Rahule’s mother had always been a housekeeper, and his father passed away when he was 17. With four younger siblings to take care of, his focus was on playing the family breadwinner’s role. Not that he ever had a ‘career’ to look forward to while growing up.

Having started at a low-paying room service job, Rahule’s peers faced a similar situation. His friends were working, but without knowing how long they could hold on to those odd jobs, knowing they weren’t equipped with any skills that would enable them to look for better opportunities. Rahule and his friends had seen their parents grow old doing menial, unstable jobs and they were sure their life trajectory would be no different.

On hearing about the Coca-Cola ‘Career Development Centre’ -a joint initiative of Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private Limited, NIIT Foundation and Gram Niyojan Kendra, Rahule took a decision to change the trajectory of his life, and joined the programme.

The Career Development Centre (CDC) is aimed at bringing job-oriented vocational training programme within the easy reach of the educated, unemployed and undertrained youth of the area. As part of the program, students learn computer programs like Microsoft Excel and Word, as well as soft skills, such as interview training and professional behaviour. In its first year alone, through training, company visits and counselling sessions, the initiative has helped place over 150 students in suitable jobs.

To Rahule, the experience was a journey of self-realisation and the rekindling of a spark of faith in himself. Instead of praying for a miracle, it transformed his mindset and made him realise the potential that lay within him. Today, he is closer to achieving his dreams than ever before, just like over 750 others like him.

The youth have always been associated with enthusiasm, determination, perseverance, and a zest for life. While that may be true of the world’s youngest democracy, Rahule Rokade from Pirangut village, near Pune, now has a happy, and different, story to narrate to the world.