A Slice of Life

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With the ever-changing scenario and the constant pressure for students to keep up not only with academics but also gain ‘real-life’ experience, students have their hands full. Many a time, institutes boast of unparalleled industry-academia interaction at the time admission/ recruitment of students, often failing to deliver after the classes are full. In such a situation, taking a reality check, many colleges are increasingly resorting to holding developmental workshops for the benefit of the students. The benefits are several. It is a lesser commitment on the part of the expert, so there are greater chances that the expert will be able to spare the time. “Very often, if we plan for a subject or a course for the entire semester by a person from the industry, we fail to get the experienced people we want since they cannot commit for an entire semester,” says Kamini Pradhan, coordinator and lecturer at the Department of Mass Communication and Extension, SVT College of Home Science, SNDT Women’s University.

Pradhan finds it easier to hold a variety of workshops, which last a day or two. So she has specialists coming in to discuss with students a host of topics, ranging from communication skills to credibility of the media and the realities of print and digital journalism. All the experts that come in for these workshops at SNDT University have been practitioners for a long time, which makes it easy for students to pose any questions or fears that they have and expect real answers. “We had a workshop on credibility of the media with a very senior person who had national and international exposure to news coverage. I was inhibited at first about asking him questions, but later when he started explaining the limitations of the media, the futile idealism that every journalism student lives with came to the fore,” says Pooja Tanna, a student at SNDT University. She goes on to add that in his own limited way, the expert explained to them the realities of being in the field and how to strike a balance between the editor’s whims and creative satisfaction. “Even though a bit of me crumbled inside to be faced with such realities so early on, I’m happy to be equipped with such knowledge,” she adds. Students today really appreciate the realistic view point brought to the classroom by experts, since it helps them pave their career path in the ‘right’ direction.

“These various kinds of workshops are important, since they enable students to get a slice of life, and help add an important component to our theoretical commerce syllabus,” says Principal T A Shiware of P D Hinduja College of Commerce. “We have workshops on taxation, which are a big hit with the students. In fact the filing of taxes has become much easier than a few years ago, and students need to understand that difference,” he says. Although he is very optimistic about workshops for regular degree college students, he does feel that it is the management and engineering students who benefit most from such academic workshops, since they have a harder time transitioning from college to real life.

Also, that is just the academic part of the bargain. There is a personality part too. Thus, many engineering and business management colleges conduct special workshops in different facets of personality – interviews, personality, soft skills, presentation, attire etc. “I have come across super intelligent students and professionals who are extremely shy and diffident since they think they lack adequate language skills,” says Rukhsana Eisa of Imange Inc, who advises on manner, grooming, business etiquette and social graces. Eisa has conducted numerous such workshops in different parts of the country and strongly suggests that every college expose its students to such social graces. “There is nothing to feel amiss about. Like everything else, this is learning too, and we need it,” she says.

Cut to the funk stuff. Stuff that does not have anything to do with your curriculum but is still extremely appealing to the youth. Like an advertising workshop in an engineering college, or a robotics workshop in a degree college for arts and science students. It just works! “We had an amazing two-day theatre workshop for our BSc students,” says Yashomita Kanan of NK College. “In college, we rarely get out of the classroom or the labs; we’re always neck deep in our books or assignments. So such workshops not only provide the much needed relief and break, but also a chance to learn through another medium,” she adds after attending the workshop about leadership through theatre. Talking about leadership, at a recently conducted a workshop for about 150 students at Khalsa College, training specialist Marita Nazareth had the participants play games and bring out their creative side through posters and slogans, both individually and in groups. “The most important factor is to let the participants know that everyone has their own positives and they need to empower themselves through their own skills,” she says. Thus she had a satisfied lot leaving her session. With the university regulations and curriculum taking up a lot of time, it often becomes essential to supplement the curriculum with short bursts of refreshments!

Volume 1 Issue 7