The night I met advertising

“What makes your heart sing?”

Summer of 2016: 2 years into my engineering and one of the fortunate awardees of the Summer Research Fellowship by the Indian Academy of Sciences.
This meant I was amongst a handful who had the opportunity to work with renowned scientists at an Institute of national repute. I was going to be on my own for the 2 months, in a part of the country I had never visited before.

This is the story of my quest looking for answers to “What makes your heart sing?”

Day 1
2:30am
Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad

I am barely a day into my summer internship and I had spent over 16 hours in a Biomaterials Research Lab. This is how shit was done in the real world.
Experiments took their own time. Slacking away for few hours meant weeks of hard-work would cease to exist.

I was thrilled!
My lab had a Rotavap machine (research lab equivalent of a entry level sci-fi level gadget), great coffee and some absolutely brilliant folks who were to be my mentors for the next 2 months.
I thought I was going to love it.

Travel and love for Biryani were two things I shared with my fellow intern — Naren

Day 15
12:30pm
Biomaterials lab, IICT Hyderabad

It had been 2 weeks for me on my project.
“Formulation And Testing Of D1 Lipid- Chol- Triamcinolone Liposome As Cancer Cell Specific Transfection Agent”
I understood what it meant :)

But something was missing.
While the coffee and my mentors were way more exciting than I anticipated, the Rotavac didn’t wink arousals at me anymore. Everything felt (unbearably) monotonous.
I could see my fellow interns were having a great time with their experiments.

I tried again, course corrected myself. And few more weeks of honest hard-work led me to a realization — that I was not cut out for this.
Research meant something else altogether in the real world.
It was terrible for my taste. Comparable your first crush telling you they don’t like the idea of having romance with you, in-front of your friends.

And then something happened.

Day 28?
1:30am
Biomaterials lab, IICT Hyderabad

I am waiting for the experiment to finish.
I had spent the entire weekend watching Stanford 2005 Commencement Address on loop.

“You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

This had stayed with me since then.
Only problem was I hadn’t realized yet what it was that I really enjoyed doing? What made my heart sing?

The question drew me back to a conversation several months ago with Rachit. Background context: I had been contributing in a very small way to help with designs and layouts at his venture — Conquerem as an intern. He has been instrumental in guiding me on my career and had suggested I should look Advertising as an option. The suggestion had stayed with me but I never looked it up. (Read log kya kahenge?)
Until that night at the lab, when I discovered my first ever advertising case study.

I was fascinated.
I absolutely loved it.
I realized my declining interest in Rotavac’s existence was soon compensated by marketing case studies.
I loved how brands were built. I loved how sharply focused communication nuances were. This made my heart sing.

Cleaning up delicate glasswares and spending long hours in a chemistry lab was never easy

Marketing, Coffee and Formula 1 keep me up at night.