I have been talking to few friends of mine about the way the education is taught in the engineering colleges and there were few interesting topics we touched during our conversation. One of the topics we touched about was the readiness of the premier engineering students for the rigors of the industry.
We all know that our education is mostly based on the curriculum that does not necessarily reflect the work that will be done by these very students after they pass out of the engineering. Also, the industry interaction at most of the companies is also limited up to few sponsorship labs (eventually to attract talent to these companies) or the final year sponsored project. Innovation projects or promoting entrepreneurship is not a very common sight in many of the colleges.
I spoke with few professors about the scenario and in their opinion the lack of initiative from the industry people to consistently support the re-shaping of the education system is one of the main reason for this status. Although the industry people are very good at providing so called recommendation in shaping up the things, they were not very good at providing grass root level support in ensuring that the recommendations reach the deserving students.
Obviously, me being one of the representative of the corporate industry, it made me think on how this could be done ?
Mostly in all the companies, we do have entry level training programs in order to on board and make the students adjust to the technical / behavioral and professional demands of the industry and make them fit for upcoming project deliveries. More over, many of the organizations also run the scholarship programs to encourage learning, motivate high performing students and pay their fees for entire course.
Although we all acknowledge that the industry has a bigger role to play in re-shaping and consistently supporting the education in India, what else is required to be done, and once we know what needs to be done, we also need to find out how it needs to be done and consistently ?
The answer to this is not simple and I guess one article is going to be small enough to cover the details. So let me tell you my small story and try to elaborate one aspect of this.
Let me take you back to my engineering college days.
I was studying Computer Science Engineering in MNREC (now MNNIT) and all those years I was studying, my focus was rather in learning what came in my way, rather than focusing my learning on what I want to do in my life. Heck …, until I got a job in my final year, I had no clue what I was going to do in my life. I was just studying in order to get decent level of marks in all my subjects to ensure I am eligible for campus placements.
Till the time I did not get a job, I was clueless about what kind of work I am going to do in my life (read – confused). And after I got a job in one of the premier companies I was even more confused as what will happen to me once I join and what kind of work will be expected out of me (read – even more confused) !
Although experienced people used to tell me that I got through one of the best companies and my future was supposedly bright, I spent the rest of year contemplating what kind of career I would have in my life and would I enjoy it. In the previous 4 years in my college, I had developed a passion for programming and web development and I was desperate to continue working in that field, but again, there was no guarantee that I would be working on these when I join my new company after I finish my college.
I did join Cognizant (then CTS) after I finished my career and spent initial few months learning the basics of the technology. Fortunately or unfortunately, me being from the Computer Science background, they through I would do well in the Web technologies domains and hence they put me through a rigorous training program for 1 month making me take coaching on HTML, Java / JSP, Oracle and Unix etc., technologies. I also had to appear for an exit test after a month and ensure I pass on so that I can make myself available for the project selection, for one of which I eventually got selected. More over, while talking to my other friends who got through various other companies, I also learnt that these entry level programs are very common and similar natured in other companies.
Then I had a question !
When I was selected out of campus almost within a week into my final year start and had a full year ahead, why I did not know what I could do to prepare myself for my eventual entry into corporate world ? Would a diligent self learning for a year, made me prepare myself better ?
Probably the answer I would give to myself was Yes ! Then why there was no one who was available for me to talk to or guide me on what I should have done and helped me make a better use of my available time in my college ?
These companies go to the college campuses year on year, select students year after year, but unfortunately most of them end their relationship only there. Few go a further by setting up sponsorship labs (as mentioned earlier) or providing student scholarships. Unfortunately not beyond !
When I was a student and had a job offer, I felt a need of having someone to talk to, ask questions, seek answers and prepare myself better. I wanted to make better career choice, I wanted to feel and know the various aspects of industry world. But unfortunately, there was no one who could help !
Industry people, can you make a difference here?