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AMU’s New Era: The Campus Placement Office That Is Providing Opportunities For Non-Tech Students

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By Aiman Zehra:

Meet Zaynub, a final year student at the Aligarh Muslim University. She is well-read, creative and outspoken, and actively balances her academics and extracurricular interests. She looks forward to landing a job that is a good match for her competencies and interests. Her dream: to be an active and valuable participant in a world that is fast progressing, and to earn her way into self-reliance and financial independence. Zaynub, today, represents a dominant section of the students – both male and female, at AMU, much like on any other campus, who are itching to make their mark, professionally and personally. Come next placement season, she will be seen presenting her candidature to her potential employers, and making her choice of most suitable employer and employment among many competing options. There’s a chance she’ll land her dream job, and if lucky, her desired remuneration. Zaynubs of today at AMU in stark contrast to the Zaynubs of yesterday, now have improved opportunities of skill enhancement, personality development, and corporate interface as their peer enjoy elsewhere in the country.

Image source: Careerindia.com
Image source: Careerindia.com

But things haven’t been the same all along. Before March 2012, when the first consolidated Training and Placement Office (general) of AMU was established, corporate interface and student placement was the onus of individual departments for their respective students. While students of professional courses were able to achieve campus placements to some degree, the student of a non-professional course, was destined to limited opportunities with dismal packages.

AMU, one of the oldest universities in India, has seen a glorious past, and has produced a wide network of well-placed and highly successful alumni. And yet it had somewhere faltered, in keeping pace with the demands of modern times. Though AMU kept producing batches of productive, innovative, ambitious and highly qualified students, this human potential met with a dead end somewhere owing to a lack of suitable campus placement opportunities, and a lack of formal training and technical expertise. It cannot be said enough that even the modern curriculum has many failings. A fresh recruit is required to unlearn classroom knowledge to make space for competing, ‘on ground’ knowledge in tune with modern times. While this deficiency is common to all academic curricula followed in the country, some universities and institutions have been able to mitigate damages and plug gaps by introducing supplementary education, fostering modern knowledge and skill enhancement, and by arranging for a strong corporate interface.

Campus placement is important for a fresh graduate, as it makes a student groom oneself. To improve one’s resume the student takes up internships, participates in academic and extracurricular activities, acquires technical skills, goes for industrial visits, takes up live projects, writes academic papers and theses, and learns in classrooms, not just for the sake of learning, but for imbibing and translating the knowledge into the job. In this way, the prospect of campus placement can help channelize immense energy of the youth by dangling a hard-to-attain but not elusive juicy golden carrot of a promising career in front of them. Also, campus placement helps a student analyze the reasons for failure by comparing oneself with one’s peers and nurtures healthy competition. On the remuneration front, students are able to get better remuneration packages than they would get on their own.

At AMU, the Training and Placement Office (general) looks after on and off campus placements for all non-engineering courses of the University, and coordinates with the respective departmental TPOs regarding student placement and related activities. From its very inception, the collaborated efforts and hard work of the TPO (general), departmental TPOs, and students have proved to be a worthwhile contribution to the increasing number of placements every year. TPO (general) actively organizes placement training and technical training workshops, job and career fairs, lectures on soft skills and HR meets throughout an academic session.

When I came to AMU and joined as the Training and Placement Officer on March 2, 2012, placements for non-engineering courses were almost non-existent. Things were difficult to handle. The first thing I did was that I tried to build a sense of competence among the students and scheduled workshops on ‘how to face an interview’ and ‘personality development’. The other very important task was to bridge the gap between AMU and the corporate world,” says Saad Hameed. “Placement is a byproduct of corporate interface. The biggest asset of all premium institutes is their strong corporate interface. AMU is working on the same,” adds Hameed.

The companies participating in the various campus drives at AMU are from a whole spectrum of industries including Software, Media, Banking, Telecom, Legal, Marketing/Sales, Service, NGO, Consultancy, Sports/Physical Education, Hospitality, Healthcare, Education, ITES, Construction, and Manufacturing. In the academic session 2012-2013, a total of 47 companies participated in the recruitment process, recruiting 523 students. In the following academic session 2013-2014, 50 companies visited AMU and recruited 515 students. This figure jumped by leaps and bounds in the last academic session 2014-2015, where 126 companies visited and recruited 813 students in the campus drive.

TPO (general) is also working on the inculcation of entrepreneurial skills in students. Lately, it organized a workshop on ‘How to be an entrepreneur?’ in association with the National Small Industries Corporation, Aligarh. The first large-scale HR meet will be held at AMU later this year.

A wave of change, slowly and gradually, can be seen spreading in the campus. I believe slow, but continuous changes are the strongest,” claims Hameed.

The Zaynubs graduating henceforth can therefore, hope for a better first stepping stone guiding them in the direction of their life goals, careers and dreams.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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