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Ep 5: Starting work after 40: Kavita Kanukolanu - Dancer, Teacher, Project Manager

Updated: Apr 2, 2022




EPISODE SUMMARY


Hello, Sirisha here! Today's guest interview is with Kavita Kanukolanu. Join me as we follow her story of returning to work as a dancer, teacher & Project Manager. We talk about starting a career after a 10-year break, upskilling, transitioning from part-time to full-time, and beyond! Come, let's #paintlifetogether!


Follow us on Instagram @womencareerandlife and don't forget to listen & subscribe to the podcast here!


Below is a transcript of the episode, slightly modified for reading.


PODCAST TRANSCRIPT OVERVIEW


[00:51] - Kavita's story [Jump to section]

[03:37] - Starting a dance school...word of mouth [Jump to section]

[05:07] - Upskilling...Salesforce...Trailheads [Jump to section]

[06:58] - Support... Tribe... [Jump to section]

[09:35] - Note to your 21 year old self... [Jump to section]

Food for thought. Episode takeaways [Jump to section]


PODCAST DETAILED TRANSCRIPT


Kavita's story [00:51]


Sirisha

So today I have a very special guest. She's a dancer, a choreographer, a teacher, also a small business owner, and she's a recent career woman and let me not forget she's also a mom of two rambunctious kids. We introduce you to the everyday Rockstar Kavita Kanukolanu. Kavita, welcome. Thank you for being here.


Kavita

Thank you, Sirisha. I'm so happy and excited to be here.


Sirisha

I've kind of seen you transition through your journey. So I think it will be interesting for the listeners to hear your story. So can you start off with giving a little background about yourself and what you're doing today?


Kavita

I have been living in Texas for almost 20 years. Right now I am having the best time of my life. I am one of those women who started her career after she turned 40. She's not the one who started and took a break after 40. I am multitasking. I do dance, I teach dance. I'm actually a trained classical Indian dancer, which is Kuchipudi dancer, which is from the southern part of India. I'm also a project manager. I've been working for the past one and a half years, I started as a part time worker. Now I'm a full time employee with them. It's been a very interesting transition for me. Career has always been on the back burner for a long time because I had two young kids and I was a stay at home mom for almost 10 years. Now. I started working and multitasking all these things.

I am one of those women who started her career after she turned 40. She's not the one who started and took a break after 40.
I've been working for the past one and a half years, I started as a part time worker. Now I'm a full time employee with them, its been a very interesting transition for me.

Sirisha

I think that's what's fascinating about your journey. Like you said, you started your carrier at a later point staying at home 10 years. What made you go back to starting your career? What made you want to transition and how did you make that transition?


Kavita

After my daughter, she started going off to kindergarten, that's when I had to really figure out and think about what's next. For me, I was at a very different phase at that time, considering the fact that I did not have a whole lot of career experience to show to go back into the workforce was something that was actually pulling me back. So that's when I with a lot of encouragement from all my friends, I took that first step with dance. Once I started establishing myself as a teacher and started enjoying it. I felt very content and happy. But at the same time there was this unsatisfaction or something inside me that said I haven't done justice to all the education that I've had.


Starting a dance school...word of mouth [03:37]


Sirisha

So how did you start your dance school? How did you get students? How did you build your reputation?


Kavita

Dance school started when I started to teach my daughter. It just happened by chance. When my daughter was in an art class and I went one evening to pick her up after her class and there was this other another Indian lady. We both happened to be chatting away and then I told her that I was teaching dance. She was very excited And she wanted me to teach her granddaughter. It was just two students for almost eight months. My students, mom played a pretty good role,, I would say it was mostly word of mouth.


Sirisha

It's like a cycle, right? A bicycle, you have to start moving and pedaling, only then will you actually be in motion. You can maintain a balance and actually have a journey, and correct the course if needed. But if you never put your foot to the pedal and even start, you're not going anywhere. You have not started. So you just have to start, fall down a few times, have someone hold your back. I mean, I think that analogy, the bike is perfect. When you're thinking of starting anything, or doing something. So similarly, now, let's move to your, full time career. So what did you do to set yourself up? You're graduated with a master's in computer science, but not worked for a decade at least. So what did you do to refresh your skills? Or how did you go about that and go about finding the job.


A bicycle, you have to start moving and pedaling, only then will you actually be in motion. But if you never put your foot to the pedal and even start, you're not going anywhere.

Upskilling...Salesforce...Trailheads [05:07]


Kavita

So actually, my husband and I were part of a nonprofit organization called Save the Child foundation. I would help them in organizing any kind of campaigns and things like that. This organization was growing. So when, when our friend was trying to change in the way he would, things were working and so he started to implement Salesforce, and he needed some help with it. So he gave me a little guidance about learning it by myself on the trailheads of Salesforce, it started with that, sometime in 2015, or 2016. I started learning that at that time, in fact, but I did not pursue it aggressively, but it was always there. I love the fact that I could sit and learn this software or product. Once the pandemic hit, a lot of things changed. The dance school went online, I had a lot of time on my hands. For two and a half months, I studied, went ahead and gave my certification, which to my greatest surprise, I passed. But the next challenge was preparing a resume. My resume wouldn't have reflected any. I have a cousin who was looking for a part time worker, I jumped at it. Yes, I started as a part time worker from June 2020. By March of 2021, they were pretty satisfied. They were very happy. They needed to give more work and that's when they said we want you to come on board full time. Are you willing to do that? And I was ecstatic.

