Time flies. Down the memory lane, it seems only yesterday that I and my friends used to serenade through the charming Jamia campus. The bright faces that lit the soulful campus then, continue to glow in my mind even today.
Although I have spent only two meaningful years at Jamia, they were worth a decade spent in any other institution. Jamia has become a defining part of my identity. Such was the impact of my stay in Jamia that today I see myself as a proud Jamia alumnus. A course in social work made me a better person and a thorough professional in whatever I did.
To me Jamia is quintessential of what India stands for: men and women from different regions, speaking different languages, professing different faiths, advocating different ideas come together in synergetic interaction to produce a rainbow like wonder, where individual semi-circles contribute their own color on the vast canvas, but lose none of their original sheen. I see my brief stay at Jamia as intellectually stimulating, spiritually ethereal, and a wise career move.
Koi na Jaane hoga kya
Campus life is so enriching: there are so many wells of knowledge to drink from and so many activities to participate in, that a student is left unsure of what to do exactly. The specter of an unknown future, the ever-stretched-out monthly budgets, the pressures of parental expectations and the never-ending demands of the teachers, tend to drive into students a bewildering sense of confusion. They do not know exactly what the future holds for them, causing undue stress and anxiety.
With no system of counseling and guidance available, students have to slog it out on their own. Lack of sound advice and guidance leads some students towards poor career choices made in a huff with short term considerations in mind.
Roles Alumni Can Play
It is here that organized interaction between Jamia students and Jamia alumni can be helpful. Concerted efforts must be made to facilitate a better student-alumni interaction. The alumni have the advantage of hindsight. They can view things retrospectively and see the mistakes they had committed, the good or faulty choices they had made, and how those choices affected their own careers and lives. They possess a rich body of knowledge and experience of the industry they are working in. Alumni have more concrete knowledge of the current requirements and the growing trends. These are things that are not part of the curriculum. Guest lectures delivered by academics do not fill the gap.
This gap can be filled by alumni who are naturally attached to their alma mater. In an organized and target-oriented interaction they can share their experiences in their respective fields of work and take on the job of mentoring fresh graduates and help them grow personally and professionally.
Networking for Jobs
In this period of economic slowdown and uncertainties, Jamia alumni can harness their professional network and contribute in helping fresh graduates secure wise career breaks.
A tradition of sorts is developing in India and abroad where university alumni have contributed substantial funds, instituted scholarships, built hostels and bailed out financially hit institutions. This trend has picked up so well that some colleges maintain the alumni giving rate.
In recent years some JMI departments like Engineering and Social Work have made efforts towards organizing alumni meets, but it seems that the overriding mood of these meets are celebratory in nature, made in form of emotional reunions.
Space should be created for a more organized and rewarding student-alumni interaction so that students can benefit from their predecessors. Each department’s career placement cell should locate its alumni; facilitate their interaction with current students by conducting seminars, lectures, discussions etc.
Internet forums do exist. Such forums have proved their usefulness in a number of instances. JMI should help foster a life-long commitment to Jamia in their alumni. Alumni on the other hand should return the favor to their alma mater in whatever way they can contribute.
[Zafar Bari is a Jamia alumnus. He graduated in 1999 from the Master of Arts program in Social Work. He presently resides in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He can be reached via e-mail at: zafar_bari[at]yahoo.com]