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Welcome sir, may I help you?" says the teenager, with an endearing smile on her face as you enter your favourite coffee shop. From mopping floors to serving fries, she does it with pride and elan. Well versed in English, she and her mates are suave, smart and trendy, working swiftly to serve Indians and foreigners pleasantly.
Over the past few years the student-oriented service industry is booming and one gets to see a good number of students working in cafes, eating joints, event promotion companies, BPO outfits and retail outlets of big brands. These service sectors believe in young talent and skills, with the motto of 'catch-em-young'.
Students in the age group of 17-22 are in demand today. They are flexible and can be easily moulded according to the needs and requirements of the job, points out Neeraj Chopra of Pizza hut. "Students are always preferred for their energy, zeal and commitment towards their work. They are young and well versed with the likes and dislikes of the youth, thereby adding freshness and appeal for the restaurant among the college crowd," he says.
Other employers point out that the basic reason for shortlisting students are the raw skills that they possess. "There is lot of demand of college students in the corporate world and trade promotion services. It is easy to mould their raw skills in the desired way," says Rashmi Kapoor of PAB placements, which provides companies with 15-20 students per month.
"The placements triple during the three months of the summer. On an average, 300 students are hired for promotions and events," says Manav Khanna of Solutions, Event and Management Company.
Experts say that the trend among the students to work along with their academic pursuits is on the rise, which is a positive change. "Today's youth are looking for opportunities to work part-time or is taking up summer jobs while pursuing their academic interests. This is an extremely positive and appreciable trend, that is definitely on the rise. Financial independence is one of the main factors motivating youngsters to work part-time, with the additional bonus of gaining experience and exposure to corporate culture, for future career enhancement," says Rajat Gandhi, Head of Marketing, Timesjobs.com.
"Students are driven primarily by the high salaries on offer in sectors such as ITeS and BPO. A job in such an industry earns them around Rs 9,000 to Rs 18,000 a month. They leave once their academic courses begin. Being fast and eager learners, adaptable and flexible in nature, usually ready to devote long hours, they are in great demand," he adds.
"In the age of cutthroat competition in the job sphere, it's a good idea to work along with studies and gain confidence. It took me long to convince my parents to permit me to give tuitions and undertake promotions after college hours. They could comfortably pay for all my expenses. But right now my priority is to gain experience, and who minds the extra money after all," says Ashima Prakash, an IP university student.
Deepanker, who is pursuing an MBA degree, says "Working at Pizza Hut is a great experience. I get to interact with different faces all day and carry myself confidently. The Rs 21 per hour job is enough to meet my daily expenditure," he says.
While the lure of respectable salaries baits students, the parents have their own views. "It's definitely a very healthy trend for children to have a sense of responsibility, spending their free time in constructive activities rather than loitering on the college campus," says Neena Vohra, mother of an 18-year-old.
On the flip side, Archana, mother to a teenager, says: "I would not like my son to work while studying. It would be a distraction and would shift focus from academics. I think there's an appropriate time for him to study, which is now. Besides, these jobs are not readily acceptable in society and in the family, so the thought of earning at the age of 19 is a no-no."
Websites like earnyourcash.com, indianclassifieds.com, hotjoblinx.com , careerbuilder.com, bangalore.kijiji.in provide students with a plethora of opportunities. And students eager to gain that edge are flocking to them. But are their families ready to see their teenager sweat it out at a McDonald's outlet or event management company?
Fifty-seven per cent of all American college students have jobs, according to Sebago Associates (an economic consulting firm which conducted survey on working students). In 2002, one in ten college students attended full-time classes and worked full-time. It's been an ongoing trend in the west, where students make the best of their non-studying hours by earning a few bucks. So is India's youth set to join the bandwagon of early earners? If the current trend is anything to go by, it certainly seems so!
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