Adaptiv People: Anita Nagarajan
Anita Nagarajan tells us how she went from a rewarding career in software to working as a successful communications and editing consultant, specializing in educational, scientific, and technical content.
Anita Nagarajan is living proof that this dream is possible. A successful communications consultant and freelance English-language editor and writer, specializing in educational, scientific, and technical content, she started her career as a software engineer at IBM.
What is your educational background?
I have a B.E. degree in Computer Engineering from the Government College of Engineering, Pune, India, and an M.S. degree (with thesis research) in Computer Science from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, USA. As a child, I loved and enjoyed learning many subjects—Math, Science, Languages, Social Studies,…and so, I went ahead and chose to pursue Math and Science first, and then majored in Computer Engineering because I was fascinated by the analytical and logical thinking required in the field, These years of formal education offered an enriching experience that equipped me with key skills for life.
Have you done any work in that field?
Yes, I have worked in the software and technology industry. Oh, the thrill of the first and second job offers! I was selected for a job at IBM Global Services through campus placements during my BE degree. I worked at IBM for a year, before heading to the US for further studies. After earning my MS degree and successfully defending my thesis, I was delighted to receive a job offer from Intel, a leading multinational company. During my (almost) 5-year stint there, I worked as a software engineer and then a team lead, developing device drivers and other code for Intel’s graphics team.
With such a good run in the software industry, what made you change your direction?
While things were going well at the workplace and in my career, I wanted to revisit the question I had during Grades 9 and 10—was there a field or career path that combined several disciplines? One in which I could learn about and use my skills and interest in language, communication, and creativity, in addition to the logical and analytical skills that I had acquired over the years through my education and work experience?
This time, I probed hard for answers. And I tried hard to look beyond existing walls. And I persisted and persevered to find possibilities.
While several factors played a role in my decision and actions to change my career path, one choice (and the resulting experience) may have been instrumental in my decision—signing up for French language courses at the Alliance Française, Bangalore. It was a complete game-changer for me. I met people from different age groups, who spoke various languages, came from diverse fields, and had different educational backgrounds. And I listened, spoke, observed, and discovered so much!
And I learned A LOT about language, communication, creativity, challenges, possibilities, perseverance, and dreams.
Finally, what made me change my career/field was the strong desire to work with people from different places, people who spoke various languages, people who were experts in different fields. And to learn from them all. And to help them understand each other—through effective communication.
What were your reasons for choosing communications as your second career?
I was looking for a career path in which I could leverage on and apply a combination of different skills and experiences, one in which I could use analytical and logical thinking skills combined with communication and creativity skills. One in which I could work on STEM subjects and in languages and social studies. One in which I could collaborate with and learn from experts in several fields.
I found this path in the field of editing. I began the new career path as an editor in Physical Sciences and Engineering, specializing in Computer Science and related fields. I helped researchers from universities across the world by editing their research papers for enhanced and more effective communication of their research work.
With in-house training and experience, I gradually progressed to editing research content for other disciplines. Then, I embarked on working with international non-profits and corporates to create and edit their content and communication material for public outreach, internal communication, and client/customer presentations.
With more experience, learning, and continued professional development, I developed and edited educational material for teachers and students. I also had the opportunity to conduct teacher training workshops in various countries and coordinate partnerships and collaborations.
Since the change, have you had any regrets?
None at all. I am grateful for being able to leverage on all that I have learned so far and continue to learn while helping authors, publishers, and organizations communicate effectively with their target audience. I am delighted at the opportunities to work with wonderful, talented, inspiring people from across the world. I learn so much every day—in Science, Technology, Math and Statistics, Language, or Social Studies. In critical thinking and analysis, in creativity and innovation.
I enjoy autonomy and flexibility in my schedule and work, while focusing on enhancing mastery and competence in specific skills. I also value the benefits of teamwork, collaboration, and exchange of ideas while working with experts from various fields.
Today, I am a communications and editing consultant, specializing in educational, scientific, and technical content. I offer content creation/development, writing, and editing services for the web, print, and social media to academia, publishers, scientists/researchers, non-profit organizations, and businesses.