Tuesday, July 7, 2015

You are the brand of your college

Try to enhance it… but certainly don’t damage it

Nearly three decades ago when I did my summer project which was an integral part of my PGDM course, I learnt an important and yet painful lesson. My project was with a shoe company and as it was an observation study of buyer behaviour. I really had to work between 6.30 p.m.and 8.30p.m. as most of the shopping happened at these times. Being hell bent on a career in marketing I thought to myself, “let me do something more as I have a lot of spare time.”Although, the motive was laudable I did go about realising this objective in a slightly haphazard manner as you too will soon realise. I set up a meeting with the head of a large market research company who looked at his busy calendar and gave me a date for the following Wednesday. I could not meet him on Wednesday as the boss of the company who gave me the official summer project landed up that day.So I could not go on Wednesday as I had planned to do and landed up on Friday thinking after all it was only two days later and I did have a genuine excuse or so I thought. I was wrong. I have never been spoken to as I was that day by the boss of the research agency. “Do you know what a deadline means?” He thundered.”Did you have an accident? Did you break an arm…. How can you cancel an appointment?Everything he said was perfectly true even if his tone was particularly harsh. My chances of doing an additional project went out of the window thanks to my casual attitude and I learnt an important lesson. Always communicate.You have to close the loop and not leave the other person guessing.

But have things really changed?

Let’s cut to the present. My company brand-comm was recruiting fresh post graduates and after an elaborate screening and interviewing process we recruited three people who wanted to join nearly 6 weeks later. We reluctantly agreed as after all we thought a post graduate course is pretty strenuous and surely students need a break. We designed an elaborate induction and training program that was scheduled to start around their joining.Strangely instead of being excited about their first job our attempts to reach the candidates chosen were unsuccessful as they did not take calls or answer mails. Mymanager understandably upset reached out to the placement officer who had better luck than us in reaching the people chosen. One of them mailed on the very day she was supposed to join saying she was tied up for the next two months. The other two have threatened to join a week later though I am sure that the only certain thing in life is change.Who knows what the future holds for us when it comes to management students?Now I do understand that the students might have had second thoughts about us or even found better options. While that is possible,could it have been handled better? Remember for corporates you are the brand of your college? If you are smart and responsive your college benefits and if you are casual like the people whom we recruited, however bright they may be, the college’s reputation gets a hit. I am wondering if I really should go to this campus next year, after all there are so many management schools.

If I were a student today

Having the benefit of age if not hair would I do things differently if I were a student today?
I would certainly approach this business differently. I would follow the rules of payment instead of trying to work around them. If I had a problem with the placement rules, I would share them with my college not the company.
I would read everything possible on the company’s website, LinkedIn and blogs. If I did not like the opportunity I would not attend the interview.I would know enough about the company to ask sensible questions.
I would remember that I am the brand of my educational institution and would keep recalling that in every interaction with the corporate world.
While branding sounds macro, it is everything you do and that is primarily your attitude and being sensitive to others.Remember, we hire for attitude and train for skills.

In fact that is my key message to all of you out there. You are the brand of your college. Try to enhance it but for God’s sake don’t damage it.

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