The city of Pune, India is often is a described as the face of the “New India.” Pirangut is a small, rural village located just outside the city and it, too, is playing a part in shaping the nation's future.

In 2013, a Coca-Cola bottling facility was built in Pune. The plant not only provided jobs for local residents, but also included a Coca-Cola Career Development Center (CDC), which provides a free opportunity for students and young adults in the surrounding village to develop into skilled professionals. The CDC teaches computer programs like Microsoft Excel and Word, as well as soft skills like interview training and professional behavior.

In villages like Pirangut, professional skills cannot be learned at school. Before the Coca-Cola CDC opened, students had to travel to Pune for this kind of education. Since its inception, the Center has helped more than 750 young adults become proficient in professional skills. Although all of these skills have there place, the most important skill taught at the CDC is the self-confidence necessary to succeed in life.

Rahule Rokade, who completed training at the CDC, recently shared his story with the Coca-Cola Journey team.

How did this relationship with Coca-Cola’s CDC happen?

Some Coca-Cola employees and community leaders came to my neighborhood and explained what they were doing at the CDC. At first, I was not interested, but my good friend made me come with him to the CDC. They said job opportunities would come after completing the course. This excited me.

What has the CDC taught you?

Several things. I learned about computers and their functions. I learned how to communicate with people in a professional manor, how do dress professionally, and how to behave like a professional.

How has the CDC changed your life?

When I was 17 years old, my father passed away. My mother was the housekeeper and unable to work. I have two younger brothers and two younger sisters. I had to become the family breadwinner. I left school to start work at a hotel. It was a low-paying room service job. Once I came to the CDC facility and learned what I could achieve here, I quit my job and started working for the local CDC to secure a better life. Since then I have brought my brother here to receive the training as well.

How does the community see Coca-Cola

I live very close to the Coca-Cola plant. I used to look at employees there and think they just make drinks. Now, when I see the company and feel like I am a part of it because it has been so important to my life. I think they are very much a part of the community. I am very excited to see Coca-Cola now. If Coca-Cola didn’t care about us, they wouldn’t have opened the center. There are other companies around the community, but none of them are giving free classes like this. They really care for the people. I genuinely feel that Coca-Cola is part of our community.

What does your future look like now that you have had this training?

I want to be a leader in my community and serve as an example to my family as well as others. I want to continue to work the job I am currently at and be the boss someday. My social status has changed tremendously because of this job. People look at me differently now. Even if a police officer stands by me, people will look at me with more respect than him because I work in a government office. This is the best thing

What advice would you give someone who was in your shoes before starting at the CDC?

There is not a single person in the world who doesn’t face challenges. Challenges are apart of our life. You should have confidence with and you should fight against all odds with the attitude of “I will.”