The annual Job Fair 2016 organized by the Career Guidance Unit of the University of Colombo was held on Friday, 8th April 2016 in Arts faculty premises. The event is conducted with the objective of providing the chances for all graduates as well as undergraduates, to step in to the world of business. It is evidently a successful day in the university calendar every year.
From morning to evening so much enthusiasm and excitement was observed in the young crowd that occupied the site. Although most of the people were from the faculties of Arts and Management, familiar faces from faculty of Science and the rest of the University was not an infrequent sight. Over 30 companies participated in the occasion and so much energy was seen in the personnel who were eager to meet the talented youth.
While the busy work was taking place in the interview locations, in the middle of day’s heat and piles of CV’s, we the FOSMedia had the pleasure of meeting some of the interviewers and participants of Job Fair 2016. The interviewers from corporations of island wide recognition as well as new and growing companies were presented with some major questions to get to know their views. We looked into matters of the qualifications and criteria the interviewers were set to look for and what opportunities the companies and institutes were ready to offer the participants of Job Fair 2016. It was also of great importance to know what plan they had, to overcome some of the basic and most prevalent problems in new recruitment, like the fact that the undergraduates have almost no experience in the corporate world. And lastly we gave them the liberty of expressing their views on the whole affair.
The conversations we had were absolutely entertaining with surprising opinions and deep thoughts.
Singer, the well-known retailer company was offering a wide range of vacancies from district managers, executive managers to various other posts. They were looking for talented degree holders with academic backgrounds in management and finance. But they made a clear statement that any other skilled person was as welcome as the prior. They were set on directing the new recruits for a special trainee program in the post itself for a period of time. This allowed the people ample time to ready themselves for the job, no matter how new the experience is.
When the questions were posed to Mr. Ravi Rajasinghe, the head of Human Resources and Sustainability from Hayleys Industrial Solutions (pvt) Ltd, his answer was that they were not aiming to fill in a particular vacancy, but rather they were here to look for talent that would be best credited at their company, stating it to be the place that offers most number of jobs for graduates. It was surprising to know that the academic fields they were open for ranged from Finance, Management, IT, HR, Chemistry to Biology. Since the time and location was limiting their capability to interview each person at length, they were set on searching for talent, creating awareness of the diverse opportunities they offered and directing them to the company. They were ready to promote internships and training programs that would transform the individual from the exam oriented student mode to the team working social businessmen mode. The interesting and much insightful session with the Hayleys was quickly wrapped up as the queue of interviewees began to grow.
The next meeting with A Great Place To Work was very energetic. Mr. Bhathiya Jayawardhana and his co-interviewer both being graduates of the University of Colombo were very much interested in participating the Job Fair 2016. The institute was a research and consultancy firm in employee engagement and workplace culture assessment. The big words actually mean that they survey on whether or not a particular company is a great place to work and they also list the best companies to work for in Sri Lanka. Having the elements of statistics involved, we were keen to know if that is the requirement for the job. Instead, they were looking for diverse individuals with very outgoing personality and passion for the job. Relationship executives and operations analysts were the posts they were offering. Good human resource management skills, public relation practice and a sound knowledge on mathematics or statistics was the base of their criteria. Yet they were open for many other academic streams as well. Having questioned about their plans for training the new comers, they stated that they did not have inbuilt internships or trainee programs, rather they were training the individuals from first day of the job onward. No matter the period of time a person was working with them, at the end they made sure he or she is well trained for the corporate world. And so a Great place to work was indeed a great place to get to know.
Most of the other companies we met conveyed similar views for the questions. Almost all of them were open for any academic qualifications, with added interest for extracurricular activities and sports as well. But as per their view, what mattered most is the passion and commitment for work. As repeatedly said by most of them, what is learnt from the books is simply of little use when it came to business practice. Social skills, public relations, etiquette and logic were of great necessity to succeed in the outside world.
To great surprise, most of them were not biased to offer chances only for the graduates. Most of them pointed out the gap between the academics and the business sector and stated that they were ready to help bridge it. But as per the current systems, the undergraduates have less opportunity to carry on with the academics while getting experience in work. With the necessity of a degree at the end, the possibilities of maintaining a stable situation were thin. The people we met acknowledged the efforts taken by the University of Colombo to cultivate those necessary qualities with Enhancement courses and Internship programs.
They expressed their pleasure in having this opportunity to be a part of the job fair where the undergraduates of the university is given the exposure to the wide and abundant career paths of private sector, rather than having them line up for the countable opportunities in government sector.
Having acquired the views of the interviewers, we also asked a few participants for their opinion about the Job Fair 2016.
Many of the people we met were from the faculty of arts, but we managed to hear out from graduates as well as undergraduates of other faculties as well.
Almost all of them were excited to meet the companies and get to know what prospects they held. And they were as surprised as we were at the wide scope of professions the companies offered for even the very general levels of qualifications. All of them were very appreciative and grateful for the organizers of Job Fair 2016 for giving them the chance to experience the vastness of the world they were about to step into.
As one of the undergraduates told us, the event was a boosting and inspiring event that gave everybody an insight to what the world outside expected from us, thereby encouraging us to do best in our University life.
Much enthusiasm was obvious in the crowd as they walked from one stall to the other along with their CV’s. It would surely be a day that will be remembered as the turning point for many of them. Being there it was compelling to follow them and try the various interviews and job opportunities.
The event that began around 9.00am, went on till late evening with active participation from the eager youth, proving the Job Fair 2016 to be a big success this year too.
And surely, the next Job Fair of the University of Colombo will be a day worth waiting for. With much to accomplish in the coming year, let us equip ourselves with all what the world of professionalism seeks.