Fest- the talent test

College fests are a good playground to test your skills. Gauri Rane and Patricia Mascarenhas discuss the qualities students pick up at these fun events.

Gauri Rane and Patricia Mascarenhas

College fests are a good playground to test your skills. Gauri Rane and Patricia Mascarenhas discuss the qualities students pick up at these fun events.

From Xaviers` Malhar to IIT`s Mood I the city`s collegians are bustling with uncharted energy and enthusiasm. Over the years college fests have transformed from being mere cultural `fun` activities to a better planned and well coordinated corporate affair. Through the planning stage, which is usually a year-long process, students learn important boardroom lessons that can guide them through their career paths.

Manjuala Srinivasan, head of department, BMM, KC College says, “College festivals are a great place for students to learn various managerial skills. From brainstorming on a theme, to handling brand sponsorships, to managing various competitions, they get hands on training.”

Every event has its own share of fun times and showdowns. Brainstorming sessions first become debates and then escalate into arguments. Territorialism, ego hassles, favouritism, flouting deadlines, getting sponsorships are all a part of the game teaching important qualities like leadership, teamwork, coordination and managing finances.

“As a contingent leader (CL) for KC College`s Blitzkrieg, I was meant to recruit the right people for every event that we were participating in. My job was to get them to do their tasks on time,” says Sukanya Subramaniam, third year BMM students at National College.

Most contingent leaders, heads of various departments, volunteers and participants work around the clock to make the college event a grand success. A good performance at any fest or event is based on how they are able to keep their team together, motivate participants and also at the same time, represent the college with pride. “My stint as a CL taught me how to get work done. I learnt to be extra persistent and realised I had to be the kind of leader I myself would like to listen to,” says Subramaniam.

Whether you are heading a team or are a volunteer, being a part of a college fest works best for most students. “Learning doesn`t happen only for those who are in charge, even students who are volunteering get to learn a lot,” says Sarah Mendonca, a second year student of M.Sc. Geology at St Xavier’s College, who was in-charge of management at national inter-collegiate Geology Festival, Terra.

Many times CLs and organisers are in a fix as they have to deal – sometimes sternly- with friends who are either heads of departments, participants or volunteers. But students today have learnt to overcome this challenge. “I had to get my friends to finish their work and practice on time. As a CL it was my job to make sure they took me seriously,” informs Subramaniam.

Louis points to another important quality. “A leader of a group needs to be stern but at the same time has to be humble.”

Working for a college festival is an unpaid job, students working under you have an option of quitting any time, so one has to be extremely careful, he advises.

Learning to manage finances is a big take away. Any grand event needs a good investment by sponsors. How do you pitch your fest to a sponsor? How much are they willing to spend? What are the deliverables you can promise to them? All these are factors that the core team members have to keep in mind. “Students make sure to maintain proper account as they know the sponsors are watching,” says Srinivasan.

Teamwork is the most important ingredient that cannot be missed at any point. You learn to work with others, get to know people you hadn`t known before. “Not only do you discover the talent in others but it also helps you discover your own talents,” says Subramaniam.

“In the end of it all about how you have managed to handle so many different individuals, coordinated with different teams, worked with participating colleges and managed the crowds. You have to work as one big machine,” says Abhirath Sharma, media coordinator at IIT-Bombay`s Mood Indigo. Louis agrees, “Even if a volunteer makes a mistake, the first thing that needs to be done is to fix it rather than argue or fight over it.”

Sponsors often offer internships, sometimes even paid for, to winners. Festivals give students a sense of direction albeit temporarily, in an otherwise mundane college life.
They gain worldly experience and also manage to build a portfolio of certificates, which in turn adds to good job prospects.