What, Why and How of Group Discussion

Group discussion is a communicative situation wherein participants are brought together/come together to discuss a specific issue/topic at hand. This could be a formal situation or an informal situation, wherein you are sitting with a group of friends and table your point of view, listening to the point of view of the other’s present, considering it and analyzing their perspective, have an healthy discussion around it and reach to a conclusion.

The discussion enriches you, as you gain more knowledge by the end of the discussion and may help you get more clarity on the topic. It also gives you an opportunity to speak and organize your thoughts, helps you flush out your fear of public speaking and get more confident with time. Not just this, but it helps you to learn to respect other’s opinion and behave when you don’t agree with them.

Same principals are applicable to a formal Group Discussion or GD. Formal GDs are conducted mostly by institutes to select a candidate and by organizations as a means to filter prospective employees.It is used as one of the preliminary elimination rounds used by the organizations to filter out large number of participants in one shot. The ones who successfully cross this impediment, are lead to the next round of technical and personal interviews.

Even if a candidate is extremely academically inclined and has done an internship from the most relevant of profiles and organizations, yet the candidate can’t escape this challenge of sitting together and sensibly debating on a topic within the given guidelines and timelines.

It tests several aspects of his personality. It tests how well read he is, is he aware of what is going around him? His communication skills. His ability to hold onto his opinion and support it with facts and logical arguments and not cow down even as the pressure mounts. It tests his tactfulness while disagreeing. His endurance as a leader as well as his conduct as a team player is on display during this particular round.

Since, it is the litmus test and unavoidable. What can a student do to be able to qualify and reach the next round of interview? Lot and lot can be done during the three to four years of college, without really stressing about it. All one needs is the right strategy.

Here are a few pointers to improve upon your GD skills:

Read- Can’t overemphasis on one thing and that is reading. If you really intend to qualify for the dream company and the dream job or that MBA institute, which you aspire to study from then you need to read. Make it a point to read at least an hour a day. One designated hour will give you enough and more material needed as content for the GD, provided you read the right material.

From the very first year of the college, you may like to subscribe to either a newspaper or an app which keeps you updated of the events around you, make sure you give about half and hour of dedicated time for the task. Slowly it will build on your knowledge and will improve the quality of your discussion even with your friends and family.

Read top 5 to 10 classics of the genre of your choice and on the most likely topics of GD. Read on a variety of topics.

Speak- Work on your communication skills, if you read enough this will help you with your vocabulary and use of words and sentences structure. Join Toastmasters and other such forums which are primarily organized to develop your communications skills your interpersonal skills and your leadership skills. Participate in Speech contests etc. to hone your communication skills and confidence. As a matter of fact participating in various public facing events helps one to gain confidence and interpersonal skills.

Rehearse- Collect a group of friends to form an indigenous group. Pick up a topic of debate/GD and have a formal debate on such topics. Make sure that this is not just a one off event, but a weekly occurrence. This could be not just educative but extremely fun.

Write- you may like to collect your thoughts around GD topics by not only reading but also writing your thoughts down, this will help you organize your thoughts and give it a concrete form.

Dress up- when you dress up properly in a formal attire it gives you confidence and a very professional apprearance.it takes just first 3 minutes to form an impression and make it a lasting one.

Body  Language- during the GD it’s good to be assertive about a certain opinion you hold, yet same needs to be conveyed very respectfully and pleasantly and not by stamping on other participant’s foot or banging your fist on the table. The body language has to be extremely relaxed and positive but formal to give an impression that you are in control. You can’t shout or loose temper. But make sure that your voice is well heard and it doesn’t get swamped in the noise all around.

Lead- usually when the topic is announced by the moderator, there is a pin drop silence of a minute or so , since everyone is hesitant and nervous. Gather your thoughts and plunge right in if you think you have a point to make. It creates a positive impact and establishes you as the leader.

But in case you want time to gather your thoughts let someone else lead. it’s better to participate at later stage with a strong proposition then a weak start.  Clarity and conciseness in presentation of your opinion is the key to formal conversation. No emotional overflow please. Speak objectively without getting impassioned. Beating around the bush takes away precious time and the argument may venture into unwarranted territories.

Facts and Figures- whenever possible using facts and figures makes your argument more objective and difficult to disprove, the more logical and fact based your arguments the more well read you appear and its difficult to supersede it.

 

How to Plan your 4 Years of Engineering?

