HT Brunch Cover Story: Course corrections

How Dr Siddhant Bhargava, 26, and Chef Rahul Vasandani, 24, went from singular headed careers to multi-faceted ones. Is this how millennials chart their lives?
Chef Rahul Vasandani (left) and Dr Siddhant Bhargava symbolise the new way in which careers are perceived these days: not as treadmills with an upward incline, but as the foundations for vocations that might branch in different directions, bringing in good money via social media (Prabhat Shetty)
Chef Rahul Vasandani (left) and Dr Siddhant Bhargava symbolise the new way in which careers are perceived these days: not as treadmills with an upward incline, but as the foundations for vocations that might branch in different directions, bringing in good money via social media (Prabhat Shetty)
Updated on Jul 04, 2021 03:03 PM IST
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ByKarishma Kuenzang

Rahul Vasandani grew up wanting to be a footballer. This drew his attention to fitness. Today, at 24, he’s been the head chef at a restaurant but is better known for his fitness sessions and healthy food Reels.

Dr Siddhant Bhargava, 26, comes from a family of doctors. But he lost interest in formal medicine when he was diagnosed with lupus in his fifth year of medical school. Today, he’s one of the four partners at Food Darzee, a healthy kitchen, plans diets for celebrities like Alia Bhatt and is known for his super informative medical Reels.

These two young men symbolise the new way in which careers are perceived these days: not as treadmills with an upward incline, but as the foundations for vocations that might branch in different directions, bringing in good money via social media.

Get to know chef Rahul
Get to know chef Rahul

“My personal brand without social media would have been impossible. Yes, my number does get passed on in the celebrity circuit, but apart from social media I wouldn’t have grown,” says Dr Siddhant.

“I randomly met someone I had known in school who was also into fitness, and we sat there cribbing about how our mothers won’t let us get chicken into the house. That’s when the idea of Food Darzee was born,” says Siddhant.

But that was just the beginning. “Food Darzee would not have been possible without social media because traditional media doesn’t give you tangible range. The product moves via word of mouth but new customer acquisition outside of word of mouth has to happen through social media.”

Get to know Dr Siddhant
Get to know Dr Siddhant

For Rahul, social media has given him a boost in reaching a larger audience and showcasing his skills. “It’s also a great and much easier way to connect with people directly. Had it not been for social media, I would probably be doing the same thing but the reach would be lesser,” he adds.

Rahul fell in love with food while aiming to be fit. “My parents called me bawarchi when I started to cook eight years ago and delivered cheat meals on my cycle!” he says. After a few months, Rahul did a degree in nutrition and then went to Puducherry to live on a farm.

A different era

Today, says Rahul, things are different from a decade ago. “YouTube and Instagram can increase passive income. I do fitness training and my chef work,” he says.

He enjoyed being a head chef at 24, but didn’t want to do it forever. “My goal is to do something more — feed as many people as possible and solve issues like wastage of food, and release an app called Belly,” he adds.

Siddhant’s family was disappointed when at the age of 21, he decided to refocus on food.

Both Dr Siddhant (left) and chef Rahul agree that their reach wouldn’t have been possible without social media (Prabhat Shetty)
Both Dr Siddhant (left) and chef Rahul agree that their reach wouldn’t have been possible without social media (Prabhat Shetty)

“My father was apprehensive if my business would succeed,” he says. “As a doctor you know you’ll earn good money at 35. Parent-children relationships have changed too. They listen to logical reasoning these days.”

But the main thing that has changed for millennials and the generations that come after is the idea of expectations. “The fame we want to achieve, the money we want to earn, the kind of life we want lead us to do different things. This generation wants more. Even our expectations of happiness are different,” says Siddhant.

Hopes, dreams and boundaries

This ensures that youngsters these days push boundaries in every aspect, including social media.

“Everything you didn’t think was a profession is now legit. This belief will only get larger, but so will the pressure of performance and expectations,” Siddhant warns, adding, “Social media can end up building an alternative career for you because once you move into social media influencing, you have the power and people want to pay you to put out their views because you have a larger reach. This is a little different for me because as a doctor, I’m not allowed to endorse products. So, for me, this is just about becoming an authoritative figure and may open avenues for newer ventures.”

Millennials and careers
Millennials and careers

For millennials, careers are about survival. “How is a young doctor supposed to compare with a doctor who has 30 years of experience? Youngsters have to do things differently due to overpopulation,” Siddhant says.

“It’s also about how you are wired,” points out Rahul. “Degree ke baad job karna hai is there, and some want to be managers, etc. But social media has brought about a change in careers.”

Competition has grown too. “It’s cut-throat. The satisfaction index has gone down so much and there are different ways to always seek more,” says Siddhant. “And there’s a vicious circle of good and bad repercussions. Our generation may just be more successful, but more unhappy.”

Rahul agrees. “I’ve seen people losing their passion in order to earn money. I would rather be in a state where I am healthier and happier.”

Chef Rahul’s Reels inspired by HT Brunch Cover Stories
Chef Rahul’s Reels inspired by HT Brunch Cover Stories

“The day I reached 100k followers, it coincided with my one year anniversary with my girlfriend and I was so happy. Till I saw another person celebrating 200k. Just like that, that happiness was over. That’s what helped me not get obsessed with it,” adds Siddhant.

Degree talking

Does having a degree mean the same thing as it did before?

“You can do many more things with your degree now, but you are still bound to that field. I’m not sitting in a clinic but my Reels teach aspects of medicine. The degree gives me credibility,” says Siddhant.

Rahul agrees. “Your degree, being the root of your career, helps in mind-mapping. And, when it comes to fitness, I’m the fittest when I’m in the kitchen. Fitness isn’t about push-ups and pull-ups, but movement.”

Quick questions with chef Rahul and Dr Siddhant
Quick questions with chef Rahul and Dr Siddhant

Was there a turning point that made them focus on their social media avatars?

“When I had a fall out with my partners, I decided to focus on myself as a brand,” says Rahul.

For Siddhant, it’s literally a survival story: he’s now back in full force after beating thyroid cancer, which he was diagnosed with in March 2020.

“I realised I was lucky and so I needed to make a mark for myself. I don’t want to be irrelevant in society anymore and I want to change people’s thoughts,” says the planner, who sees himself selling his share at Food Darzee, if possible, at the age of 35 and just do things to help people.

And finally, what are the work hazards they look out for? “The trap is that it takes time for content to grow organically. Growing on Instagram is difficult, but when I became a nutritionist to stars like Alia Bhatt and Bhumi Pednekar, then word of mouth spread through them on social media,” answers Siddhant, who spends up to three hours a day on social media, including watching endless dog and cat videos.

Rahul was not very active on social media pre-pandemic, but now makes Reels of what he’s cooking for himself everyday. “But it’s for myself. Not for the numbers.”

Because when you begin to chase numbers, that’s when you should take a break from social media, they both agree.

Follow @Kkuenzang on Twitter and Instagram

From HT Brunch, July 4, 2021

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Sunday, November 28, 2021