Off to work (early): Indian campuses are making students industry-ready
Institutions are forging collaborations and redesigning curricula to make graduates more employable.
In the fast-changing fields of data analytics and digital media, you degree alone isn’t often enough to make you job ready. Most lesson plans and curriculums are dated by the time you’re looking for your first job. And students find themselves short of actual experience.
To counteract this, several colleges have had internship programmes – systems that worked well for some students. Now, institutions are going a step further: they’re tying up with firms and other organisations to allow students to work on projects alongside their education to bridge the skill gap for first-time job seekers.
Last year, the TA Pai Management Institute (TAPMI) in Manipal launched an 11-month L.E.A.D, a programme, which is a training partnership in collaboration with the data analytics firm, MU Sigma.
“It is aimed at arming students, who know their way around analytics, with managerial and leadership skills,” says Aditya Jadhav, professor at TAPMI and coordinator for corporate engagement. This approach helps companies that want both the analyst and manager in one employee.
Suyash Jain, a student of the L.E.A.D. already had five years of experience at IT companies like Capgemini and LTI. “I wanted to build my foundation in management to improve my leadership skills,” he says. He adds that the exposure to decision sciences he got through the 4-month internship at MU Sigma has prepared him for the placements.
Jadhav says that by the end of the course, most of the students receive placement offers at MU Sigma and other big data firms. The collaboration ensures that students are up to date with industry trends and the syllabus can be varied every year depending on the emerging trends in data analytics.
HANDS ON LEARNING
In Pune, FLAME University offers training in finance and banking, investing, retail, analytics, e-commerce, FMCG, and communications subjects like advertising, branding, media marketing and communications management.
“Many firms send their executives to our campus for live projects, which are actual programmes that the firm is working on,” says Dr Dwarika Prasad Uniyal, dean of the Faculty of Business. The university also has a platform called FLAME Consulting, which is monitored by the faculty, and students work on paid consultation work for companies.
The university’s additional training programmes are also geared to make students ready for their first jobs. At the Development Activities Program (DAP), NGO activities are mandatory. The Discover India Program (DIP), has research projects. Jaidev Mehrotra, a 2017 FLAME graduate, says that the university’s tie-up with JSW Steel gave students a chance to undergo a rigorous two-month summer internship. “The research we were made to do in DIP made things a lot easier for me when I joined a communications firm,” he says. “I also worked with non-profits. It has made me communicate better at the workplace.”
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Ycenter is a design and innovation enterprise and works closely with the United Nations. The company offers online as well as real-life training in sustainable solutions.
Rohaan Goswami, chief operating officer at Ycenter, says that their programmes aim is to get students to think critically, and solve problems, skills that are often missing when there are only lectures and textbooks. “It also gets students to think creatively so that they are not only prepared to be job seekers, but also job creators,” he says.
Ycenter creates community-impact projects, such as helping create grassroot entrepreneurship ecosystems in Tier 2 and 3 regions, and developing the women textile artisan ecosystem in Rajasthan, in collaboration with the French Embassy, Maker’s Asylum and local NGO’s.
Students attended social innovation and design workshops at IIT Bombay and TAPMI, as part of their Ycenter programme. “They learnt to find patterns in problems and predict solutions, design product prototypes and make business models,” says Goswami. The enterprise also has its own online platform for training called EPIC, which simulates the real life workshops conducted at institutes.
“Many students who have taken part in our workshops have opened up their own start-up companies. Maitri Shah of K J Somaiya College of Engineering started Mindassets, a company that creates remote working opportunities for the differently abled,” says Goswami.
PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
The Prasanna School of Public Health (PSPH), Manipal Academy of Higher Education organises compulsory field visits to primary government healthcare centres, and waste-management plants. The courses also help students form public healthcare policies through the university’s initiatives.
Sanidhya Bhargava, a student of PSPH, says that the field visits helped him understand the constraints of working in the real world. “We were well equipped with the skills taught to us, but in some districts we found poor healthcare facilities and at times even water was a luxury. This made me realise the kind of challenges within India’s healthcare system that we don’t learn in the classroom.”
Through the college’s compulsory internship programme, Bhargava also had the chance to work in the tribal belt of Koraput in Odisha, where community dialogue sessions are held at anganwadis. “I found a huge language barrier especially when communicating with adolescents about reproductive health,” he recalls. “Our interpreter refused to translate the terms he considered taboo. It was an eye-opener for us, to deal with barriers like these. But it also made us aware of the problems that still need solving.”