Some people spend their college years buried with their noses in books in the rush to get good grades. On the other hand, there are those who enjoy all other aspects of college life to the detriment of their studies. Striking the balance is what today’s young achievers are all about. After all, in today’s competitive recruitment landscape, first-class grades may not stand for much alone; whereas, if you can display your talent and management skills, you can show recruiters that you are an all-rounder. For this reason, extracurricular activities are given greater importance by most colleges across India in their bid to let students develop their talents and passions and explore their hobbies. To foster the creative spirit amongst the youth, college festivals gained popularity in the 70s in India. Today, these pioneering festivals exemplify the real-world skills one can learn through extracurricular activities.
Leadership, coordination, and teamwork are the essential requirements of organising any college festival. Niharika, a second-year BMM student at Sophia College, Mumbai, is working with the Fine Arts event team at popular inter-collegiate festival, Kaleidoscope, this year. Her team consists of nine coordinators who select and organise events in line with the theme of the year. The team works together to locate gift sponsors and category sponsors who give away prizes at the event and assist with resources for execution. The Fine Arts team also organises the final exhibition where people see the artwork done over the festival. She says, “The most important things that I have learnt from this experience have been responsibility, communication, and organisation. My confidence levels have taken a huge push and I know that I can achieve anything I set my mind to.”
Students like Niharika are the driving force behind some of the largest festivals in the world. Mood Indigo, the annual college festival organised by IIT Mumbai, has over time become the largest of its kind in Asia! Indian and international stars have graced the stage of this campus. It attracts major sponsors and extensive media coverage each year.
Today everyone wants to be a part of a known brand like Mood Indigo or Malhar, but creating awareness for a new festival is a little more difficult. Ria Sen is a third-year student in Banking at Jai Hind College. Along with Rahul Raj Singh, she came up with and helped to organise the Highlight Reel – an intercollegiate filmmaking festival – which encouraged students to make short films and present them. Initially in 2009, it started in a small auditorium with only 30 to 40 students present. Last year, however, the organisers teamed up with Sony Entertainment and got celebrities such as Pradeep Sarkar (director) and Cyrus Dastur (Founder, Shamiana). Students who won the filmmaking competitions had the opportunity to screen their films nationally through Shamiana. Ria says, “In the beginning, it was really hard to publicise the festival.
There was some challenge from the college faculty as people thought that it would distract students from their studies. We had to organise everything ourselves. We didn’t have a team in the beginning, so without active support it was difficult. In the first year, one of our own team had to make a film to fill in the gaps, whereas the last time we got 25-26 entries!” She continues, “The main thing I have learnt here is management. People today are taking MBA degrees, but when you start something from scratch, you really learn the steps of management: from where you should begin to visualising where you should end up.”
And don’t forget that any college festival itself will be a lot of fun and a major part of your college experience. Be proactive and learn these key skills while still on campus!
ORGANISING FESTIVALS TEACHES YOU SOME KEY WORK SKILLS:
Students need to have meetings with a lot of people to coordinate the entire event. They have to communicate with sponsors, draw up contracts, and then deliver on their promises. This gives them a great platform for learning key communication skills that are more formal than they might have experienced on campus or at home.
Discipline and order at the event itself is paramount. Th ere is sometimes chaos and confusion at college festivals due to the sheer number of participants and events. Organisers have to do their best to ensure that the rules are in place, that everyone is aware of them, and that they are followed to the T.
Often, the college festival starts from scratch. Even with the well-known festivals such as Malhar, Kaleidoscope, and Mood Indigo, students have to think of a name, ideate for the theme, and collect contacts for sponsorship. Thus they gain hands-on experience in project management and execution.
There are some unforeseen problems that take place at festivals. Students need to take quick decisions to mitigate or resolve these. There is a lot of coordination and adjustment that needs to take place; students need to learn to think on their feet.
Organising the festival is a huge lesson in team building. One needs to delegate work appropriately and rely on that person to carry out that task. The team as a whole needs to be process-oriented, detailed, and prompt. Students need to shoulder responsibility and learn how to be leaders to make sure that everyone is happy to function as a whole.
Organising a college festival can really help students to build a lot of contacts while still on campus with key people at corporate companies, news agencies, and media houses. These will then become the first point of contact for students after they graduate.
Confidence levels of college festival organisers get a huge boost. They have the self-belief to carry out any task that is given to them. This is a key trait that will help them immensely in the workplace.
Volume 1 Issue 2