The School days are over and for various reasons including your parents’ insistence, lack of any idea which field to choose or maths was one of your favorite subjects and you did all right during your school, you have chosen to be an engineer.

Welcome to the new way of life! Congrats!

Now where to go from here to really Enjoy, learn and grow and eventually metamorphose into a successful Engineering professional and of course without giving up on fun, friends, and fiesta…

This is the time when you are neither perceived as an adult nor do you get the benefit of doubt of being a young herd. Things are absolutely confusing and making your way to adulthood is bewildering, to say the least, and the college is overwhelming …

More often than not you find yourself getting lost and have the least inkling as to how to find the balance between learning and fun!! Time is both, in abundance and at the same time a scarce commodity …

From being a student for all the 24 hours you need to become a juggler!! You have various balls in the air to juggle!!  You have to be a learner, submit your projects and assignments, learn to be an adequate communicator, participate in both written and verbal communication challenges, up your aptitude quotient, Be at a lookout or participating in tech fests, build your value through a benefitting internship, various social service programs wouldn’t go amiss, have a strong LinkedIn profile and learn to control your impulses on the internet and of course forge life long friendships and memories.

Following are the tips which can guide you without compromising on any aspect of your life and helping you evolve into the best version of yourself :

 

  1. Study, but don’t bank just on studies: During the school days acquiring good grades both in the Boards and various admission tests was your sole goal. Get good grades, get a good college. Now when you have got the college of your choice/compromise, you have to up your game.

Good grades talk of your dedication as a student, your ability to read a particular topic, understand and be able to reproduce it is tested through grades but is that enough? When you look for a job, post your engineering, your grades are just a preliminary qualifier. Your grades help your CV reach the HR desk, and don’t mind me saying that anyone who can make the basic cut off point stands an equal chance.  What takes you further is the ability to sell your skills. If you are adept at a certain technology but can’t communicate the adept-ness, An interviewer won’t really bother. You see he is not a mind reader.

You know something, be prepared to communicate it –well enough.

Which brings me to another point- when do you start learning communication skills and How? You start building confidence and communication from the first year, since it’s not really difficult to learn to communicate yet it surely takes patience and persistence and practice. Your desire and dedication to put in that one hour daily for all the 365 days can get you way ahead of any of your competition.

You need to grasp each and every opportunity to stand and present. Stand and present a topic, in your class, on college stage through speeches and participating in the various essay competition. You may like to join Toastmasters club, if there is one in your college, if not, be a part of the club you find in your locality. Be a very active participant in the College to Campus Connect programs organized by your college. Be a very intent Ted listener. Read not only Literature around your topic of expertise (or you intend to acquire mastery upon) but also newspapers and other classics.

Since English is a big challenge for students and it’s a universal language, thus I’m talking about just this language here.

You see reading, will help you not only acquire mastery over a certain topic but also help you build vocabulary and learn how to use a plethora of words in different settings. Also, subconsciously now the language doesn’t look foreign but you feel a sense of familiarity with a language.

 

To learn to pronounce and use the right words/ phrases in various scenarios you need to be familiar with it, one fun way of doing it is watching English movies and series in English and with English subtitles only!!

You are working fairly hard in learning the language but its usage is still evasive, is it? Use it with your friends, you may like to form a group of friends you commit. Be a part of a local Toastmasters club and the opportunity of writing, listening, reading and speaking and competing will present itself more often than you like!! Good Luck with that!

(2)  Networking and using Social Networking- How much is too much? So you have 18 hours a day even when you take into account 6 hours of sleep. Being on Facebook and Instagram is all the rage and the moment you get to peep at your handset you do not let the moment pass by, but is it really helpful? I am not talking in platitudes, but on an average, youth spends about 2 to 4 hours on social media and here, we have not even taken into account the games like pubg etc. Social Media is eating into your limited resources of time and energy. Not to forget your ability to focus on the matter at hand is hampered too.

Limiting your usage by not carrying the phone around and keeping it far away from your bed to avoid the temptation of a quick look is the way to go.

Now, how can you tame the monster, you ask? Use it for your own benefit. First and foremost, when you apply anywhere for a job/internship, companies tend to look into your profiles and your social media- activities to know more about you- so keep it clean. Keep your prejudices and politics to yourself.

You should use LinkedIn to socialize and build a professional network. I have spoken at length on the benefits of LinkedIn in my last blog. LinkedIn is your professional footprint on the Internet. You create your account, post your professional profile and start looking for the companies, the HR of these companies and other employees and connects with them. All the jobs posted by the HR of the company on LinkedIn are now accessible to you.

