When Karishma Nageshwaran reached out to Dweebs Global, an organization I co-founded to provide free mentorship to people around the world, she had a simple ask—she wanted to improve her portfolio so she could get a good job upon graduation and to start feeling “significant.” She explains, “People have always looked at me as a young girl with small aspirations in life who is not bold enough to deal with the outside world. I’ve had to try to break that stereotype my whole life.”
As her initial mentor, I gave her suggestions on how to skill-build and apply to jobs in her field. Today, Karishma has joined Dweebs Global. She’s now a volunteer leading over 20 people committed to improving career development and educational opportunities for India’s youth. She’s also starting at Tata Consultancy Services as one of their top hires. “Had it not been for Dweebs,” she says, “I wouldn’t have been able to ace the interview at Tata.”
Karishma is only one of 2000 mentees and volunteers that Dweebs Global has impacted. Our story starts a bit before, last year in my parent’s attic in Virginia. We’re sitting around on the floor—the ceiling is not high enough for chairs—and just trying to fix a simple yet complex problem. How can we bring people together to help others when we’re supposed to stay at least six feet apart? I spend nights staying up, watching the death toll ticking up slowly, before we finally arrive upon an answer.
Our solution is simple—connect people who need career development or mental health support with mentors to guide them virtually over the internet. Before we know it, we’ve found mentees jobs, provided free skills-training, and even saved people’s lives. We not only have over a hundred Indian or Indian diaspora mentors, but we’ve hosted free college application sessions in India, bringing in admissions personnel from top global universities to universities like Punjab Agricultural University and BITS Pilani.
One major success in our work is fighting for India’s youth to have better opportunities. Within a year, we’ve formed three on-the-ground teams in North, Northeast, and South India. These teams work with local colleges, students, and parents to create pathways to jobs. Among our most innovative projects, we are working on using technology to lower child labor rates in Odissa. And the question we often get asked is how. How did we build this movement in a year? How were we able to help so many people in the midst of a pandemic?
But the answer to these questions is all within—within the word “we.” During the second wave of COVID alone, more than 10 million Indians lost their jobs. Our work is not done yet. We are made up of over 600 mentors and volunteers from around the world. We have a voice that is powerful and strong. We are ready to fight for youth in India and around the world. And we ask you to add your voice to ours.
Janani Mohan is Executive Director of Dweebs Global, an international nonprofit that she co-founded with Isvari Maranwe and Nathan Maranwe that provides free mentorship, career development services, and mental health support to anyone in need. Her educational background includes Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley and she has dedicated her professional life to public service in the government and nonprofit sectors.