Student Leader Interview – Shivansh Aggarwal from Sri Venkateswara College, University of Delhi

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1. Tell us more about your role and responsibilities.

The Placement Cell of Sri Venkateswara College (SVC), Delhi University is an official student run body, with powers vested to it by the college administration, to oversee placement, internship, and other career development opportunities for all students pursuing undergraduate courses in SVC. I currently head the cell as its President for the Academic Session 2019-20. In simpler terms, I, along with my team of 65 others, am incharge of placements and internships for all of SVC. 

Much of what I do as the president centres around making sure that all activities, be it corporate communication, organizing placement drives, student development, etc., are running smoothly and are meeting the highest standards expected from us. Mostly this requires me to ensure that permissions, funds, requisite data, communication medium with the students etc are available to the society and there are no hindrances in getting students the best opportunities.  

At the same time, I push for us to seek new and innovative ways to bring more value to the students and to our corporate partners and continuously increase the standards of our operations. I very strongly believe that any placement cell, not only of SVC but of any college in the world, can always do more- from getting more prestigious companies to the campus to providing opportunities to the students to develop themselves further through knowledge sessions, workshops, internship fairs. There is no dearth of opportunities to improve, and I am constantly looking for ways to improve the society.

2. How challenging is it to maintain a balance between your responsibilities and academics?

Honestly, when I took up the post of president of The Placement Cell, I was a bit apprehensive about a balance between academics and extracurriculars. In my case, the work never stops, there is no break period or anything because one company or the other is recruiting every other day, or there is some student who has a problem or the college administration wants to meet me, etc. However, much to my surprise it is not that difficult to manage a balance between the two. 

I strongly believe that the secret to balancing is keeping a schedule and sticking to it. What I do is 3 weeks before exams are to begin, I start prepping. I take 2 hours out of a day for academics from then onwards- 1 hour in the afternoon and 1 hour in the evening, around 8 PM. When exams are just 10 days away, I increase the number of hours. The trick is that during these hours, I put my phone on silent and I put it in a drawer. During this time, I give complete focus to studies. I have found that this is plentiful to be very honest. The idea that academics and extracurriculars, especially leadership roles like mine, cannot be balanced is a myth. If I can manage a balance between placement cell and academics then anyone can manage the two.

3. As a student leader, what is the one major challenge that you have overcome?

Ans: One challenge I have overcome during my period as a student leader is a challenge that every leader faces. The challenge I am referring to is to develop a future leader in each member of my team. I feel that critical thinking, leadership, decision making and many other skills come through continuous practice and development. From day one, I have encouraged my team members to take more responsibility, more initiatives, inspire others though your vision and through your actions. I encourage taking risk and embracing failure and to not worry about the fallout, if any. All coordinators in my team operate as independent leaders with only the minimal involvement of the core team. The result we have gotten is remarkable. The way the coordinators and members think, the way their actions inspires, their initiatives- it makes me swell with pride. 

The challenge, I faced, was difficult, but I believe that it is a fundamental duty of every leader to inspire his/her subordinates to challenge themselves, to think for themselves, to be more than just members.

4. Do you feel that your current role will be one of your stepping stones towards success in life?

Ans. Most definitely. This role has been a great learning experience. In fact I believe leading people is also the best way to get to know yourself. While exercising leadership one gets answers to questions such as are you a strict leader or a relaxed one? How are you as a team player- a micromanager or effective delegator? Do your actions and your behaviour inspire others or not? Do you want to live a fast paced life or a slow, peaceful one? The answers I have gotten have very insightful and have led me to understand what type of person I am by characteristic. I feel like a completely different person than what I was before this role.

Further, the placement cell has allowed me to exercise and hone my leadership skills- making tough decisions, motivating the team, experiencing accountability and many other skills. Through these, I believe I have had a holistic experience and have been able to create an all rounded personality. The learning that I have received while leading the cell will pay dividends throughout my life for I now have vast experience in leadership, team playing, communication, taking initiatives etc,. There is after all a reason why companies and postgraduate colleges value leadership roles so highly nowadays.

5. Do you think parents’ support plays a role in deciding whether a student has an active extra-curricular life or not? What is your message to all the parents?

Ans. Of course, parents' support plays a vital role in extra-curricular activities. I believe any worthwhile activity, in which you want to make an impact, will require you to put in massive effort. This is very evident in the case of societies, be it a cultural society like theatre or a placement cell or any xyz society. Parents are bound to notice where you are putting in the hours. If they understand the society and give their support then it becomes hundred times easier to excel in that activity. 

Honestly, I am in a position to take in wisdom from parents, not to give any parent any advice or message. However, as someone who is currently involved at the forefront of societies, I believe that parents might not be able to fully understand societies and their importance because these activities weren't that prominent, or even didn't exist, during their college time. My request to all parents is to approach things with an open mind. College and school are very very different. There is not enough exposure during school to decide what one likes and what one is passionate about. College has that exposure and is a vital step stone to make that passion a career. If a child likes to dance and is serious about pursuing a career in it, then I feel that the person should be allowed a shot.

6. What's your message to encourage students to do internships and attend conferences?

Ans. This question reminds me of a quote by Steve Jobs "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

As I previously mentioned, the amount of exposure given in school is limited. College offers students the opportunity to get exposure in different areas- dance, music, event organisation, leadership roles, consulting, quizzing, internships, seminars, conferences. Make the best use of that! I have many a times seen that the perspective the person gained with engaging in these activities has led him/her to change her life into a different direction and into a career in which they are passionate about. I strongly encourage everyone to explore their passions and go with them and the only way to go about them is through interning and getting to know the inside of an industry, or attending a session to hear from leaders in that field. 

Academics is important but all these extra-curricular activities are also important, college offers the chance to get into them, do not pass up on them. Make the best use of them, you never know the thing which you are exploring can lead to your passion.
Student Leader Interview – Shivansh Aggarwal from Sri Venkateswara College, University of Delhi Student Leader Interview – Shivansh Aggarwal from Sri Venkateswara College, University of Delhi Reviewed by EMN on February 16, 2020 Rating: 5

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