SAM- Fostering Healthy Interaction

Noticed a marked increase in the number of wide-eyed adults roaming the institute right after midsems? Then you probably spied a couple of alumni that came to attend the Student Alumni Meet (SAM) on the 24th and 25th of September, organised by the Student Alumni Relations Cell (SARC) along with Dean ACR office.

“SAM started with a vision of an event where free interaction between students and alumni was encouraged. Very few opportunities exist for students and alumni to mingle with each other, and even those are fairly formal. Alumni are merely viewed as “people who donate to the institute”. SAM strives to demolish this perception and allow for an opportunity where students get to interact, network and socialise with alumni” says Mihir Patel, Overall Coordinator of SARC and Institute Secretary of Alumni Affairs.

SAM started off with the Alumni Student Mentorship Program (ASMP) Lunch, one of SARC’s oldest initiatives. Students were allotted different alumni as mentors based on similarities in their departments and career interests. Alumni mentors advise “Mentees”, who are 3rd, 4th and 5th year students, on variety of issues pertaining to life after IIT. The Lunch provided the first opportunity for the mentors and the mentees to get acquainted.

The idea of IIT students accepting industrial projects from companies was pitched to the alumni in a short, 45 minutes Industry Defined Problem Session. The presentation elicited the model through which Industrial projects could be made available to IIT students. The model suggested that departments would accept projects from industries andthe students who were to work on these projects would be selected by professors. The projects would be funded by the industry with additional monetary remuneration for viable final solutions. While there were some shortcomings in the implementation, as pointed out by some alumni, the initiative could boost R&D at IITB.

Taking advantage of the wisdom and experience that was gathered together at one place, SARC organized a Networking cum Buddy Sessions between students and alumni from the IT and Software, Finance and banking, Consultancy, and FMCG sectors. The interactive session gave students a feel about the current and future trends in each of these sectors. A range of issues from the required resume points and skill sets to get in to the kind of work hours and lifestyle were addressed by alumni. The enthusiasm of the alumni made the audience feel at home and open up with all big and small concerns regarding their life-after-IIT.

Beyond the Horizons, an interactive session was held ina VMCC auditorium which was host to more empty seats than full. In thesession, students interacted with alumni who took had taken off-beat paths on their road to success. The session had three speakers namely, Saumil Majumdar-founder of EduSports India, Ravi Kuchimanchi- the man behind Aid for India’s Development among NRIs in USA, Australia and India, and  Ankur Pegu and Sudeep Kapila- owners of Swasth India. After initial introductions,the audience grilled the speakers with a mixture of questions, serious and silly. The talks made one realize thatgraduating students can look beyond thestandard career options and that a successful enterprise however radical or unorthodox means having tolearnto cope with repeated failures and never giving up on your idea.

The final event and arguably the most anticipated event was the Panel Discussion on the Importance of Position’s of Responsibilities (POR) in a student’s life. The panel was composed of Anip Sharma and Vardan Kabra, successful entrepreneurs and PoR holders in their college days, S.N.Vaidya, the marketing head of Godrej, the faculty representative as Prof. Kunde, Chairman Cultural Affairs and the student representative Jhonny Jha, (Head of Institute-Student Mentorship Programme). The panel stressed on the fact that academics form an important part of a student’s life. They agreed however that it is a combination of PORs & academics which makes a rounded personality and that, skills such as leadership, management, decision making & time management cannot be taught in the classroom. “Academics is the 1, and your extra-curriculars are the zeros you put after the 1. Unless you have that 1, you have just a bunch of zeros.” was Jhonny Jha’s succinct anecdote. The discussion was followed by a Q&A session which saw an involved audience where questions ranging from the reasons for taking up POR’s to the recent news of government scrapping JEE were intermingled.

SARC’s biggest event of the year had its highs and lows. This year’s event saw a low turnout in most of the sessions and saw networking sessions being turned into doubt-clearing sessions. The idea however, behind several events was commendable was a great experience for those who attended them.

– Animesh Swain, Anish Gupta