Aliens with Visas

The Student Immigrant Journey

Multi media platform about student legal immigrant journey in America. Blogs, interviews, perspectives from students, professionals and lawyers. 

Alterbeat: An Unconventional Job Board

By Sandhya Ramachandran

Photo by Matteo De Grandis. 

If you have listened to episode three, you know my feelings about online job hunting. It starts out upbeat but real soon, it's downright humiliating. More often than not, a test of patience.

What do you find most annoying, personally?

a) Not enough opportunities in my field.
b) Opportunities in my field that require either 10+ years of experience or just a high school diploma. 
c) Dream opportunity but then it connects to a job site's hiring form that needs my employment work history manually filled in. The same kind of sites where after one hour of form filling, I click submit and the info doesn't save. Or one where the page nonchalantly goes blank because ONE box was unfilled. 
d) The part where I get hit with radio silence for several weeks after applying and now I'm having a one sided email thread with an automated response system for closure.

(Seriously, let me know in the comments section below!)

Jokes aside, we need a better system. Especially for those in unconventional fields, by which I also mean fields that do not adhere to conventional systems when hiring. Film is one area that comes to mind but the bracket can include football coach to social worker. 

Enter Alterbeat, an opportunity marketplace for alternative fields such as the arts, design, writing, social impact among others.

Founder & CEO Kaavya Gupta rightly mentions that currently, informal groups on existing social media platforms are the primary forums for sharing opportunities in such fields. Alterbeat in her words is a "strong, approachable and relatable" brand, that focuses purely on opportunities in alternative fields, and provides easy access through a structured platform.

"One of our key differentiators is that we curate opportunities, i.e. we only upload opportunities that either require a specialized creative skill set or provide significant exposure to an ‘alternative’/’unconventional’ industry. Therefore, we don’t upload every listing we get."

Since it's BETA launch in Feb 2016, the platform has grown mainly through word of mouth and organic reach. The initial few months required some outreach as employers were unaware of Alterbeat.com, but the service is now self-sustaining in terms of the job listings being uploaded.

Like any successful venture, they know their audience. "Most of us on the team also have a background or keen interest in the creative arts and are in Alterbeat’s targeted age group", says Kaavya. "Since we are part of the target audience, we have been able to create a platform that caters to the requirements of millennials today."

But how about the minds of employers? What are they looking for when choosing a candidate? An eternal mystery, I agree. 

"Besides creativity and the specific skillset required for the role, employers mainly look for an enthusiasm to learn. Regardless of whether the candidate has been in a similar role before, the willingness to keep an open mind and learn on the job excites any employer—be it in design, arts, writing or any other field. "

I take Kaavya's word for it only because Alterbeat directly engages with companies looking to hire.She adds that an eye for detail goes a long way in standing out and making "an impactful first impression".

(L - R) Kaavya Gupta (founder & CEO), Neeti Gadgoli (intern) and Meghana Koppala (intern)

Now to get a little into Kaavya's mind. She first thought of Alterbeat when she moved to Mumbai for work in the e-tail arm of Nature’s Basket, Godrej’s gourmet food division. "Although I had a day job, I wanted to continue pursuing my passion for music. The latter proved difficult in a new city, for people normally find opportunities in areas like music by reaching out to their network or browsing posts on social media groups." True. A lack of community leaves you crippled in many ways, we ought to know! The drive to follow her own passion led her to uncover another dimension to the day job reality of adult life:

People who wished to follow their passions had no way of testing the waters.
They weren't always aware of the opportunities out there and consequently, didn't have the confidence to leave their jobs and devote themselves fully to what they loved doing. "Employers seeking creative talent in these fields have limited reach as they are bound by their personal network and dependent on existing unstructured forums to find suitable talent," adds Kaavya. "Additionally, talent with specialised skill sets are dispersed, leading to a time-consuming hiring process."

I'm not sure if Kaavya ever got to pursue her musical interests (homegirl is a champion flautist!) but she sure as hell came out of that pickle with flying colors! Alterbeat was born and today, global organizations are already using the company's services: TIME Asia for reporters, Uber India for design managers, Dimagi for field managers to name a few. It was in fact the only start-up selected from India in 2016 for MaGIC, a four-month, fully funded accelerator program based in Kuala Lumpur.

Alterbeat.com now has 205+ clients across India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam.

I have to say, the icing on the cake would be if artists could also have flexible working conditions because the fact remains that improving as an artist requires a lot of time and effort. Commuting and staff meetings rob you of precious hours. I'm personally a big fan of remote work, working from home, freelance options and while that carries the tags of 'unstable and hard to come by', it seems like nobody likes forced commitment in any area these days. Could remote work be the way of the future?

"With the emergence of the ‘gig’ economy and changing working environments, remote work and project-based roles are gaining popularity among talent and talent seekers," says Kaavya (yay!). "For employers, gig positions enable them to recruit and off-board talent based on current requirements. Moreover, with evolving workplace dynamics and technology allowing individuals to connect like never before, the physical presence of employees is becoming less imperative. As long as work is getting done and deliverables are being met, employer satisfaction continues to stay high."

RIGHT? How about that. Just your work, professionalism and Skype or weekly in-person social skills taken into consideration. One can only hope this approach gets popular! 

If you are an artist seeking remuneration but also a fulfilling job that matches your strengths, visit Alterbeat.com. There's never a dearth of great opportunities. Some of them may not be relevant to you but are still bound to make you smile and have your faith in humanity restored!