From the archives of Platform to Understanding Reality

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OJT-A Platform to Understanding Reality

It is always important that professional programs like Engineering, Information Technology and Business Studies needs to be taught from a practical dimension, as it is imperative for the learner to understand the nuances before actually starting the work. There is no doubt about the fact that a majority of the graduates, whether at the certificate, diploma, advanced diploma, graduation or even post graduation level falters at the workplace in spite of securing attractive grades and marks. That essentially means the pupils gathered the requisite amount of theoretical input, however they either lack the ability to customize the learning from a practical perspective or do not possess the wherewithal to gather and accumulate practical learning as part of their repertoire. Reasons are not difficult to find, as in most of the cases either the emphasis is more on theoretical teaching or it simply lacks the modern day coordination and balance needed for a theory-practical combo. The student therefore lands up ill equipped to handle the modern day challenges posed by the workplace. To do away with such shortcomings, leading academic institutes, colleges and universities have come out with an interface which can gel the theory and practical in the right proportion so that the graduates can find their feet in the industry right from the word go. The experience yours truly had about guiding students during On the Job Training (OJT) were mostly in India, especially when the MBA students were undergoing their summer training in different companies and industries all across India. In the short tenure, yours truly had with Ibra College of Technology, at Sultanate of Oman; it was evident that OJT is a handy tool everywhere for the students to metamorphose into true professionals. The article points some points so as to make OJT more effective for the students.

Importance of Specialization

There are abundant courses being offered as core and electives or what is commonly referred as area of specialization. For a student pursuing studies in business studies he may opt for human resource, office management, electronic business, or even accounts and finance. It is extremely important for the students to choose the right specialization commensurate with his/her interests, abilities and future plan. One wrong decision at this level may lead to a cascade of problems subsequently which may hamper the career growth of the individual. This can sorted out if the concerned students have a detailed talk with their academic advisors or mentors so as to get the right counseling before zeroing into the subject. For instance a student opts for accounts and specialization even after securing better marks in human resource needs to be understood from a practical perspective. It may be that it was only because most of his/her friends opted for accounts and finance and therefore the individual neglected his own strength to join his old pals. The specialization is an important cog as the OJT is generally pursued in the area of specialization. Now if a student decides to choose a subject where he lacks interests or has a brittle fundamental then it is natural for him to complete an OJT which would serve only cosmetic purpose. On the contrary if he chooses a subject which had been his strength and favorite, then it would result in excitement, adventure culminating in a willingness to learn.

Preparation for an OJT

The industry-institute interface is the starting point for all interactions taking place between industries and the college or universities. The Industry-Institute-Interface (III) gathers necessary information from corporate heads at different levels, working across sectors which are then percolated to the teaching staff. Teaching staff considers the details and customizes their academic delivery, content finalization, assignments, project works, operation workouts and live projects. It is very important for the theoretical delivery and the allied activities to have the necessary linkage with the actual happening at the industrial. Absence of dissemination and implementation of such information often leads to an independent approach where the ultimate sufferers are the students. It’s because the students are fed on theoretical inputs opposite to what is needed at the industry level. It is therefore very important to maintain the channels of communication, where the necessary flexibility can lead to contemporary inputs and teachings. The lesser the dissimilarities in the contents and approaches at the theoretical level, less with be the shock experienced by the students during the OJT.

Continuous Monitoring

Continuous monitoring by the college faculties, generally refereed as OJT guide in coordination with the company guide is important. While the former would be adept in providing theoretical support the later would help at the company level, so that the student can have the right blend of theory and practical while pursuing the OJT. The faculty guide is generally a person from the same discipline in which the student is pursuing his/her OJT so that perfect synchronization is present during the tenure. The ideal coordination between the faculty guide, the company guide and the trainee pursuing the OJT serves multiple purposes for all the stakeholders. The students get the right tonic from both so that he can impress his company boss in an way culminating in a final placement offer immediately after the OJT, the faculty guide would be exposed to a plethora of real life illustrations and examples which can serve as teaching tools in the form of case-lets, case studies, illustrations, examples, situations for student analysis, hints for making research papers etc. to name a few. The company guide would get an opportunity to handpick his prospective employees and train them before they join the professional world. All these benefits would be accrued only if the perfect synergy is established at all levels, which in turn calls for periodic monitoring.

Before an OJT

It is crucial to leverage the last few months before an OJT in a way so that the students are well equipped to handle the challenges offered at the workplace. Few of the steps which could be considered are as follows-

(1) Clarify all basic knowledge pertaining to the subject in which the OJT is supposed to be carried out
(2) Know about the industry and its dynamics in detail
(3) Focus on the domain in which the student would be pursuing the OJT, i.e. whether it is training and development , recruitment, employee satisfaction or any other areas of human resource management
(4) Gather in depth knowledge about the company in which OJT is to be performed
(5) Know about the culture of the organization
(6) Discuss how the theoretical learning can be applied in the practical by having special sessions with course tutors
(7) Continuous updating of knowledge till the OJT starts.

During the OJT

Once the OJT trainee is at the workplace it is important for him/her to observe certain disciplines and conduct. Few of them are listed below-

(1) Understand and align with the company culture
(2) Avoid complaining about the hardships and rather take them as learning challenges
(3) Observe, learn and question everything at the workplace
(4) Relate the theory learnt at the classroom with that of the happenings at the workplace
(5) Realize the difference between theory and practical and how the both are assimilated together
(6) Skills required to succeed at the workplace and whether the trainees possess all of them or need to acquire some
(7) Network with the employees of the organization for future correspondence and help
(8) Instill the practice of learning, unlearning and relearning, the major driver for survival in a competitive environment.

Once the OJT is over it is important to make the learning in the form of a report, so that the same can be retained for presentation during job interviews and also refers as and when they are needed. Moreover, continuing with the relationships made during the OJT would help the trainee to get information about future openings and the changes happening in the company and the industry.

Manishankar Chakraborty

About manishankarscribbles

A management trainer, consultant and faculty with experiences in South Asia, Middle East and Australasia. I am also present in and apart from .
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