Law student finds success online in podcasts, Twitter

Kishwer Vikaas was recently named on a list of influential people on Twitter.


Kishwer Vikaas can’t hold a single job.

That’s to say, Vikaas can’t hold only one job – the Temple law student has a tendency to hold more than three jobs at a time, a seemingly chronic need-to-be-busy trait.

“I like doing different things,” Vikaas said. “I’ve yet to find a job that plays on all my strengths and keeps me interested. I get bored easily. I like to do something at any given moment – I find it hard to sit still.”

Vikaas graduated from Temple in 2007 with a degree in English, although she had originally started on the pre-med track, thinking she would major in Biology. After graduation, the Philadelphia native worked at Temple Math/Science Upward Bound at the Russell Conwell Center where she prepared students for the SAT who were low-income or first in their family to go to college. After that, she taught SAT preparation to Korean students on Saturdays while working two other jobs.

“At one point, I was working three jobs. I was teaching on Saturdays, I was working at a women’s gym – Lucille Roberts – and I was babysitting on the Main Line,” Vikaas said. “I enjoyed the change in pace. One minute I’m watching ‘Hannah Montana,’ the other minute I’m selling gym memberships and the next I’m in front of a classroom.”

Not much has changed for Vikaas, a woman who still has her hands in many different projects. She gathered clips by writing for Philadelphia City Paper and Uwishunu, among other publications. Uwishunu editor Eric Smith isn’t surprised in the least by Vikaas’ success.

“[Vikaas] is a fabulous writer,” Smith said. “She’s an incredibly warm and friendly person. To know [Vikaas] is to immediately heart her. That’s all you really need to be successful – that and a serious work ethic. Be kind, [Vikaas] is.”

Vikaas landed a job as a copywriter for Public Health Management Corporation, a position she’s held for five years. However, as evident in her résumé, one job is never quite enough to satisfy her.

And it’s hard to believe that she ever gets the chance to – in addition to her position at PHMC and night classes at Beasley School of Law, Vikaas is a co-founder of the award-winning podcast “Talkadelphia” and a founder of the newly-launched blog, Aerogram.

Having now completed its 72nd episode, it’s hard to believe that the idea for “Talkadelphia” began with less than 140 characters. In 2010, Vikaas simply tweeted that she wanted to start a podcast and received a response expressing interest almost instantly from her now-husband, Gino Barrica.

“He had the tech know-how to make it happen, whereas I had the contacts and the writing experience,” Vikaas said.

Vikaas, who had been writing for a South Asian MTV blog, missed interviewing Philadelphians and thought a conversational format would be best suited for showcasing some of the city’s most colorful characters.

“Even the best writer can’t capture the essence of someone’s personality via text,” Vikaas said. “There are personalities that are just so vibrant that they don’t belong on a page.”

Vikaas is still interested in blogging, however. She is one of three founders of Aerogram, a blog dedicated to issues affecting the South Asian-American community. After Sepia Mutiny, the largest South Asian-American group blog in America, shut down in Spring 2012, Vikaas, along with New York journalist Lakshmi Gandhi and San Francisco writer Pavani Yalamanchili, wanted to give the demographic an outlet to talk about important issues. The name is from a piece of air mail that the USPS no longer uses, but used to be very popular in international communication.

“It was the way our mothers communicated to their families back home,” Vikaas said.

Vikaas is now finding herself gaining recognition for a more modern method of communication: Twitter. The 27-year-old was named one of Philadelphia Magazine’s “Top 15 Most Influential Philadelphians on Twitter” earlier this month for her impressive networking abilities and her knack for making connections throughout the city.

“I feel like my job is to make informal connections,” Vikaas said. “I feel like the Godfather sometimes.”

Vikaas, whose Twitter handle is @Phillygrrl, has 2,609 followers as of yesterday, Feb. 18. She admits that her feed can be a bit of a hodgepodge.

“My personal Twitter is a little schizophrenic,” Vikaas said. “My interests are so varied. You’ll see a lot of about Philadelphia, about South Asian-American topics, everything from Mindy Kaling and Aziz Ansari to something less well known. You’ll see a lot of literature – the authors that I love, I follow them and try to share their content.”

As she and her account have matured, Vikaas said she is more thoughtful about what she tweets about.

“In my early 20s, I was very mundane and very typical,” she said. “‘I’m eating an egg sandwich! It’s exciting!’ But now, I try to give it a little more thought.”

Vikaas’s relationship with the little blue bird has definitely surpassed just lunchtime decisions. She said she uses Twitter for keeping a handle on not only her professional life, but her social – and love – life as well.

“Twitter changed my life,” Vikaas said. “If it weren’t for Twitter, I wouldn’t have talked to my now-husband. We never would have [conversed]. If it wasn’t for Twitter, I would never have gotten any of the blogging opportunities I got.”

While not every Twitter user will find their sweetie via the site, Vikaas does offer some tips for getting the most out of Twitter.

“Your Twitter [feed] is only as good as the people you follow,” Vikaas said. “They curate the content for you. They say Facebook is the friends you have; Twitter is the friends you want to have.”

Jenelle Janci can be reached at 

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