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Is taking a Drop Year in 2020 a good career strategy? – IILM’s Advice for Students

While the whole world is battling Corona, there are many students who have their own battles to wage. This is especially those who have appeared for Class XII exams and they may be worried for their future. A few exams of CBSE students are still pending. The results are yet to come. It is a critical year for them, given their decisions to take admissions in graduation. Some of them were aspiring to go abroad. Now all their dreams seem to be at a standstill.

Well, dear students and their equally concerned parents – The government regulations are no way indicating a pause in education – they have stated in their recent guidelines to delay starting the academic year, but it will begin. You have all options open as you would have earlier. The only thing that has changed now is a shift in the day of commencement of the session. So the question of dropping a year should not occur in your mind.

On dropping a year, one or all of these may happen-
– Your drop year will stay on your CV for the rest of your life. It may affect your candidature for selection, as recruiters are looking for all possible reasons to reject the applicants. You may not even qualify for the selection process, as in several global multinational corporations, a drop in the year is one of the reasons for not shortlisting the profile of the candidate.
– You may be the only one in your class or peer group to sit at home exploring options for the subsequent year- it generally leads to a dip in the motivation level and its not easy to sustain yourself during this time. The morale goes down and depression sinks in.
– You tend to lose confidence in your abilities to start afresh.
– It will also give the impression to any third person that you are not at all adaptable in nature – you do not have the strength to fight it out and brave the circumstances.
– Most importantly, you are still not sure that you will get what you are seeking.

We have all spent more than a month at home, and we do not know till when this will continue. Do not elongate this stay even further – believe me it is going get tougher
by the day. We have already had enough of negativity since the spread of the pandemic – let us not increase the problems in our lives. Make an informed decision about the course you want to enroll in – there are abundant prospects for you. All educational institutions, particularly the private ones are functioning online, and Universities like IILM are all prepared to welcome students in the new session whenever it starts. We are equipped to conduct both online and offline classes. Our faculty are developing innovative pedagogies to make the class more engaging. We have been ensuring that there is no academic loss for the existing students and the learning did not stop a single day during this lockdown period. We have finished our course syllabus for the semester, have conducted Club activities, we have done mentoring sessions, we have guided students for dissertation, we have conducted guest sessions for the subjects we are teaching and we are ready to conduct the exams. We have given ample opportunities for students to intern from home, and
almost all our students have their WFH summer internships in place. As faculty, we are working hard to respond to the situation to the best of our capabilities.

If you were aspiring for a foreign degree, as of now, you should take admission in an Indian Institution for now, and perhaps go abroad for your post-graduation. By that time, you will become aware of your career interests and you will be mature enough to take care of yourself. These next two years will be trying times, and your adamant desire to go to foreign shores may end up being an obstacle for your successful career. Things will certainly become normal – but how soon none of us know. When International borders and travel will open, it is unknown. And how soon they will start accepting applicants and student candidatures for admissions is also not clear.

But what is known for sure is that our career path has to be charted by us alone. Dropping a year has never been a good strategy. And in a world of uncertainty, it is a strict no-no. Based on my experience of two decades, I can only say that think positive, explore available options and get a stress-free life for yourself. Let these turbulent times not affect your careers.

Authored By
Dr Sona Vikas (Associate Professor – HR & OB)

Mentoring at IILM

The word ‘mentor’ may be described in simple terms as a person who gives a younger or less experienced person help and advice over a period of time, especially at work or school. In this context, ‘mentor’ is understood as a person who provides assistance and guidance to his or her ‘mentee’- the person who is being guided, and the objective of ‘mentoring’ is to bring out and nurture the best possible abilities in the ‘mentee’.

It may sound clichéd, but the fact is that in current times we do not want our leaders to be a knowledge bank. Instead, we want them to manifest themselves as dynamic individuals who are capable of handling various situations and people at work. IILM has the tradition of implementing a robust mentoring program for each and every student in order to ensure that its graduate and post-graduate students are prepared to handle the world outside.

The various aspects of the mentoring program at IILM are:

  • Academic and Career Counselling: When a student is selected to pursue studies at IILM, s/he is also allocated a dedicated mentor, considering the fact that young and fresh undergraduates and graduates have numerous expectations related to their academics, career and future plans. The mentor remains in regular contact with the student providing guidance and insights to the mentee. The focus is on academic and professional planning, in addition to personal development.
  • Direction and Guidance: At IILM, the objective is to not only to focus on the core job of guaranteeing academic learning to the students, but also ensuring that within the framework of the mentoring program, mentees share their aspirations and areas of interest with their mentor. The mentor then extends to them all the necessary direction and guidance, which may shape them as effective and successful leaders of tomorrow.
  • Identification of Strengths and Opportunities: The mentor helps the mentee identify his or her strengths and areas of opportunities and development in order to create a nurturing environment. This allows the mentee to achieve his or her academic and career goals through regular interactions between the two.

To quote a few examples:

  • There are students who need help in expanding their family business. In such a situation, the mentor usually connects them to the faculty who has specialized in family business studies or the Entrepreneurship Development Cell (EDC) that caters to nurturing young entrepreneurs.
  • Similarly, there are students who wish to work with leading organizations. With the rich pool of faculty at IILM, who come from industry as well academic backgrounds, the mentor helps provide an understanding of the industry operations to the mentee. The Career Development Cell (CDC) works closely with the mentor to make the students employable.

Thus, the process functions on the basis of regular interactions, expressing and meeting expectations and sharing experiences and follow ups with the mentees. The outcome of mentoring program is, hence, transformation of undergraduates into responsible business professionals.

Mentoring Plan for Staff and Faculty Members

It is noteworthy to mention that the mentoring program is structured not only for the students but also for the all the faculty and staff members. When a new joinee becomes a part of the IILM family, the senior faculty and staff members, including the Deans and the Directors mentor them to understand the modus operandi of the system. During this process, which may be defined as the learning curve, the new joinees understand the dynamics of the system, the process flow of their job profile and are provided continuous inputs and feedback to handle their roles independently.

In a nutshell, the mentoring program is an integral part of the IILM system, which enables each and every individual to define their goals and expectations, draft a plan and then work on the accomplishment of those goals.