Now you are pressurized into action, you have to create a decent CV you learn to get references and all of a sudden you catapult into a professional. You are taken seriously, a person with a futuristic approach and it doesn’t even take 10 mins a day, once the initial task of CV posting is done. Your debut in the professional world is much easier. And that’s the magic of social media working in your favor!

(3) Participate in Extracurricular activities- not a choice anymore I am afraid.. seek fun through creativity and participating with the like-minded fellow students. Healthy Competition harmed no one! It actually helps one push the envelope.

Participating in sports and other QUALITY extracurricular activities not only within the college but across, builds your confidence and it also, puts you on the horizon, you are known to the management and to the training and placement office. You get to know all the opportunities offered by the college, as you are in the Training and Placement’s horizon.

Also, it channelizes your energies towards having some constructive fun with likeminded people and keeps you away from wasting time in nonproductive non action.

(4) Every company worth its salt will take a written/reasoning/aptitude test- start preparing, now! Every brand, which comes for placement in your college or otherwise uses this tool to separate candidates at the preliminary round itself by giving them an aptitude/written/reasoning test. You have acquired a decent grade in your Engineering. You now qualify for presenting your CV to a potential Employer. The first hindrance you need to overcome is a written test.

And, if you think you can prepare for this test in the last six months of your Engineering, you can’t be further away from the reality. You need to start the preparation from the second year of your college itself. Starting in the lst year is too ambitious. You need time and patience to grasp the subject and really acquire some sense of mastery over it.

(5) Time Management- I have attached a link of the video of a speech by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Entire speech is extremely inspiring yet his take on time management is unbeatable.

Everyone has 24 hours a day and removing 6 hours of sleep you are left with 18 hours a day. Even if the college takes up 8 to 10 hours, you still have another 8 hours in your hand to complete your assignments and build a hobby and work on your communication/take up a hobby/hit the gym/prepare for a marathon etc.

Each minute wasted on Youtube and other social media offerings is time away from building the best version of your self.

(6) Build habits and character- If you really want to change a certain habit or build a new habit into your system, the good news is –it is very much doable/not difficult. But the not so good news is – Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Anything, any habit, personality trait can be developed or removed from your system. All you need is persistence – and it’s not as difficult as it sounds or we are made to believe. Just like if you want to build a lean and mean body- work out, Not 4 hours a day, but 45 mins every day. No excuses, please! Every day is what it takes. You do not have to be a supreme being or born with a herculean built up but you need to go to the gym and overcome all your reasons for not going there. Similarly, if you want to build a habit into your system- you need to take a day at a time and keep on it for around 66 days.

On an average, it would take more than 2 months before a new behavior gets onto an automatic mode— 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the actions, the human being, and the situation. Making a mistake once a while is all right- if you miss out on a certain day that doesn’t mean the task is undoable. Give yourself permission to make mistakes but you cannot permit yourself to get back up and get going. Persistence is the key.

These are few of the things one could keep on mind to keep a track of the most important years which can help you shape your life and fill your artillery with the most important weapon- self-control and self-management.

(7) An internship can shape your Career: This is an opportunity and not a cross you must carry. It is the foundation on which you can construct the building of your choice.

The internship is where you get the practical learning of how the work life is going to be, what kind of role will interest you and which industry is most in tandem with your desires. It prepares you for the future and does wonders to your resume’. Choose wisely- rather than just looking for a ‘fake’ certificate from a relative or an acquaintance.

It gives you a real-world hands-on experience. It’s scary and exciting at the same time – it is a way to experiment with possible jobs and explore different career options.

Networking and build contacts– Internship presents an opportunity to you, of professional networking and getting a recommendation letter/on linked in. it gives you a chance to meet HR of the company and if you prove your worth, they may actually like to retain you (if they have a position), as they have worked with you. It gives an upper hand over the other new entrants.

It helps you add weight to your resume’. Your resume’ is surely more worthy of attention when you have actually worked on a project and hold a decent recommendation then when you are raw from the college.

Without foregoing fun if managed wisely, these years can prove to be the founding stone of your career, which can catapult you to the next level of personal and professional learning, growth and career.

