Sunday, November 15, 2009

My experience as a Guest speaker on "Confidence Building" & "Facing the first job interview"

14th November, 2009 - Children's day!
A famous women's college in Hyderabad.
Time: Morning, 10:30 hrs to noon 12:30 hrs.

The campus overview -
At the entrance gate - was a fading middle aged security guard, withered with age and time, but alert on duty, watching every fly entering the college gate (no wonder, it is a women's college). Seeing me step out of my car and walking towards him, he greeted me with a smile, directed me to park the vehicle inside the premises and helped me with the way to the main office. I thanked him and moved on, watching at students, some stylishly dressed, while a few burkha-clad, scattered across the college premises. A bunch of girls were playing hand-ball in the play-ground, some sitting under the trees, chattering amongst themselves, while a few others staring at the new visitor - 'me', walking past me, probably eager to know who I was and why I was there for.

With butterflies fluttering inside my belly, I was excited thinking whether I should deliver a professional lecture, or stroll 15 years back in time, and share every graduate's first encounter with the corporate world. Driven away in the reveries of my college days, I was sub-consciously heading towards the office. Suddenly, my wandering brain returned to my senses in a flash, as if a glass pane had shattered in front of me and pulled me out of the past. I had nearly collided with this smartly dressed college professor, who greeted me with a sunshine smile. "Welcome Sonia, I am Mrs. Vidya Paul" (name changed to conceal identity). "Thanks for visiting us"- She said and escorted me to the conference room.

I was up and ready after a cup of hot coffee, and some stimulating academic discussion with Mrs. Paul. She spent ten minutes talking to me, making me feel at home. I was introduced to few staff members, who were equally warm.

The session -
I was invited to the college to conduct an invigorating and enlightening session on "confidence building and succeeding in the first job interview".
14 years of my career, 10,000+ interviews at various B-schools & E-schools had given me quite a good experience in understanding the psychologies of the interviewers and the interviewees, the common mistakes during interviews, and tips to succeed in the interview.

I was escorted into the auditorium by Mrs. Paul. The auditorium was jam packed with some 300 final year students from various streams.
Two students greeted me with a bouquet of flowers. The Professor of English introduced me to the gathering. I was floored by the warm gesture.

After the introduction, the podium was all mine.
A tightly packed auditorium is a feast for any speaker's eyes.
"A very Good morning to all of you", I said.
Pat reciprocated the girls - "Good morning, ma'm." (I would love to hear that again.)
"Guess the average age of the girls in this auditorium!", I asked.
Screaming responses from across the room: "19"... "20"....
"Ok, now guess my age!" - I said.
Clattering responses: "25"...."35"....
"Wow, good guesses, but well, I am only 16+" - I said.
On hearing this, there was a cacophony of murmurs and giggles in the auditorium. I could see astonishing expression on the girls' faces. Humour filled the air.
Breaking the ice, I told them - "Just kidding, girls! Wish you all a happy children's day!"
I could see that the girls were more relieved, and looked forward to the session.

The session went on for two hours.
It was a mind-blowing interactive session, wherein the students visualized everything from a campus interview scene, to an actual intense job interview.

The students watched couple of soul stirring videos on confidence building.
I remember the expressions of the girls, while this video was being played, which showcased world's famous sports stars coming out as winners with their grit, confidence and persistence. Guess it was not only captivating, but building confidence within the girls. At the end of the video, their stooping shoulders had straightened and their eyes glittered with 'belief in themselves'.

We also discussed:
* Secrets to succeed in an interview
* Importance of communication skill
* Dos and Don'ts during an interview
* Body language and appearance during the job interview
* Secrets to defeat failures

Many students give up hope when they do not get their dream jobs during the campus recruitment. But I say that -
Successful is he who has patience and courage to move forward and grab opportunity at when the time is right. Maintain your calm when things fail, despite your 100% efforts. Failures are essential as they keep our feet firm on the ground, and prepare us to strive hard, reaching to success.
The girls watched another video on Nick Vujicic's inspiration to live life and beat failures. Tears rolled down their cheeks while watching this emotional video, but at the same time, they realized that life is the most precious gift, not to be given up in times of petty failures. Rather, get up and walk further, because you are destined to serve a more beautiful purpose.

The session continued with a talk on career counselling, with plenty of career avenues in the contemporary job market. A video on the Indian School of gaming caters to new and alternate career avenues.

Questions kept pouring in the Q&A session, but interestingly, many of them shared their view points and answered questions raised by other girls.

The session ended with a vote of thanks by one among the students, and finally a quick wrap-up by the head of the placement cell.

The girls flocked around me when I was packing up my belongings. Each one curious to know more about me and wanting to write to me for more information. I answered to as many as I possibly could and promised to share my contact details with the placement cell.

This has been a truly enriching experience.

Looking forward to many more opportunities like this one.

For details on career counselling, confidence building, secrets to success, defeating failures, facing the first job interview, etc. please view my forthcoming blogs or contact me directly. You may leave your email id, and I shall touch base with you.

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