Adopting a holistic mentorship model in colleges can benefit both students, as well as the companies looking to recruit them
Most students are unable to capture the different philosophies that drive expectations for academic excellence and ideal career pathways. Isn’t it the responsibility of educators to ensure that students receive the necessary resources to achieve what they are capable of?
This is where mentorship becomes important. Mentorship is an opportunity to provide a student with the necessary academic and emotional support. Most colleges don’t have a platform to provide holistic mentorship to students. What does this involve?
Content for learners
Today, the resources that are part of classroom teaching are not enough for real-world requirements. One solution is to have a platform that gives access to “quality” content by top faculty across universities. This will enable students from tier-2 and tier-3 colleges to get such content and also teach students various other skills that will also make them job ready.
How many actually know which career path to pursue when they enter college? Some get some guidance from family members, others find mentors in seniors and teachers, but most are clueless. Career guidance should be mandatory and personalised to each student. It should help learners decide which career paths are most aligned to their interests and guide them to achieve a defined goal. This should be continuous rather than one-stop. A student’s career goal is evolutionary and a good mentor can assist him/her with his/her professional evolution. So, chalking out an end-to-end path, developing milestones and keeping it flexible can help one land his/her dream job/university.
Students face many challenges including academic pressure, relationship issues, parental pressure, ragging, cyber bullying … all of which affect their mental health. Unfortunately, most people are not willing to seek help because of the stigma attached as well as the lack of psychological support systems in schools and colleges. One way to resolve this is to have tech-enabled solutions since there will not be a need for the counsellor to be physically present and to maintain anonymity. Equally important is to conduct awareness drives to sensitise people towards mental health issues. Students need to know how important it is to seek help and not ignore their mental well being.
The current job market needs people who have good leadership skills, enhanced soft skills and are capable of innovating. Universities provide opportunities in the form of clubs, activities and managing fests but soft skills training also needs to focus on developing empathy. These skills can be mapped in the initial months of undergraduate study, and periodic checks conducted to see if it is developing as planned or if any amendments are required. This may take time and effort but will be an immense boost to the students’ performance.
Connecting recruiters and candidates
Many colleges still do not have a formal placement process. Even in on-campus recruitment, students are generally not aware about all companies. Ideally, they should be made aware of all possible options to empower them to select the firm of their choice. What is required here is recruiter and candidate mapping. Technology can help with this and make the recruitment process easier and more effective, both for companies and students.
Colleges should invest in mentoring relationships so that all students benefit from it. It is time to develop customised solutions for students that cater not just to their academic requirements but also offer career guidance, psychological and emotional support, and soft skill enhancement. A complete mentorship approach should take the students’ individual qualities and interests into account and help them grow in a holistic manner.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are personal.
Smarthveer Sidana is an IIT Delhi alumnus and a Harvard HCONF Scholar.
Rajesh Khanna is Dean of Student Affairs and Professor of Chemical Engineering, IIT Delhi.