What makes it for Employable Freshers to become Deployable Resources

How amazing it does sound when you get to throw some light on the experience shared straight from the horse's mouth, doesn't it?!

Nothing but the experience speaks for itself! You might have encountered situations too when you hired Freshers for that dream project of yours which is all set to launch but is just waiting for that right time! Let's see what this amazing experience is here to teach you or perhaps help you ideate upon the big recruitment management strategies you have been upto all the while.

Well, we have always heard Great Leaders Have One Thing In Common and that's their ability to communicate their ideas and express their thoughts. So, let's all put our hands up in the air as we read on to words from an expert in the industry, Premkumar Apte - a mentor par excellence who's put his heart and soul to training job-ready students and helping them become deployable resources. He joins us exclusively to share his ideas on utilizing the period before job-ready Freshers join a company for upcoming lucrative projects. Simply put, what makes it for Employable Freshers to become Deployable Resources


The Need

I spent over 30 years in mid-size IT services MNC companies and my Project Managers (PM) were always enthusiastic but also very concerned to include freshersin their projects. So, when I was given the complete charge to remedy a situation in the Software Services Export Company where I handled a critical domain,the first thing I decided was to conduct a survey and understand the perspectives and expectations of PMs from the freshers.

The survey very clearly articulated the needs

  1. Good technical skill- concepts and practical.
  2. Ability to work independently (no baby-sitting).
  3. Good communication.
  4. Right attitude towards work.

The Gaps

We found the gaps were in the on-campus/off-campus hiring, talent acquisition team processes and the training after the freshers joined us. We thought there were opportunities to utilize time between the two events : on-the-campus or off-the-campus selection and joining dates of the candidates.In fact, most of the students were into a lean period or perhaps an idle one between their graduation and company joining dates also.

❑ Students had theoretical knowledge and there was a lack of experience in developing complete working applications including debugging and testing of the applications.

❑ Final year projects were done in groups and only one among them really contributed.

❑ Selection process included an aptitude test, personal interview and group discussion but did not include a test on code development skills. So, the students ignored this aspect completely during their education.

Good communication skill was a key selection criteria during personal interviews and group discussions. We devised a workshop "Attitude at Work" on mass scale for all our "catchment" colleges to impart the practical feel of the industry expectation about work attitude from its employees. This is a subject of another blog to be published later.

Pre-joining project was designed to help items (1) and (2) above.

Pre-Joining Project

We decided to implement an idea of a pre-joining project work for every selected candidate. We prepared a list of about 40 projects to be distributed among the selected students. Every student from a college was given different project work.

Here are two examples of PC based software projects. A student could choose any development platform (Java, C/C++, .NET, some database). Each project is defined at two levels of complexity to judge the initiative a student has in taking up more challenges.

 ❑ Medicine and Drug Store Management System:

  Level 1 - Medicines/drugs, their available stocks and locations. Bill printing as entered by the shopkeeper.
  Level 2 - In addition to Level 1 - Re-order quantity on minimum stock of each drug and invoice printing from cost records along with taxes.

 ❑ Beautician Shop Management System:  

   Level 1 - Customer appointments based on calendar and holidays. Reminders to beautician and customers.
   Level 2 - In addition to Level 1 - Automatic reminders to customers at regular frequency, birth day wishes/greetings, bill printing and inventory of beauty products and raw materials and their re-order levels.

Every selected student was allocated an individual project. They were supposed to work on it over a period of 4 to 12 weeks and bring it to the company on the day of joining for live demo and evaluation.

Project Reporting

Each student had to report weekly progress to me in the following steps:

Personally formatting PC hard disc, creation of partitions/drives and installing OS and Oracle or MySQL Database,

  1. Preparing detailed functional specifications.
  2. Database, data structure, design of the front end and business logic.
  3. Coding.
  4. Testing, bug fixing.
  5. One or two pages project report.

I acknowledged progress reported by each student individually and encouraged them when they made progress.

Project Evaluation by a Project Manager

Our company invited students in batches of 50 or 60 to join the company. Students completed joining formalities on day one. Second day was reserved for a live project demo of their applications.

Each Project Manager spent 30 minutes to see a student demo, judged the kind of work she had accomplished, her understanding of requirements, design andcoding. Each student was asked to make one or two changes in the application on-the-spot by changing code. This ensured whether a student had done the work herself, ability to go to the right part of the code and change it, compile / link it and make it work again.

Each PM graded the performance of the student as A (Excellent), B or C depending on the Level 1 or 2 of the project achieved, question & answer and on-the-spot practical application changes.

A student was given some benefits based on the grade she secured - e.g. she got a choice in selecting technology and department available in the company for that batch. An "A" grader was reimbursed l00% and "B" grader was reimbursed 50% of certification fees for Java, .NET or Oracle DB certification(foundation level) if completed before joining. This was paid after completion of 6 months of probation period successfully.

As the students joined in batches one after the other, the performance drastically improved from second batch onward since the students knew by word of mouth the seriousness with which the projects were evaluated.

The Outcome

We found clear indicators of improvement in two major areas:

a) These batches could grasp more during formal fresher training. They could reach deeper level of hands-on practical work and understanding of concepts during the same training period as compared to batches from the previous years.

b) Perception surveys of project managers on the performance of the freshers in their projects showed at least 25% improvement in the depth of technical knowledge and ability to work independently. The performance was compared with previous year batches.

This experiment was successfully implemented for 500 freshers joining over a period of 6 months. It sent positive signals to the colleges about the work culture in our company, thus attracting better students from following batches and Training and Placement Officers (TPOs) giving us earlier slots for job openings for freshers!

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