Divakaruni put herself through graduate school by taking on odd jobs, working as a babysitter, a store clerk, a bread slicer in a bakery, a laboratory assistant at Wright State University, and a dining hall attendant at International House, Berkeley. She was a graduate teaching assistant at U.C.Berkeley She taught at Foothill College in Los Altos, California and Diablo Valley College. She now lives and teaches in Texas, where she is the at the nationally ranked University of Houston Creative Writing Program.
Divakaruni is a co-founder and former president of Maitri, a helpline founded in 1991 for South Asian women dealing with domestic abuse. Divakaruni serves on its advisory board and on the advisory board of a similar organisation in Houston, Daya. She also serves on the emeritus board pf Pratham Houston, a non-profit organisation working to bring literacy to disadvantaged Indian children. She volunteers for Indo American Charity Organization, a non-profit which raises money to assist various charities in the Houston area.