Five Pillars To Transform a Career Advancement Cell

By Mohit Singh, Director, Placements, Rishihood University.

Graduating students pin their hopes of a great job right after college. And their placement cell is the most critical piece of the whole equation. If the cell falls short of expectation, careers may possibly be affected. So let me share my suggestions for how to make a placement cell overperform and become the darling of the graduating class!

But first, a flashback.

Embarking on a career in the placement team was a fortuitous twist of fate for me, an accidental navigator through the corridors of career advancement. My UG campus, with its flexible placement cell rules and regulations, guided me toward the best opportunities like the university entry scheme of the Army, Philips, and various healthcare corporations, a sequence of opportunities that initially filled me with joy but later sparked introspection as I was able to crack almost every opportunity.

In hindsight, I began to question whether my acceptance of multiple job offers inadvertently deprived my batchmates of potentially life-changing opportunities. Without paying much heed to that thought, I started my career at Philips India in the healthcare division. Subsequently, I ventured into a bootstrap startup, which unfortunately succumbed to the challenges of securing the next level of funding.

While exploring new opportunities, I unexpectedly landed a job as a placement officer at NIT Kurukshetra. Despite only meeting the basic eligibility criteria to join as a placement officer of NIT Kurukshetra, which required a minimum age of 24 and 5 years of work experience, I was able to secure the role. Although I had no prior experience in the placement industry, I managed to beat out other candidates and became the youngest placement officer in the NIT/IIT ecosystem. This was the start of my journey into the unknown.

We took some bold steps immediately.

Two key measures taken by our team at NIT Kurukshetra were to design a comprehensive one-year internship policy for M.Tech students and to introduce a six-month internship program for undergraduate students. Although met with skepticism initially, our decisions were backed by thorough market research and feedback from alumni and industry experts. Subsequently, I transitioned through various roles on different campuses, offering valuable insights into the contrasting dynamics of government and private institutions concerning the operation of placement cells. The data proved us right. There was a massive jump in the effectiveness of the placement cell.

To distill the overarching lessons from my experience I’d like to share Five Pillars To Transform a Career Advancement Cell:

1. Student-Driven Cell: Encouraging a culture where students take the lead in shaping their careers is essential. The team that drives these initiatives should be brimming with passion and enthusiasm to serve their peers equally. As the selection of unsuitable candidates can adversely affect the entire batch, students must approach this responsibility with utmost seriousness. However, their duty doesn't end with the selection process. They must represent the entire batch post-selection and approach their roles with a sense of duty and seriousness. By doing so, they can inspire their peers and contribute to building a better future for everyone. Your job: find these dynamos.

2. Corporate Readiness Modules: As I progressed further, I discovered that the key difference between an average college and an exceptional one, especially in terms of job placements, lies in the focus given to corporate preparedness programs in top-notch institutions. These institutions go above and beyond to ensure that their students possess the basic traits desired by employers. This strategic approach ensures that students are not just well-prepared, but also equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge required by leading employers. Your job: keep track of what new skills companies are looking for.

3. Continuous Feedback Mechanism: Success is within reach for those who establish a Continuous Feedback Mechanism, a vital yet often neglected element in many educational settings. It's disheartening to see that most institutions lack such a system. However, taking a proactive step by setting up a robust framework for collecting feedback from both students and recruiters can make all the difference. This systematic approach not only identifies areas for improvement but also drives the evolution of the placement process, ensuring its alignment with the constantly changing demands of the industry. Your job: take active feedback from the students and the recruiters. Don’t take negative feedback personally.

4. Alumni Engagement: Alumni networks are a powerful tool that institutes can use to empower their students. By tapping into the vast wealth of knowledge and experience within this community, students can receive mentorship, guidance, and even potential job opportunities. By harnessing the strength of alumni networks, institutes can inspire their students to reach their full potential and achieve their dreams. Your job: put alumni on a pedestal.

5. Life Time Career Assistance Model: It's a unique and innovative approach to career development that helps you achieve your professional goals and aspirations at every stage of your career journey. With this model, you'll have access to personalized guidance, training, and resources that will help you stay on track and make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. Your job: keep track of the students you have placed and how they’re progressing.

When it comes to building a strong career advancement cell, above mentioned fundamental components are crucial for success. These components, which I refer to as "basic hygiene," serve as the foundation of a successful placement strategy and are essential for creating a thriving placement program.

( Source : Guest Post )
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