FROM LIVING IN INDIA, TO STUDYING IN BOSTON, TO INTERNING IN NEW YORK
By Riya Haria, Copywriting Intern, Digitas Health
In the 20 years of my life, I have lived, studied, and worked in three cities and two countries. For 17 of these years, I resided in Ahmedabad, India, where I was raised. I came to the United States just three years ago. Everything from the languages, the people, and even the work culture has varied vastly within each place I’ve been.
In the U.S., when people hear I am from India, they immediately think I’m from Mumbai or Delhi. Perhaps these cities are the “Manhattans” of India. It’s rare people know of my hometown and where I come from.
Ahmedabad is by no means a small town. Ironically, it has the same population as New York City. Yet Ahmedabad natives consider our town a “small town,” with a small job market and even smaller social setting.
Known as the “entrepreneurial business hub of India,” Ahmedabad is known for its culture of startups and family-run businesses that have been established for generations. Be it the sweet shop by the river or the city’s largest Industrial company, everything has been the same for years.
Due to growing up in this small-town environment, everything I have ever known about a city life and work culture changed when I came to New York City.
While New York is the city that never sleeps, Ahmedabad is the city that sleeps at 9 pm.
While you see different faces every day in New York City, each face is familiar in Ahmedabad.
While New York City is comprised of people from all over the world, Ahmedabad is made up of families that go back generations.
While New York has a 9 am to 5 pm work day where people rely on coffee to get through the full day, Ahmedabad’s work day starts when you want it to, and you can work on weekends if needed.
In 2016, I started school at Boston University. I started to apply to jobs in my third year, and based on my upbringing of choosing the path of your own family’s business, it would be expected of me to become an entrepreneur like my parents. Despite this cultural norm, when I decided to work in the advertising field and applied for internships in my junior year, my family gave me their full support. They urged me to pursue advertising, and they understood the importance of gaining mentorship and exposure in my chosen field.
Holding on to this advice, I started my internship at Publicis Health in June. I learned what it meant to “intern with purpose,” and I was exposed to an entirely different, more dynamic working culture than I’d seen before. As a copywriting intern, I learned hard skills such as writing headlines and taglines. I also learned the importance of discipline, order, and independence through living and working in New York City.
Whether it was mastering the subway, filling out my own tax forms for the first time, or pitching with my team to a non-profit client at the end of the internship program, learning and working by myself in the “Big Apple” has helped me to achieve a sense of independence that I would never receive in the shelter of my hometown.
I’ve come a long way from my small-town upbringing. In taking this major leap in my life and moving to New York City, I’ve gained a roommate — and life-long friend through sharing a cupboard-sized apartment and paying a fortune to do so. I’ve conquered the power outages due to heat waves in the city. I’ve seen more rats than I have people. But most of all, I’ve been exposed to a new and exciting work environment, and I’ve learned what it means to intern with purpose.