Ask the leader of any organisation on what helped them to rise to the top of their game, and they will tell you that they built a sharp acumen by keeping their ears firmly to the ground and by sensing the pulse of the market.
These individuals have a keen sense of the real world and understand the expectations of the stakeholders from a business perspective.
For a student, a project with the industry can give similar benefits as it provides hands-on exposure in a work environment where the objectives and outcomes are clearly quantifiable.
A good project undertaken by students certainly adds value to the resume. In fact, it can become a conversational point in the personal interview, helping the student to organically let his or her skillsets to be showcased through the right description of the project.
“In today’s time, businesses are experiencing changes and hence agility and flexibility is one of the important things to look for in a person before assigning a project,” says Subhash Menon, Chief Human Resource Officer, Angel Broking Ltd., who has mentored many students.
Problem-solving and analytical skills are sought after, explains Menon.
“Students need to display an ability to take a logical and analytical approach to problem-solving. It is good to show how you can approach problems from different angles. Agility is another skill that a student should embrace while working in cross-functional teams. Good communication and technical skills also form an important part of the skill sets that a fresher should possess,” he said.
Role of a mentor
The role of a mentor is extremely crucial for a student to get the best out of the project. Though hand-holding and close monitoring may not be possible, a good mentor does provide guidance and directions throughout.
“The projects we assign to students are for execution and usually dynamic in nature, requiring the candidate to put in their heart and soul, as we expect that they should be able to shift gears, adapt to changes as and when the situation demands. With AI, Big data and automation impacting employees all around, students need to have a digital mindset and leverage technology to improve communication and collaboration across locations,” adds Menon.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when taking up projects with the industry:
Listen: Listening is a skill that is going to keep you on top. Listening happens at different levels -actively, passively, intuitively. Listen to the culture of the organisation as you step in, listen to how people interact and care about communicating with each other. Listen to what is being told to you.
Absorb: Listening needs to be internalised and absorbed at various levels. If the mentor is asking you to find out new information from an existing data set, try to understand the data and the story it is trying to tell you. Afterwards, you will be able to synthesise, distil and convey this information effectively.
Reflect: Based on what you have listened to and understood, try to reflect on the implications this may have. Why is this information being conveyed to you? Do you have a stake in it? Does your understanding of this add value to what is already existing?
Ask questions: It is perfectly fine to ask questions but the questions must be well thought of. The questions must probe and reveal elements not known before. For this, you need to sufficiently gather background information to attempt to ask your mentor questions on the way forward.
Deliver: After the process of listening, absorbing, reflecting and probing, comes analysis. Take it as a challenge to show your insights. All businesses and organizations seek results so give them what they want, to the best of your ability and understanding.
(The writer is a faculty at NMIMS, Bengaluru)