Being with Arya Student Development Cell for a long time now and having seen the ebbs and highs of students’ life first handed has made me privy to students’ life cycle and hence my suggestion for a successful stint as a student and professional in a gist:

(10) Start working on your communication from the first year itself. It’s not too late to make repairs of the mistake of the past, and not too early to start. 2. Start working on Aptitude test, it takes time to master it. 3. Start preparing on your public speaking, presentation and groom yourself to eb the best vesion of yourself. 4. Internship, it prepares you and your CV for your future assignments. You get to know your strengths and dislikes and if played well, the associations made at this time will lay a foundation of your career. Don’t forget to update your LinkedIn profile as you go..

Usefulness of Linkedin for Students for a job hunt

With Social Media all the rage amongst the youth and when the youth likes to spend most of their time on the social platforms, can reaching out to the world at large at the click of finger get any easier ?

For better or worse the millennial seem to not get enough of the social media, no matter how trivial or huge the news, it is broken on the internet by the doer or the viewer of the act more promptly than any other front. Arguably a source most distracting and time consuming, social media can be used to ones benefit if used wisely.

Today job seekers all over the world find social media as the most flourishing platform, which can easily swing a job seekers carrier to extremely greener pastures. It is Making the world has literally and not figuratively shrunk like a walnut. Time and distance or remoteness/ far flung-ness of information/location is the thing of the past. Abundance of information may be too much to cope up with and extremely confusing too, yet when one looks to benefit from it the outcome is mind boggling.

Linkedin is one such platform, which is extremely useful for both the freshers and experienced professionals alike. It is a business and employment oriented service which is a meeting point of the Employee and the Employer, wherein the employers post their requirements, a job seeker can view and apply for it on the other hand job seekers display their CV on their account. The reach is global and thus phenomenal. It helps one connect and network with professionals helping one advance his professional interests.

Considering the benefits, Arya Engineering College had conducted a two hour workshop emphasizing the importance of LinkedIn. it’s usefulness. And how one needs to create the C.V. which articulately puts forth ones potential and achievements. Ary Engineering college has the foresight to educate it’s students and help them make the best use of the social platform.

We tried to answer the questions, how soon is soon enough for a budding professional to make his presence at LinkedIn? What are the requirements? Does it really serve the manifested purpose?

1  To make long-term connections/network. You have done your internship fruitfully and you may want to stay in touch for future prospects with the company. Connect through LinkedIn. Make your account, post your CV and send an invite , you are likely to get accepted and this builds into your network and comes handy when there is this profile in the company you would so like to apply for.

Networking contacts like these can be extremely valuable. Do connect with as many professional as possible who know you and your work. Peer connections are also important. Your friends and friends of friends may wind up working where you want to be.

2  To get recommendations and endorsements.If you do a volunteer internship at a company, get your senior to write you a rosy recommendation that mentions specific things you did well, like handling customers and always arriving early and staying late. Since endorsements accumulate over time, it’s good to start early.

3  To underline achievements.  If you’re academically inclined or are/were a part of the debate team or Toastmasters team/ and you win awards, or your essay wins a nationwide writing competition, you were are/were a part of an important seminar on Engineernig. You would definitely want your potential employers to know. Create an Honors & Awards section on your profile and keep it updated.

4.To show that you are ready to embark onto a professional life:  Most potential employers will put your name through a Google search. When you have a footprint on the LinkedIn, it indicates to a potential new boss that you are serious about building a career have a progressive approach and are keeping pace with the industry, rather than just socializing online. If as a new entrant in the professional you have a LinkedIn profile, it shows they are several steps ahead and mature enough to network with like minded professionals.

  1. To make an impression on the potential employers.When you finally want to dive in the professional world and your competition has only a résumé and no LinkedIn profile, a hiring manager will likely be impressed that you have had the forethought to establish a LinkedIn presence, especially if you have numerous strong references, more than a few testimonials, a dozen connections and a work history even if they were volunteer positions or.
  2. To find out connections of the jobs you are interested in-This is one of LinkedIn’s great selling points: If you know what field or company you want to work in, you can directly search your connections for a link to a specific company, institution or field. It’s a challenge for a new comer to come up with more than a dozen meaningful connections. But the benefit of LinkedIn is that you can keep building as you grow.

By the end of the workshop at Arya Engineering College, it’s students were ready with their new C.V.’s and a glowing LinkedIn profile. The need of networking, exchange of information and staying connected in the industry and to not miss out on opportunities was all that the workshop about. Most well-connected people are more often than not most successful and fact was well-stressed upon in the workshop by Arya Engineering college.