Exposure can make all the difference

Foreign exchange programmes present a fairly delightful prospect for many students — not only do they provide a chance to explore a different educational system and of course, network, but they can also be a lot of fun. Several colleges in the City have tie-ups with universities in different countries, where a few handpicked students are sent to spend weeks or even an entire semester. Many of them also include internships or projects, sometimes for the local companies there — again, the perfect opportunity to get an edge when it comes to placement.

Prachi (left) with two of her friends in the programme.Most students and teachers are of the opinion that exchange programmes go beyond just academic advantages. Prachi, from Acharya Institute of Technology, points out that there’s much more to take back from such stints. “I went to Virginia for a two-month research programme and it was quite an enlightening experience. I stayed with a few other Indian students on the campus but once in the laboratory, I ended up mingling with people from all over the world — it was quite an opportunity,” she recalls, adding that while she was keen to learn more about these students, they were equally interested in her own background. “In some ways, it was an opportunity to showcase parts of our culture there. In fact, we celebrated Independence Day in Virginia,” she states.

Pankaj Ekka, an engineering student, shares this sentiment. He recently visited Germany to research and present a project to a company based there, and says that the things he picked up outside of the classroom were just as intriguing as the lessons learnt in it. “You’re suddenly exposed to a whole different culture, and you get to see how people live there. I could identify some ways in which our City is lagging behind theirs — and vice versa,” he reflects.

Of course, he doesn’t discard the academic importance of his trip. “The manner in which they study leans more towards practical experience, which is why I think I benefited a lot from the classes. But at the end of the day, the sort of exposure we get on the cultural front is a lot more important,” reasons Pankaj.

Padmaraj, a student of NIFT, leans towards the opposite end of the spectrum — he thinks such programmes are invaluable additions to any CV. “I spent 21 days studying at a design college in Switzerland and it was wonderful. We researched design, textiles and European fashion and attended factories and research units based there. These sort of programmes are very helpful if you want to network or look for international placement,” he states.

From an employers’ perspective, students who can boast of attending such programmes come across as confident and broad-minded — something which Ameen-E-Mudassar, a career counsellor, says makes an attractive proposition. “Students who go for such programmes generally aren’t your average bookworm — and companies know that.

These sort of programmes definitely give them an edge, because job interviews are generally about promoting yourself. Recruiters look for something special in students — and this could be it,” he sums up.

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