Abdul Rahman
Project Leader,
Hexaware Technologies

One of the biggest idiosyncrasies within our academic setup lies in the way we produce an astonishing number of highly skilled, technically proficient graduates, and yet a large number of them fail to find the level of employment their qualification merits.

If we were to step back for a moment and look at it a bit differently, away from the usual factors everyone loves to blame: governments, educational systems and so on, we might see that it has quite a bit to do with our attitudes – towards studies, life skills and personalities – and what this translates to in the corporate world.

Here are some interesting factors; and how our attitude affects them.

The most abused word in the English language as far as academia goes; virtually every school child has it hammered into their heads to be 'disciplined'

There goes the discipline

Perhaps the most abused word in the English language as far as academia goes; virtually every school child has it hammered into their heads to be 'disciplined'. From pressed school uniforms to notebooks wrapped in sheets of brown and plastics, strict timings for lunch, study and play, an array of rules and methods are employed by educators to instill this in every school, college and university in the country.

Unfortunately it doesn't really seem to have the intended effect as long as all this is being done simply for the sake of doing it, without any real interest or understanding of discipline.

How many of our university-level students (and subsequent graduates into the workforce) think its okay to miss the first half hour of class? Or submit assignments days overdue? or wear improper shoes, just because "My roommate took the other one"?

It now comes as a rude shock when the young graduate fresh out of college is expected – now as an employee – to show up on time everyday, dress professionally and display the traits they never paid attention to while in college.

Study? What Study?

Among the pathetic stereotypes widely portrayed by the film industry are that college students carry only one book, get around by hanging onto buses by the foot-board, and that the most important aspect of a student is being the macho center of attention in class. And that no one really studies.

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(Honestly, when was the last time our hero from a college-based movie was also an ace student?)

Because the media also profoundly influences young mindset, some students end up holding up such movies as the benchmark for academic behavior, and this causes damage that's only realized once the candidates leave college and hit the industry.

Theoretical grades lacking an in-depth knowledge, insufficient practical experiences and being unaware of the newer developments in the subject all contribute to a disjoint experience and one that makes the industry look at the "fresh" graduate with dismay. Of course sometimes, this is also caused by insufficient exposure and facilities at the institution, but in any case a lot can be set right by a mindset tuned towards future goals.

English language skills

Let's face it: English is not our first language and there's a good chance we'll probably never be as good as a native speaker.

But it doesn't mean we have to speak like a Simpsons character.

Note that the problem actually isn't "communication skills" because a lot of our graduates can communicate fairly fluently and efficiently within their native languages. The barrier arises when the communication switches to English – the emphasis here being on actual English and not Tamil/Hindi variants often used.

Trouble is, when someone attempting to converse in English is subject to ridicule and mockery by peer groups, a lot of college students reserve English communication for purely academic needs; and because its only practice that makes perfect, their grasp of the English language stays this way at a time when this is a crucial requirement for the industry….and one that young graduates seem the least prepared for.

A world of cultural differences

Another area where the young graduate is oblivious to the real world is in knowing the formalities and general culture of the work place. From formatting emails to addressing coworkers, there's a right way to do things – much different from the way they are done at college

Unfortunately a lot of young graduates seem content in transferring their lifestyles from the university dorms to the office cubicle. In the corridors of the office, this manifests itself in many ways; from immature email signatures (sometimes even with animations!) to official documents worded as if written to their best friend. These are things that can be easily avoided if the potential candidate makes the effort to understand the differences in an office environment and develops a professional outlook on this.

In conclusion, we see that because a lot of this is caused by an indifferent attitude towards work-life, the same can be set right to a large extent by a positive attitude, coupled with a change in approach to work with the existing facilities. After all, thousands of other graduates do make it big, despite being influenced by similar conditions.

The key to our success lies in accepting that we do sometimes have problems, and by making key changes to our attitudes, a lot more qualified graduates can fit in with the wide world of the corporate and go on to become individuals that do our country proud.

About the Author

--Abdul Rahman is currently working as Project Leader / Onsite Coordinator in Hexaware Technologies. He has overall 5 years of experience in Airlines practice (Passenger Services)