IIIT is small, but…
IIIT is a small institution. The student strength, across undergraduate and postgraduate, in IIIT in 2020-21 was 1537 – a number much smaller compared to other institutions. However, we had our 21st convocation recently and can no longer use the excuse of being a young institution to offset the issue of our alumni interactions and network not doing justice to our reputation.
Alumni networks are basically large collections of contacts that can be leveraged to build and grow personally, as well as professionally. They have great value as they give alumni a chance to stay in contact and keep connections alive. Formal alumni networks in colleges are organized through the efforts of college bodies. In IIIT, we have two such bodies – the Alumni Cell and the Alumni Affairs committee.
The Alumni Affairs Committee consists of faculty members and manages major events such as convocations and alumni meets. Alumni meets are particularly useful as they allow interconnection between graduated batches. IIIT organizes annual alumni meets to maintain a sense of bonding among them. Further, alumni get together outside Hyderabad too in places all over the world. 1 On the other hand, Alumni Cell organizes events and talks and works with the Alumni Affairs committee on different occasions.
The talent of IIIT alumni is undeniable – we have alumni in myriad fields ranging from civil services to cutting-edge research positions. Yet, the dearth of engagement with the student community reduces the visibility of such alumni and hinders students from approaching them. Alumni engagement can contribute to academic matters as well as student support.
One way to increase alumni interactions is through alumni talks. When alumni come and engage students by talking about their experiences, challenges and life-changing decisions they become great models for students and have the required experience to provide apt support to students who wish to pursue a similar career path. The alumni cell has plans to invite alumni on a weekly basis to talk about their careers for the aforementioned reasons. However, the current dearth of alumni interactions and talks is apparent as the last Alumni talk was organized in 2021 as part of a series called Alumni Speak in which alumni shared their journey post college life. 2
Further, many colleges have introduced mentorship programmes that allow people to form stronger bonds with their alumni and seniors. This might sound similar to the functions of the Apex body, but it is fundamentally different. The apex helps freshers transition into college, whereas the mentors help them throughout their college life and later, through guidance and by creating environments for students to grow. As IIITians we must focus on building such a body, since the advantages of the alumni interactions are fantastic. Alumni’s professional successes drive the brand of a college, and hence, such interactions hold great value in a students’ life and become cherished memories down the lane.
IIIT has an alumni disconnect, especially between the existing batch and the ones who have already graduated, as we could clearly be doing so much more. We have so many alumni working in such exciting fields and such important positions, yet we do not come to know of them until we actively search for them.
I encourage IIIT-ians to rise up to the challenge and fill in the gaps that stop us from building networks and initiating interactions that should be expected from an institution of our stature.
Editor: Jaidev Sriram