Femme #3: Monty
What do you do for work now?
I am a UX-focused content strategist. Currently, I am getting ready to start a new role in an IoT startup as UX Writer. I also freelance as a content consultant for startups and small businesses. I am the founder editor of an online journal on food culture, Clay Pot, and, I also write features for a few digital and print publications. At Femme Palette, I write and edit the blog.
What is the path you took to get to where you are now?
I come from India, where we have a very ‘conventional’ way of going about our lives and careers. You finish school, get a professional degree (read engineering, medicine, law etc.) and then start working in the same field. So in that respect, my career path was a bit unconventional.
I finished my Masters in Economics from India and started out as a research assistant in an academic institution there. Within a few months, I realized that although I loved Economics as a subject, I wasn’t happy working in this field. I always enjoyed writing, so I decided to give it a go although I had no formal training in it. I applied to India’s biggest newsweekly at the time and got my first real job. I started in the newsroom as a Trainee Sub-Editor. I was editing articles, collaborating with designers to layout pages for the magazine and I really had the time of my life!
I enjoyed what I did, but I really wanted to write more. I also wanted to move to a bigger city. So I was transferred to Bombay, the biggest city in India, to write about films, food and culture for the magazine. Most of what I know about writing was picked up from this job. I met so many interesting people, made some long-lasting friends and was living the dream. And, then, I got selected for a film criticism workshop in Berlin. This is where the idea that I could write for international markets dawned on me. From then, it was a roller-coaster ride. I freelanced for a few publications and helped some startups with content marketing. But soon, I also got married and moved to Prague!
In Prague, I took up a content marketing role at a fintech startup called BudgetBakers. Here, I further honed my content marketing skills and developed a keen interest in UX and product writing. It felt like every job I did before this was meant to prep me to become a UX Writer. I learned more about UX and took up projects that would help me create a portfolio. Currently, I am getting ready to move to Munich to take up a new job as UX Writer in an IoT startup.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned along your way?
The most important lessons I’ve learned are:
You can always learn new skills: Throughout my career, I have always learned new skills on the job. Although what I learned at college and university did help me develop a perspective about the world around me, my career has always been built with the skills I picked up while working. So don’t shy away from such opportunities.
Make good connections: Never lose out on opportunities that let you meet new people, even if they are only online. And, once you have made a connection, remember to stay in touch with them. For instance, I had reached out to one of my college friend’s friend, who is a UX Writer now, to speak to her about the industry and her role. That was when she told me that she had seen this job posting online. And, that’s the job that I’m joining next week.
Don’t be afraid to express interest in projects you love: I believe that we shape our careers and lives on our own. If a project interests me, I try to find out how I can contribute to it. Even if some of these projects may be done pro bono, the contentment of working on something I love or believe in makes up for that gap. For instance, when I saw Femme Palette on Instagram, I reached out to Lucie and Klara and told them I would want to be a part of the team because I believed in their mission and admired their passion. So don’t be afraid to reach out, because sometimes we have to create our own opportunities.
Showcase your work and document your process: This is something that has helped me a lot at every stage of my career. Especially while I was attending interviews, I found that this helped me not just present my work samples to prospective employers, but also get a clearer idea of what my thinking was at the time of each of these projects.
What does your typical workday look like? Have you developed any routines or habits to stay productive?
I do not have a typical workday. I am most productive after 11 am, so I try and schedule most of my writing work after lunch. Before that, I try to finish off most of the administrative work, which doesn’t require a lot of thinking. I take very few breaks, which has always affected my productivity. So right now, I am training myself to take more breaks.
How do you know it is time to move on from a particular job or project?
When I know that I am not going to learn any more from that job; when I feel like the tasks I have are not challenging anymore; or when I feel like having me or not having me on the team would make no difference, I would move on from a job or project.
Who has inspired you and helped you in your journey till now?
The list is really long. In fact, my husband was the one who encouraged me to try out writing professionally. He is someone with great ambition and passion towards what he does. And, I’ve always been the opposite. So he has been a great source of support to me, reminding me to challenge myself and inspiring me to be more ambitious and passionate.
Next, my family. My parents are first-generation professionals, who come from very modest backgrounds, but studied hard and built successful careers for themselves and a comfortable life for us. Although they weren’t happy with some of my career choices, I am grateful that they always made it possible for me to get access to the best opportunities.
Then my friends from school and college, and the girl gang from my Bombay Office. Even though we’re all in different countries now, doing completely different things, we take out the time to talk to each other and motivate each other.
What brought you to Femme Palette? What has been your experience till now and expectations from the community?
I had been living in the Czech Republic for over two years when I heard about Femme Palette. And, I really wished Lucie and Klara had started Femme Palette earlier. I loved the idea of connecting with like-minded women because until now, the women I’ve worked with have always supported and helped me get ahead in my career. And, to be honest, as an expat it is really hard to make good friends in a city like Prague if you don’t speak Czech. So that’s why I joined Femme Palette.
My experience has been wonderful ever since I joined. I attended a few networking events and made some new connections. Above all, it’s a pleasure to work with the uber-talented Femme Palette team. I hope Femme Palette keeps inspiring women to get better at what they do, be confident in seeking out new opportunities and learn to value themselves for what they are. I also hope that Femme Palette expands its horizons beyond Prague and the Czech Republic.
Go-to productivity tools/apps
Trello (to organize work and personal projects), Google Sheets, Calendar and Drive.
Favorite blogs/podcasts you’d recommend
UX Collective, Shopify UX, Dropbox Design, Slack Design etc (for UX Writing related content); The Financial Diet, The BillFold (for basic adulting stuff); Wait But Why, Brain Pickings, The New Yorker, Lenny Letter, Ladylike, As/Is (for all-round awesomeness); I also follow some great illustrators on Instagram like Truth Potato, Chris Hallbeck, Beth Draws Things, Poorly Drawn Lines and Fowl Language Comics.
Woman you look up to and why
Too many to name. Off late, I have been reading a lot by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Otherwise, I admire anyone who has followed their dream and helps others do the same.
Reach out to me on Linkedin