Imagine a world where you can experience your fields of interest before diving headlong into it. Sounds like a safe (and well-informed) bet, doesn’t it? Thanks to Alister D’Monte and his initiative, Unherd, this is now possible. Through this, the 26-year-old based out of Bengaluru partners with a multitude of corporates and non-profits so the young and restless can learn from mentors before joining courses of their choice – a choice that he notes, he didn’t have.
“I remember going with the flow. Once out of school, everybody wanted to crack the IIT and CET. I did too. Until I was in my second year of electronics and telecommunications engineering and realised that I didn’t want to do this,” he confesses. Alister was creatively inclined – “I’d have picked advertising, music or design otherwise,” he tells us. But a question always lingered at the back of his mind – ‘What if I could go back to school and experience the field I want to be in before taking a call?’ That’s what led him to find Unherd.
Interestingly, the name connotes not going with the flow. They have two models – an experiential learning session where students get to experience the field of their choice. Another one is the mentorship model where students get to speak to people from the industry every week via the magic of technology. “To ensure that students were actually interested, I created a pilot session launched in December 2016. We partnered with Salesforce, a multi-national cloud computing company and received applications from across the country. We even had an intern join in from Allahabad,” says the Pune-born. Alister also roped in his lawyer, doctor and engineer friends to mentor kids from low income schools like Parikrama in Bengaluru. Right now, he single-handedly runs a free ‘Girls in Tech’ programme and a ‘Design for Change’ programme with Gensler that sees 15-17 year olds interested in design work with architects and designers to build a low income school in Whitefield. “I make sure the application process is gruelling to check on the interest levels of those applying and their communication skills – so they can interact and learn where they go,” says Alister.
Having followed his passion for art, he even worked as a freelance illustrator before he decided that the need to make informed decisions was far too important. “We hope to at least have 20 mentors and mentee by next month, and introduce newer fields like gaming, music, dance and filmmaking. We’re also in the works of taking some of these programmes to Hyderabad and Mumbai,” he explains. “I once had a student of Parikrama (originally from the North East) come up to me and tell me that he thought design was a hobby and didn’t think that it could make money. I want to change that,” he says, eyes firmly set to the future, a head ever buzzing with ideas.