With every college now hosting an inter-college cultural festival, students are inundated with opportunities to develop and hone skills required to secure a job – team work, confidence and networking. Vinita Bajari reports
Earlier this month, it all began with Malhar at St Xavier’s College. It will go on with Umang at N M College, Kaleidoscope at Sophia, Kiran at KC College, Mood Indigo at IIT Bombay and Kshitij at Mithibai College. And these are not all. Mumbai witnesses numerous inter-collegiate festivals every year, inviting students from across the city (and perhaps, the country) to participate in the various events. Undoubtedly, students in their college days look forward to having a wild time with thousands thronging the college campuses to have their share of fun. The other side of the coin presents the picture of hard work that has been put in by the organisers.
These events, handled almost exclusively by students of the college, are now handled like any other national or even international events! A few decades ago what started out as inviting students from other colleges to participate and have a little bit of healthy competition and fun, has now spun into a professionally organised corporate event where student-led teams work like any other professional organisation. There are teams for marketing, public relations, hospitality, technicals, security, and so on! Mistake not these teams for a bunch of students carrying out the work over cups of cutting chai. No sir. The chai is still and fixture in teams meetings, but the teams are lead by a chairperson, vice chairpersons and team leaders or heads. Responsibilities are charted out and clearly demarcated so that the work is carried out smoothly. And of course help will step in to iron out the creases.
“The teams are oriented in such a manner that it feels like running important operations of an organisation. It requires a lot of hard work, and many of us are on a constant adrenalin high,” says Ruchita Rupani, who has been part of such an organising committee before. The events are scaled up to such a level that they not only have sponsors, but also media partners, radio partners, security partners and so on. The students network hard to gain these partnerships to make the festival as grand as possible. No wonder, one must realise that there is much more to learn at these events than one can ever imagine. Today, these pioneering festivals exemplify the real-world skills one can learn through extracurricular activities.
Apart from honing soft skills, the college festivals provide the backdrop against which all kinds of creative concepts are welcomed and nurtured. “It is the constant creativity of the students that takes the college festivals to such levels,” opines economics professor Sunita Rawat, who has mentored a few committees during her college festival.
Apart from being creative, students work out every detail meticulously, so as to be prepared for D-Day. Their logos are ready, venues are decided, events are taken care of, and of course, since the last few years, the social angle, is being taken care of as well.
While some of the festivals are well established and are overwhelmed with applications for volunteers, others are still in their nascent stages and need a little bit of push to make them as popular as the others. Even then, there is something to learn at every step of the way.
“Students devote time, energy, creativity and every sometimes even their monetary resources when working on a festival. And they do it all for fun, not for money or recognition!” says Meeta Bhatt, who was part of the finance team in her college. She adds, “At a professional organisation, the event would be outsourced to an event management firm. In college, we get the experience first-hand!”
The most important things that students gain, apart from having loads of fun is that their confidence levels are pushed really high. They realise they can achieve what they set out for. Apart from that, many parents and educationists believe that working on these festivals engages students in a creative and positive manner, and provides a constructive use of their faculties and energy.
Students like Bhatt are the driving force behind some of the largest festivals in the city. “The main thing I have learnt here is management. When you start something from scratch, you really learn the steps of management from where you should begin from to visualising where you should end up.”
See the specialised skills students develops during fests on page 2 – Skills with will