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Managing Transition

Students in higher education are on the verge of taking up jobs in various sectors pertaining to their field of specialisation. These students are in the age group of 20-25 years and are full of energy, enthusiasm, initiative, subject knowledge, purity of thought and an extremely high drive to do something. What they lack at this vulnerable point in life is direction, self-motivation and a feel of real issues.

With the liberalisation of Indian economy and opening up of frontiers, both at the national and international level, there is an abundance of job opportunities for students pursuing higher education. Unlike in the past, the basic issues of food, shelter and basic financial security are already taken care of. These students now have to strive to meet higher levels of needs.

Although the job market is full of job seekers and employers, surprisingly, there is a dearth of talented individuals with a positive attitude and sincerity of purpose. As a result, although an employer recruits a bunch of qualified / experienced individuals every year, the net output is below expectations either due to mismatch of job profiles and aptitude or a high employee turnover.

When a student makes a transition from academics to a professional set-up , there occurs a change in perception, expectations and objectives on the part of the student as well as the employer. Perception is the mental comprehension of what is seen, felt and heard physically. A wide difference in perceptions on both sides, when they come in contact with each other, shatters the confidence level on both sides. In fact, nobody is at fault in such situations. Both the parties need to prepare themselves for the expected and unexpected experiences, to be encountered during the transition phase. This situation can be compared with the transition that occurs in the lives of the new bride as well as the groom and his family.

Can we really do something about it? Who is responsible for this? Students, employers, both or the mechanism of recruitment? Do we not owe to our youngsters to help them out of this transition phobia and enable them to make the best use of attributes and strengths that they already possess? This could go a long way in not only helping the youngsters, but also foster higher productivity and prosperity, both for the employers and the nation, besides adding value to the youngsters’ career and resulting in low attrition.

The contributors to the problem are perhaps lack of appreciation, communication gap and non-availability of the right quality of mentors, etc. There are action areas for all of us to contribute to the cause. If we are serious and mean business, the sky is the limit. Let’s examine each area independently:

- Decide your vision in life and draw an action plan accordingly. 
- Prioritise your goals in life – Money, Growth, Family, Health, Job satisfaction, Peace ….. 
- Carry out SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat) analysis and decide your career accordingly. 
- Have absolute goals. Let others not decide about your life and career. 
- Scan the job market. Consult seniors / elders and monitor their moves. 
- When in a new job, learn to read people especially sympathisers. 
- Have a good feel of the company’s rules, procedures and business lines. Have a command on manuals and drawings depending on the nature of business. 
- Developing relationships is key to success in a new and unknown environment. At the same time, maintain the minimum distance necessary in a professional dealing. 
- Do not summarily reject harsh people and accept the polished ones in a hurry. You need to be careful during the first six months. 
- Take failure as a challenge (not as your weakness) and bounce back with even greater vigour. It’s an opportunity for introspection. 
- Gain from the rich experience of seniors / company executives who have spent many more years in the company that you are joining today.

- Look out for talent and not qualifications / experience alone. 
- Appreciate that a new incumbent is fresh from college and has not spent any time in a disciplined work environment. 
- Depute a mentor each for every new incumbent for at least one year to put him / her on the right track and align with the company’s goals. 
- Take out time to know more about them and also about their perception of the new environment. Take corrective action wherever necessary. 
- Focus on their strengths and talent and allocate the jobs as per the best fit. It’s always better to seek choices even if one is not able to satisfy 100% cases. 
- Besides training on business lines, invest on developmental skills and change management from academic to business environment. 
- Do not treat them as inferior and junior. Treat them as EQUALS. They are going to takeover the business lines in time to come. 
- Gain from new and fertile ideas of youngsters.

College/ Institute 
- Develop a good database of suitable industrial houses inducting large number of students passing out from the college. 
- Organise counseling sessions / seminars to prepare the finalists to face interviews, competitive environment and work situations. 
- Impart guidance on selection of jobs / industries considering various educational and demographic factors. 
- Arrange educational tours to relevant industries to provide exposure to prevailing work situations.

- Do not impose your unfulfilled ambitions on your child. It may not fit / interest him/ her. 
- Accept that your ward is unique and incomparable. Focus on his positives and guide accordingly. 
- Take out time to listen to what he or she feels about the career. Even if it is not possible to accord your consent, explain and clarify your rationale. 
- Be and remain with decisions taken by your child and support him / her to your best. He/ she is grown up and responsible now. 
- Protect your child however from bad exposures in a careful and persuasive manner. 
- Do not compare with your time / environment, which is no more there.

- Every job/ position has a more intrinsic social value than even the real one. Let’s not get excessively concerned about that otherwise we will take wrong decisions. 
- Develop a strong social base of positive and like-minded people who can support you in bad and good times. 
- Average people in a society are self-centered and do not feel very happy with others’ progress. They resent internally. Some do it in a very polished manner. Learn to deal with them tactfully without picking up argument. 
- Don’t share your plans with society unless these are implemented. People can frustrate you on so-called hiccups / miss outs.

- Be a person whom your friend can bank upon at any time / situation / crisis whatsoever. 
- Develop a pool of thoughts and information on career choice and organise periodic debates. 
- Once in a job, guide and support each other even if you are in different organisation. Never instigate/ unionise to aggravate the problem. 
- Understand the real meaning of friendship. Don’t try to be your friend’s competitor and act like a friend superficially. It does not serve anybody’s purpose and is mere waste of time.

- Provide a listening sink for your mentee’s problems. 
- Wipe their tears occasionally. Give them the right perspective of realities in life. 
- Meet the boss, peers and parents, if necessary, to ascertain the gravity of problem. Extend required help to your mentee based on the feedback gathered. 
- Be assertive to correct him / her wherever he / she is wrong. Realise that they trust you tremendously and hence would listen to your advice first.

It is evident from the above action areas for each one of us that there is an untapped potential for growth locked up in this transition process. There is tremendous energy with knowledge and ideas with youngsters, which can be channelised into real work energy if the right kind of induction training / mentoring is undertaken. Management will of employer can go a long way in leveraging this youth energy and potential to foster optimized use of resources and generate prosperity.

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