these reasons, having to leave the program, and the Institute, was (and is) so bittersweet.
I’m still teaching, of course I am. That is, after all, my calling in life. I’m teaching even younger folks than undergraduate students, so at least along one dimension, I’m doing even better at my personal goals. And in some ways, I hope to double down on this blog (and related efforts) in 2023. So teaching continues, thank god.
But knowing when to walk away is an important skill in life, no matter how bitterwseet your emotions. Being clear about your reasons in your own head helps, and writing that post helped me achieve just that.
And so that post was about the following:
- An important call regarding my career (if one can call it that)
- Helping me make clear to myself what my reasons were for leaving
- An au revoir to all the students at GIPE (not just the batch it was ostensibly addressed to)
- An au revoir to my favorite college in the whole wide world.
And for all these reasons, So Long, Farewell was my personal favorite of 2022.