- Nistha Dube is a podcast host, author, and speaker with a neuroscience degree.
- She’s part of a number of Gen Zers who are putting purpose over a paycheck.
- Dube said building a brand will help her create a career in which she’s less likely to burn out.
This is an as-told-to essay based on an interview with Nistha Dube.
When Dube graduated from college just two months after COVID-19 hit the US, she was forced to reckon with the life she’d set herself up for. Her degrees in neuroscience and psychology led her to job offers in tech and consulting. But feeling unexcited to pursue those career paths, she declined the offers to instead build a brand she felt had meaning.
Dube, 25, is among a growing set of Gen Zers putting purpose over a paycheck. She said that it’s worth it to build a career that she doesn’t feel burns her out — even if that means she doesn’t earn as much as she would have in the corporate world.
As a Gen Zer, I never wanted a linear career path
I studied psychology and neuroscience at Virginia Tech. I was interested in those topics, but I knew I didn’t want to take a traditional career path, such as going to med school. So a lot of college was about deciding what my unconventional career could look like.
That initially led me to tech and consulting, and for the first few months of 2020, I attended career fairs and interviewed at companies with that track in mind.
I got a couple of offers for jobs paying upward of $50,000. But all of this doubt kept creeping in — I was not excited about the opportunities and COVID-19 gave me time to actually think about what I wanted.
After finally admitting to myself that I wanted to build something of my own, the first step I took was creating content. I combined my studies in psychology and neuroscience to post content about mental health, mindfulness, motivation, and personal development. I started with YouTube, then moved to TikTok.
As I posted more often about these topics and my journey to pursue a career related to them full time, other young people started reaching out to me for coaching calls. They asked about how to build their own confidence and feel less stuck in their own careers or school situations.
Those coaching calls were my first monetized services. Some clients just wanted a space to vent about their career frustrations, but others loved learning about the neuroscience behind each of the techniques we use, including neuro-linguistic programming. It’s a type of thought-and-behavior technique people use that can help them reach a goal or desired outcome. Another technique is EFT tapping, which involves tapping acupuncture points with your fingers to aid in stress relief.
I don’t make as much as my friends, but it’ll be worth it in the long run
Along with posting on TikTok, I also host a podcast and do speaking engagements. I’ve also self-published a book. While not all of those opportunities earn me money, it’s about building this trifecta persona of “podcaster, author, and speaker” that will lead me to future opportunities.
I knew from the get-go that I’m playing a long-term game. I knew that I wouldn’t be making the same amount of money as my friends in corporate jobs and that I would have to make sacrifices, including not living on my own and not traveling whenever I want. But I’m privileged that my parents are willing to support me in these early phases.
What keeps me going is the fact that the longer I play this game, the closer I get to financial freedom. And when I do reach it, I’ll have built a career and a life I’m excited about — I won’t be watching the clock just waiting for the workday to be over.
If you’re a Gen Zer who turned down a job offer, we want to hear from you. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.