Learning it by myself on the trailheads of Salesforce. For two and a half months, I studied, went ahead and gave my certification, which to my greatest surprise, I passed.

Support... Tribe... [06:58]


Sirisha

I think that's a really interesting story. First of all, you got some flavor of experience from a nonprofit. So you tried some things, it looked intriguing. When the time came, you said okay, let me explore it more and you studied for it, you put the time and investment and you got your certification. So you know, that makes us all feel good. Right? An accomplishment is an accomplishment. It makes us feel very, I mean, pride in ourselves. Absolutely. Then when you started to look, you wanted the experience, no matter in which forum, you got it. So it's great that your cousin approached you and, you had that conversation. I think a lot of us are very hesitant to reach out to friends and family. And that is that awkwardness sometimes, and I'm glad it worked out. I think that's something for everybody who may be listening, right? If you have to have that conversation with your friends and family, it's not necessarily about getting the job, but finding out what they do. You could help them on something, it could be starting a school or whatever, it is a flavor of experience, because that's where we all get a helping hand and a foot to put inside the door. Once you're in the door, then you can make whatever you want after that. That's where as you said, you had that part time experience. People got to watch your work ethic, you got to get some experience and they really liked what you did. It's again, a sense of accomplishment and now it's been what a year and a half and you're leading a program. So you have your plate full. We kind of call it rocky terrain, right the first year transition with all the things going on just getting back to work. You're managing your schedule, you're trying to balance everything. Have you had support, like a tribe.

A lot of us are very hesitant to reach out to friends and family. If you have to have that conversation with your friends and family, it's not necessarily about getting the job, but finding out what they do.

Kavita

In fact, through every phase ever since I started the dance school or whatever it is, my friends and of course my husband. My parents more than anything you know, I am so grateful to my mom. There was an age where I was like why am I learning dance? I was too young to even understand the importance of that art form but she (my mom) never gave up on me. I'm so glad she did not at that phase of my life, her constant encouragement, and you know, all those things have always been there.


Note to your 21 year old self... [09:35]


Sirisha

So interesting, you've done so many transitions, different phases, than what some people might do. I think that in itself tells a unique story for someone to listen to. So this is a question I ask all our guests. What advice or quality, would you tell your 21 year old self for them to take through the next few decades?


Kavita

Just be yourself. Try not to procrastinate in the sense, try not to push things and say, oh, yeah, it's fine. I'll do that in a couple of years. Maybe not, not to do that. start your journey early on, so that, you know, you can have more experiences and try different things every decade. Having kids and trying to manage a career was something that I wasn't very comfortable on. It's a choice that I made but in retrospect, I think I would have done well, considering how I'm able to manage now.

Try not to procrastinate. Start your journey early on, so that you can have more experiences and try different things every decade.

Sirisha

Yes, I think it speaks to resilience, right? I think we're all capable of much more and it's not really about regrets at all. It's really about the hope. I think what you said is be yourself, you know you can do it, just saying hey, think about it, doing it. Now, you don't always have to wait and you can be more resilient than you think you are. If you are in that situation, you will figure out how to swim no matter what it is. I wanted to say thank you. It's been a great pleasure because you have talked about how you started with your dance school, just the pleasure you have teaching the kids, the high expectations that you've set for yourself, starting the career, figuring out what you wanted to do, how to do it, getting used to it and doing it really well. You know, when they come back and say hey, you want to transition full time, that's that's a great thing.



Food for thought. Episode takeaways

Here is today's food for thought,


  • I am one of those women who started her career after she turned 40. She's not the one who started and took a break after 40.

  • I've been working for the past one and a half years, I started as a part time worker. Now I'm a full time employee with them, its been a very interesting transition for me.

  • A bicycle, you have to start moving and pedaling, only then will you actually be in motion. But if you never put your foot to the pedal and even start, you're not going anywhere.

  • Learning it by myself on the trailheads of Salesforce. For two and a half months, I studied, went ahead and gave my certification, which to my greatest surprise, I passed.

  • A lot of us are very hesitant to reach out to friends and family. If you have to have that conversation with your friends and family, it's not necessarily about getting the job, but finding out what they do.

  • Try not to procrastinate. Start your journey early on, so that you can have more experiences and try different things every decade.


Resources Mentioned:

Similar Podcast Transcripts: Return to Work Season

Guest: Kavita Kanukolanu

Host: Sirisha

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Follow me on Instagram @womencareerandlife and don't forget to listen & subscribe to the podcast here!

Let's #paintlifetogether!


# paintlifetogether #womencareerandlife


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