Volunteering For SEEKHO Is a Life Changing and Career Building Opportunity
I had the pleasure of speaking to Sam Brundrett who is the head of business development for our non-profit partner SEEKHO (for content from the interview visit our introduction page) regarding his work for the organization. We then did an email follow-up on the impact of SEEKHO on him and the contents of that are below:
How does Seekho fit into your career plan?
SEEKHO has redefined how I think of business, entrepreneurship, and more importantly how and why organizations exist. Having been given, since the minute I became apart of the movement, complete creative license to pursue projects that I have felt are worthwhile, has been incredibly empowering. After being apart of this liberating culture for over 6 months I cannot see myself ever leaving. While I may leave Bishanpur and Bihar, I will never leave SEEKHO. I feel I have truly become SEEKHO and as such as I pursue an international MBA next year it will be with SEEHKO in mind. The decisions I will make will be, at least in part, dictated by the needs of the organization and the desire to expand our brand and culture.
What was the most surprising thing when you first started working?
Coming to India and working with SEEKHO has played an incredibly influential role in my life. Prior to December, I had never been to India, let alone Bihar, and my experience within the NGO/ Non-Profit industry was limited. Other than the cautionary tales of pervasive corruption, violence, and poverty that exists in Bihar I did not know what to expect. Yet, from my first days with SEEKHO, two things have surprised me:
- The first is that, despite the discouragingly low education levels in places like Bihar, there are an encouragingly high amount of resources and inputs allocated to solve this problem. Under the RTE, there is a school within 1km of every child in India and teachers are paid a more than commensurate salary while benefiting from at times strangling job security. Unfortunately, the existing model lacks a system for accountability, which results in poor attendance from teachers. Furthermore, when teachers do show up, I have seen that they are either disengaged or practice ineffective rote-teaching methods that do not encourage a positive culture of learning amongst students. As a result, students are also disengaged and attendance is also low. It is this abundance, but ineffectiveness, of available inputs that has most surprised me.
- In a similar vain, there is an incredible amount of latent potential in rural Bihar that it is at times overwhelming. From my first day in Bishanpur I was presented with such a diverse, intelligent, eager, and empathetic group of students, teachers, and changemakers that I was completely unaware existed. The depictions of Bihar’s disabling poverty and backwards society that were so vehemently described to me were dispelled. Regardless of the poor education system, the lack of support, and the lack of exposure to the outside world so many individuals exhibit inspiring potential and ideas. I believe that all they need is a little bit of support and a nudge in the right direction and they will be able to reshape their state.
What was the thing that convinced you Seekho was worth your time?
Engagement and purpose are some of the most elusive and fickle things in life. People can spend an entire lifetime in search of them with some less fortunate never tasting the soul quenching elixir. I was one of those people before I met SEEKHO. I struggled to find meaning until I experienced first hand SEEKHO’s incredibly supportive and empowering culture. SEEKHO’s culture defines its actions, relationships, and potential for meaningful and impactful work.
SEEKHO showed me how effective it was to leverage individual potential while establishing norms that formed a web of unity through deeply entrenched loyalty. From the onset it was apparent that SEEKHO was actually able to scrap the idea of organizational hierarchy and how intentional the organization was about maintaining high levels of autonomy and ownership in its members. Surprisingly, SEEKHO manages to simultaneously cultivate a sense of unity and singularity. It’s autonomous parts act symbiotically and collectively to strengthen the effectiveness of SEEKHO as a whole.
The presence of its culture is far-reaching and contagious and I felt invigorated from the start. I knew that nothing, aside from my parents, had ever made me feel as if I could conquer any problem that I was presented with. Feeling, seemingly overnight, that I had become an integral piece of a larger being that encouraged me to grow as an individual for the betterment of the group, I soon found myself using collective pronouns like us and we even when referring to individual thoughts and development. SEEKHO’s values of collective support and individual development are the “premium” fuel that propels individual confidence and creativity all for the growth of the organization. This culture that was able to immediately foster and established my personal integrality amongst a team of equally important and valuable parts is what made me realize SEEKHO was worthwhile.[Image Attribute: Seekho Facebook Page]