Yesterday was the third Saturday of Propeller; a one month long Summer program for students in 11th and 12th grade equivalents. Ensuring the success of this program has been our top priority since we started working for Leap.
Propellor’s objective is to motivate high school students to take well-informed decisions about their career path. Additionally, the program gives them exposure to a different type of experience so that they develop a more curious mindset. We have met with them for two hours every week day and hold a long 8 hour session on Saturdays or Sundays. The weekday sessions are a variety of IT, global immersion, guest lecturers and career related topics. During the weekend we do an off campus activity that directly addresses the softer skills that we are trying to impart. This combination makes it all very interesting for them and for us!
A Snap of our First Outbound
From the student’s perspective, they are attending a summer school where they are experiencing learning and acquiring knowledge in a way that they have never received in their schooling. From the local trainer’s perspective, we are providing students with better information about how to decide one’s career path before it is too late. This of course comes from their experience teaching at a college level where students have already determined their career path.
The most remarkable aspect of working with these students is seeing how bright they are. When we came in we were told they had basic (if any) command of computers, internet and English. Yet, what we have discovered are students with bright minds, insatiable curiosity and big dreams. Yes. Our sample of the population is probably not representative of all 11th and 12th grade students of Yamuna Nagar; these students are the ones who found interest in a program like Propeller, whose parents believed that it would benefit them in some way, and whose wallet wouldn’t be hurt by the course fee. Yet, nothing changes that these are students who live in a small industrial town and that because of this (as we have been told) are at a disadvantage compared to those who are come from an Indian metropolis.
Leap Believes in Experiential Learning
For us, working on Propeller has tested our creativity, patience, and knowledge. Trainers, students and facilitators have all impressed me with their knowledge on just about everything. They are all extremely well prepared making it feel hard to stay on par. Leap has amazing talent and I feel fortunate to work in this environment.
For those wondering what Leap is: it is, as Dr. Kapur put it, an “education start-up”. It started a couple years back when the founder and CEO Megha Aggarwal conducted research on inequalities and disadvantages that applicants from non tier-1 cities face at the time of finding a job. She found that there is a skill gap between the education that students receive and the needs of the employers. With this in mind, she set out to execute a way in which students could develop those skills in order to be competitive at the moment of applying to those “reach” jobs. Today, everyone at Leap is reminded of the purpose of our work: To help motivated students in non Tier-1 cities achieve their career aspirations. (check out the FB page!)
One cycle of students has passed since the founding of Leap that took place last year. Over one hundred students have gone through Leap’s Employment for Education course that teaches them anything from English grammar to team building skills. I have had difficulty grasping the impact of this course since I don’t have a good understanding of what it is like if the students did not go through a Leap course. However, in speaking to a couple past students, they all seem very thankful and happy to have been selected to take part in the Education for Employment course. Some have also told me that they are certain that without Leap they wouldn’t have had the the opportunity to get their employment placements.
We have also been busy working on side projects for Leap. My personal project is to review the past student selection process. Since Leap is only seeking motivated students, we must ensure that the selection process is doing exactly that. In the past Leap conducted an aptitude test and then a personal interview in order to gauge motivation in the applicants. We hope that this year we can do a better job at selecting these students, and also create a system that can be scalable. I’m just hoping that I can contribute something good and different to this amazing project!