Haydn Wilkins has a pretty impressive and diverse resume of Indian experiences. Experiences that he believes have taken him a long way in the early stages of his professional life. Asia Options’ new India Correspondent, Felix Pal, recently caught up with him to go through his Indian resume and see where it has led him.
The idea of living and working in India sometimes sounds difficult, impractical and without much opportunity for career advancement. So, it’s important to take stock of the success stories of young people, like you and I, who are building careers off the back of their India experiences. Haydn Wilkins is one of those people. He is a twenty seven year old Canberra based Public Servant with a fairly unique Indian experience. I was fascinated to know how his interest in India began.
“I was two when my family moved to India. My association with India began with my childhood, where I grew up in Mussoorie [in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand]. My family moved back to Australia just before I turned 10. I didn’t know initially that India was where I wanted to be, but India was my ‘normal’ before Australia. The Mountains, the temples, the dizzying array of colours, monkeys and the people honking cars were the norm for 8 years of my life. All pretty surface level things, but once you don’t have them and you return to flat suburban Melbourne, it all seems quite boring.”
With this childhood experience in India, Haydn utilised his cross-cultural literacy and built on it by attending the Australian National University.
“As I am passionate about India, I undertook a Bachelor of Asian Studies at ANU majoring in Hindi, which took three years of full time study. I then moved to India from July 2011-Dec 2013 and undertook more Hindi lessons as well as Urdu for the first time at Landour Language School”
While studying Hindi/Urdu, Haydn also had the opportunity to work in a well renowned Mussoorie International School in north India, a job he may not have been able to apply for had it not been for his strong Asian literacy and language skills.
“I worked in an International boarding school that looked after children. In order to apply for a position such as this, I needed people skills as well as a desire to work with high school adolescents. As a dorm parent, I was in charge of overseeing the care of students. Tasks would involve waking them up in the morning, ensuring that they got ready for school and had breakfast etc. Then once the students returned from school, I would hang out with them, play cricket, supervise study hall, as well as stop fights and discipline students. “
Far from being an impediment to Haydn’s professional career, Haydn’s Indian experience was crucial in opening up career pathways both in Australia and abroad.
“These experiences have been immense for me professionally. Both in my travels throughout the subcontinent, working in India, as well as in my interactions with overseas based Indians. This year I was fortunate enough to work for an American-based travel company and led a group of sixteen students on a community service trip to Rajasthan. We spent three weeks doing construction work at a government run primary school and taught English. I had to liaise with the local staff in the village about the projects and coordinate with teachers at the school. We also spent a week travelling around Rajasthan, which was a lot of fun and also a lot of work!”
I asked about whether he thought India was an exciting destination for professionals, he replied.
“I would absolutely see India as a professional destination. If you travel just outside of Delhi to Gurgoan and Noida, there are multiple MNCs offices that continue to appear. Working in India, definitely has its challenges, but that’s what makes it rewarding. It’s a place where not a lot of people can handle. Having the language component and cultural understanding did immensely improve my ability to work in India.”
Haydn’s experiences living, studying, teaching and working in India have equipped him with a unique skill set which combines language skills with cultural and professional literacy. These attributes opened the doors to international work opportunities and were critical to his successful entry into the public service. Working in India can be scary but overcoming the challenges it throws up is an invaluable professional recommendation to any potential employer.
For more inspiration on engaging with India have a look at Why You Should Learn an Indian Language, Asia Option’s reviews of Hindi schools in India, including Landour Language School or the number of opportunities in our India Options getting started page.
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