In one of our first editions of Career Wise, we got the chance to chat with Pavita Singh, MPH, about her many exciting careers.
- On her career:
Professionally, I currently work three jobs. I am the Director of Content & Communications for Konversai—on online knowledge-sharing platform that connects knowledge providers with knowledge seekers on any topic of interest through one-on-one live video conversations. I am the Director of Programs & Outreach for Girls Health Ed—a nonprofit that works to provide accurate and comprehensive health education to girls and young women, especially in low-income, underserved areas. Finally, I have my own editing business called pavEDITa, where I do copy, line, and content editing for any English written content, be it school essays, dissertations, novels, marketing material, or college applications. I also take on freelance writing projects, primarily on topics related to health and wellness and women’s empowerment.
- On her education:
I have my Master’s in Public Health from Yale University, where I concentrated in Social & Behavioral Sciences. I did my undergraduate degree at New York University, where I studied Gender & Sexuality Studies, Linguistics, and Child & Adolescent Mental Health. I thoroughly enjoyed my schooling experiences, from the stimulating classes I took to the relationships I built with classmates and professors to the hands-on work I got to do in the community. My education has enriched me personally and professionally. The most challenging part of my education was my struggle with anxiety and the pressure I put on myself about my grades. Overtime, I became more adept at coping with my anxiety, and I am blessed to have had a supportive network of people who helped me to do so.
- On what inspired her:
I got into public health out of an interest in mental health and combatting culture stigmas towards mental health issues. My own mental health experiences inspired my professional path. When pursuing my public health degree, I came to appreciate the interdisciplinary nature of public health and how it really encompasses all areas of my life. I have also always had a talent for and interest in writing and editing, and I was able to combine my public health interest with my writing and editing interest through an apprenticeship program with elephant journal. I also consider myself a Renaissance woman with diverse passions, and I relish in the opportunity to explore them all. Doing so eventually led me to my job at Konversai, which truly allows me to be a student of life and to delve into multiple subjects—whatever I happen to want to explore at a given time.
- On the good and bad of her job:
The best part about what I do is that I have flexibility to pursue multiple areas of interest at once, which allows me to be well-rounded. I also have flexibility in terms of how I manage my time. In many ways, I get to “be my own boss.” In addition, the impact that my work has makes it fulfilling. I feel like I can bring all of myself into my work, which makes for an ideal personal-professional balance. A current challenge in my work is funding and not necessarily having a predictable income flow, but that is often the nature of startups and being your own boss. But I have faith that this is only a temporary challenge.
- What did you wish you knew when you were starting out?
My experiences have all reinforced the idea of being open to what you do. You never know where an opportunity might lead. Also know that you’re not going to get along with everyone in the workplace, but this should never stop you from pursuing what you want to do wholeheartedly, and you should never compromise on your personal values.
- Tell us about a fun or crazy experience you had while working.
My most recent fun experience was traveling in Kenya as part of Girls Health Ed. I gave workshops to over 200 girls at a school in Kilgoris, a remote village about 6 hours outside Nairobi, and Kibera, a slum in Nairobi. The girls grapple with such issues as female genital mutilation, child marriage, and lack of access to sanitary products. I conducted workshops on self-esteem and self-empowerment and menstruation management with these girls. It was a transformative experience. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I would be able to spend three days in a remote African village with limited Internet access and access to all the modern conveniences to which I am accustomed. But I did, and I enjoyed myself. This experience made me stronger and brought me out of my comfort zone.
- On discrimination
Yes. On September 14, 2008, I had a severe panic attack that warranted a 911 call. When the paramedics thought that I was experiencing a physical malady, they were sympathetic. When I was able to talk and explain to them I was having a panic attack, their attitude changed to one of condescension. This negative attitude continued even when arriving at one of the world’s most reputable mental health facilities. The stigma I experienced towards my mental health disorder was a motivation to work towards mental health stigma eradication.
- On downtime:
I love napping, dancing, yoga, art, eating good meals, going on the swings at the playground, walking, talking to and spending time with friends, and watching TV.
- Finally, some advice from a woman who’s been there:
Laugh a lot. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Live in the moment and embrace the opportunities that present themselves to you, even if you do not see them as directly related to your career or what you studied. Be yourself. Trust the universe—it knows what it’s doing, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers or people from any and all walks of life. You never know where a conversation might lead.