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Industrial visits are a great way to get an insight into what your dream job involves. Neeti Vijaykumar takes a look at the rising trend in India

Unlike our parents’ generation, we have so many more career options to choose from. We’re lucky that we have a list of diverse career options and luckier still that the universe is being nice to us by preparing us in every possible way to make the transition from education to career as smooth as possible. The idea of an industrial visit (IV) or an educational tour is not new in India; a lot of the IIT and IIM institutes as well as other colleges and universities organise tours that give their students a feel of the prospective industries they might join after college. However, this trend is opening out to include students from all fields and careers of all kinds.
Industrial visits and educational tours are tools you can use to get an exposure into the industry or career you’re keen to grow in. There’s no dearth of where you can go to learn about the potential company or industry you want to get involved in. Whether it’s a milk-producing factory in a rural village, a scuba diving start-up at a picturesque beach, a bio-engineering lab belonging to a high-end pharmaceutical corporation or the sets of a television serial, today mostly all kinds of organisations are open to giving students a feel of their workplace.

Agencies specialising in IVs
Apart from the planned visits organised by colleges and universities, many travel agencies have taken the plunge into arranging educational trips for students. There are also a few start-ups that specialise solely in making industrial visits a fun and informative adventure. These agencies can give you, as an individual, the freedom to choose the time, place and itinerary to follow. Purple Squirrel is one such a venture. Through a user-friendly app and a website, founders Aditya Gandhi and Sahiba Dhandhania provide experiential learning tours that are tailor-made to a student’s classroom syllabus.
Funiskool, a New Delhi-based educational tours operator that was founded in 2007, has a special NASA tour package for students, besides a range of other kinds of industrial tours across India. Vikram Kirtani, product head at Funiskool says, “An industrial visit can help a student get an idea about how the industry is changing. By interacting with the HR and other professionals, he or she can gauge the future changes in technology and acquire an understanding of the past of the industry as well as the present.” Samarth Tours, a travel agency founded in Mumbai in 2004, has educational tours to various industries based in urban centres as well as off-beat vacation places such as Mahabaleshwar, Chandigarh, Mysore, Ooty, Goa and Nainital. From big corporations such as Wipro, Pepsi, BHEL, Dabur and ISRO, there are also visits to marble factories, ship yards and cottage industries in Rajasthan.
An industrial visit is not just about touring a factory and getting a lesson on how it works. It also involves meeting delegates, talking to representatives of the industry who could be potential mentors, and exchanging information about the trends in the industry. And, to take it further and add an element of fun, companies like Purple Squirrel also includes non-academic activities and games for students and corporate employees in their after-work hours.

The impact
Students have always come out of such tours with a better understanding of their field of work and the kind of environment they’ll be working in. It gives them an idea of their work roles, the hierarchy in the organisation and the kind of people they will be interacting with. Such an exposure is important so that you can decide whether this is what you really want to do in life. For Yash Sharma, a student of Electronics & Telecommunication at the SIES Graduate School of Technology, Nerul, his visit to Larsen & Tubro was a great experience filled with learning opportunities. He says, “The real shop-floor experience was helpful in understanding the concept of fabrication and assemblies in a production line. The principle of ‘Safety First’ was very visible in the industry. Even a motivating speech by the Assistant General Manager had really inspired us.”
It’s not just students who have all the fun. Even organisations and professionals who interact with them discover what makes the younger generation tick. Mohan Kumar, CEO of Trendwise Analytics, was delighted to connect with students in a tour of his organisation. “I think this is a great initiative which will add tremendous value to the students,” he says adding, “One of the challenges the industry faces today is that a majority of the students graduating out of colleges are not employment ready. This initiative will go a long way in filling that gap. I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with the youngsters!”
Make the most of these visits by engaging with the employees, both young and experienced, as they’ll have several stories to share. What you learn in the classroom is not an accurate reflection of what your work environment will be like. An industrial visit is essential as it gives you the chance to see how you can apply your classroom lessons to the professional sphere that you strive to be a part of.

