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Summer jobs can pave your future
Anagh Pal, Outlook Money | April 28, 2007
This summer you could work in a caf� or a pizza outlet. This will beat the heat and ensure that you have sufficient pocket money, but that is all there is to the experience.
Instead, you could do something that will pay you dividends long after the season is over -- summer training.
If you are enrolled in a professional course like engineering or an MBA, doing an internship would be mandatory. While that would not be the case if you are pursuing graduation from a general stream, summer training can be still a smart option. Only it would need some enterprise on your part. This could give you the much-needed edge when you apply for jobs, or for higher studies.
Where and how can you apply? The concept has not yet gathered steam in India among general stream colleges. "It is unfortunate that summer training for general students is not yet institutionalised," says Purvi Seth, vice president, Shilputsi, an HR consulting firm.
But, make a start. If your college has a placement cell, get in touch and find out which companies recruit students from your course. In case your college does not have the facility, do some scouting on your own. Check out company websites for summer training offers. Search advertisements in newspapers and job portals. A relative or friend may also be able to help.
Akshay Verma, a third-year Mathematics student of St. Stephen's College, Delhi, wanted a career in Finance. Last summer, he contacted Standard Chartered Bank through the placement cell in his college. After the initial short-listing and an interview, he got a place at the bank.
What do you get in return? You can't be sure about the money. While Verma got Rs 5,000 a month for his internship, Deepali Gupta, another student from the same college, didn't get anything for her stint at a daily newspaper. But, that does not mean her effort was in vain.
Learn even if you do not earn. If you have the zeal and are serious about the work you are doing, summer training will definitely add to your skill set. "It can be quite beneficial for interns who stretch themselves, and do more than their brief," says Madhavi Lall, HR head, Standard Chartered Bank, India.
Verma is a case in point. During the month he spent at Standard Chartered, his job was to compare the treasury investments and holdings of various banks. But he didn't limit himself to that. He did a project on non-performing loans in India out of his own interest. Now he can claim better understanding on financial institutions in comparison to any fresher.
Gupta, on her part, got the requisite field exposure. Now, she will have bylines to show when she applies for a job in any of the media houses.
Know what you are cut out for. Your friends and relatives are pushing you for that glam job in an ad agency or an MBA degree. You are partly convinced but higher studies is not a bad option for you. Don't know what to do? Summer training can provide you the answer. "Summer jobs expose students to a particular field and enable them to make informed career choices," says John Lancelot Cutinha, vice-president (human resources), Big 92.7 FM.
Parul Gupta, who graduated from St. Xavier's College, Kolkata, in 2004, recounts how a summer training stint at an advertising agency made her realise she was not cut out for the job. "I was asked to write ad campaigns in a few lines," she says. "This was not what I was looking for. It struck me that I should pursue my first love that is English literature." She went on to do her Masters in English literature from Leeds University, UK.
Have an edge. Once out of college, you will be competing with several others for the same job. Marks help, but your experience last summer could take you a long way.
Explains Dony Kuriakose, director, Edge, an executive search firm based in Delhi, "A summer training may not help someone get a better position, but it certainly increases the chances of getting a job. A student moves beyond the theoretical and gets the real-world perspective and acquires certain skills on the job. All this makes him look better than a fresher. He comes across as a guy with initiative." It can sway decisions if the board gets two candidates with similar capabilities, he adds.
"Many students use summer jobs as launching pads," says Cutinha.
According to Anirudh Sinha, placement officer, St. Xavier's College, Kolkata, "It gives them work exposure. The company provides a certificate which gives the students an edge."
Bag a job. If you are good at your work and put in that extra bit of effort, you may even bag a permanent job while on training. "Companies get adequate time to evaluate the candidates and catch them early. Good trainees are likely to be retained. It is an opportunity to get an offer way before the campus recruitment begins," says Lall.
Seth agrees: "If you have done something meaningful, you might be promised future employment."
Retention is dependent on performance and other factors like attitude, culture-fit, says Cutinha. "It makes business sense for an organisation to consider retaining trainees who fit the bill as they exhibit steeper learning curves as compared to freshers and heir experience can be leveraged by the organisation," he says.
Study in your dream university. Summer training can also come in handy if you want to pursue higher studies abroad.
Says Parul Gupta, who had gone through the long and tedious process of admissions in various schools in the UK: "When you are applying for Masters, experience makes a big difference, especially for courses like advertising and marketing communication, where practice is more important than theory. The university gathers that you have exposure in the field and that you are really keen on the subject."
Verma knew that to shift from a graduation degree in Mathematics to a career in Finance would not be easy. He made the most of his internship. Now he has got admission calls from Oxford University, London School of Economics and Warwick University to pursue his Masters in Financial Economics. "It is mandatory for anybody applying to these universities to have some formal training; I knew that my job experience would count," he says.
The final word. So, if you want to stay ahead of the race, you know what to do this summer. However, Seth warns: "See if you are ready for it and if you really want to work during the summer vacations. Do not get carried away by the trend." "It's a good way of spending the summer, especially if you are working in an air-conditioned office," she adds.