The gulf between understanding and successfully applying what is taught in college is the largest in the education realm. Patricia Mascarenhas gives students an alternative to narrow this gap.

What you learn in college is very different from what you actually do on the job. Most graduates take up jobs where they end up staying put for years and before they know, it becomes a career. The jump from college to the professional life can be quite a nightmare. It is crucial for students to connect with companies before placements or internships to get a vibe of the industry and the company culture. “Some students attempt to get an understanding of the industry through their seniors or professors who have connections with a company, but there is no established route for us to facilitate this goal,” says Angad Anand, a student.

Even though colleges offer 100 per cent placements these days, companies reach out to students only during the placement season. So in a bid to minimise the gap between classroom and the real world, Purple Squirrel Eduventures, a SINE IIT-Bombay incubated company, has started organising customised industry visits for students from media and engineering streams to over eight locations across India.

Post their launch in 2013, founders Aditya Gandhi and Sahiba Dhandhani have organised customised industrial visits for over 2000 students to more than 80 companies across the country. These industrial visits are a blend of learning and leisure. “We believe travel is a brilliant teacher, so a visit like this ends up staying in the minds of the students as a memorable journey with their friends and serves as an ideal tool for learning,” explains Dhandhani.

Learning is not confined to classrooms alone, it is today, more dynamic and interactive. In classroom teachings, the theoretical concepts do not represent the transparent picture unless a practical aspect is added to it. “Industry visits are an ideal way to build a platform to facilitate relevant dialogue in education, and employability on graduation,” informs Gandhi.

Not only students but companies too get a first mover advantage into the existing talent pool. “It involves considerably less effort by recruiters as compared to the time and energies they invest during placement season,” says Dhandhani further adding, “They get a pulse of the current generation and can prepare better for targeting the right candidates during placements.” Gandhi agrees, “QnA sessions with in-house recruiters gives the company an insight into the kind of candidates awaiting recruitment,” he adds.

Between YouTube, Coursera and EdX, there are more than enough resources of knowledge, what is needed is the will to learn. Companies too value candidates with an application oriented perspective. So a fresher with relevant industrial visits mentioned on his resume will appear more confident and ready for the job world.

Students who wish to take up such visits can simply choose from the list of destinations and companies they want to visit. “They can choose from a host of multi-national companies, social entrepreneurs, start-ups and NGOs and we package the entire experience for them including their travel, tickets, lodging and boarding,” informs Gandhi adding that such an experience would cost a student anywhere between Rs 2,500 for a 2 day industrial visit to Rs 5,000 for a 5 day visit per student.

Speaking about his industrial visit experience with Purple Squirrel, Vishal Vinodkumar, student, SIES College says, “We got to go for leisure journeys across the city which was incorporated in our package, giving us an idea of whether we like the city and if would want to work there.” Gaurav Harsha, student, IEEE head of Xavier Institute of Engineering agrees, “It's almost like an informed holiday where we not only get to learn about different companies but also different places,” he says adding that seeing current practices itself provides an alternate education system that by-passes the limitations of the institutes, and motivates them to learn and fend for themselves.


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