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Are you up for an ‘Eduventure’?

Bridging the gap between the academic world and industrial experience, Purple Squirrel founders Aditya Gandhi and Sahiba Dhandhania believe in giving students all the exposure they can so that they make informed decisions about what career they want to take up. “Purple Squirrel is a recruitment term used to describe an ideal job candidate, someone with the qualifications that perfectly fit the job’s multi-faceted requirements,” say the ex-IIT duo, explaining the idea behind the quirky name. In an interview, they give us an insight as to what a typical industrial visit is like and how it helps students make the right choice.

How did the idea for starting such a venture come up? Have you ever been on such an industrial visit (IV) that helped you think of the same?
During the course of our individual work lives, we noticed an undercurrent of frustration in professionals of all age groups and industries pertaining to the professional choices they made. Two out of 10 were actually doing what they believed in, while barely four out of 10 were strongly holding themselves back from jumping jobs. After some research, we found that making unhealthy career choices was the major problem. The idea for starting Purple Squirrel Eduventures came to us when we were looking for a solution to nip this in the bud. We figured that a potential work-force, who makes more informed choices by experiential learning and work culture immersion, could and should be the future of our nation. More than 10,000 experiences, 350 partners and 10 destinations later, we’re proud to say that it was the most fulfilling idea we’ve had till date.

How will these industrial visits/tours help students understand what career to choose?
The industrial visit is very carefully designed to suit the curriculum a student is studying in his classroom environment. By making the industry his classroom, we essentially ensure that students make more informed decisions about the choices out there. They get to decide whether they like what they see, and listen to what it’s going to be like from the very people who work in that environment. After this, they will be in a better position to decide if they’d like to take up a job in an MNC, work for a social enterprise, join their family business or even start something by themselves.

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Which industries/professions tours are offered by you as of now? Do you include social work, entrepreneurship and off-beat careers (such as scuba diving or DJ)?
Absolutely. We’re all about giving the student exposure to every kind of option there is. From unconventional careers like wine sommeliers, to taking a look at the backend of how an NGO functions, informative walks across the offices of up-and-coming start-ups, to learning how a bottle of Coke is produced by going through its bottling plant — we have it all. Media, engineering, bio-con, IT, cloud computing and entertainment production are just some of the industries covered by us. A student is free to make his decisions and then chalk himself his most ideal path.

What happens in a typical industrial visit—what does a student get to see, whom do they meet and interact with, and what activities (if any) are they engaged in?
A typical industrial visit is a study tour that is crafted entirely based on the student’s classroom learning. Relevant companies, start-ups, enterprises and speakers are contacted and an itinerary is set such that it spreads comfortably across the next few days. At the visit, the students get to interact with corporate delegates who are on-the-job and actually see what they can expect in a work environment. An info-seminar is organised for them with diligent speakers and a substantial Q&A session lets them further have their fill of exposure to the industry.
This ensures that the student gets enough time to soak in all that he sees, as well as enough time to leave him rested for the next day. After official work hours in most organisations, academic team-building activities are organised to keep these students engaged. Various activities include impromptu theatre performances that are scripted around college life, Scrabble or Pictionary tournaments, dance sessions or even DIY workshops.

How are these tours planned for individual students?
Any student can log on to our website or app, and simply profile themselves via a questionnaire. Our app then determines what the student will experience on this IV based on his choice of demographic, industries and even faculty. These are then layered with engaging activities, and a customised itinerary is generated. The student makes his payment in full or opts for COD.

What has been the general response from students who have gone on these tours?
The response is what makes all of it worth it. Take the case of a batch of bio-con students who visited SAMY Labs; they came out with a completely reversed mindset. They said that they had never considered a full-time job in their core area of study, let alone one that gives them access to a lab and offers work on the actual research of the drug.
From life-changing statements to healthy feedback on what more they’d like to see when they undertake their next eduventure with us, we get them all.

 

Volume 4 Issue 8

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