You cannot learn how to swim without stepping into the water. “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”, says Aristotle. Beyond being just a catchphrase, this is the idea that TISS has adopted and deeply ingrained into its pedagogy.
As a student of management, I would have read countless theories and heard a dozen management gurus on and off-campus, on whats and whys of business. An exposure to the industry, working on live problems and carrying out live tasks gave me an insight into not just the whats and whys, but also hows, whens, and wheres. It’s a recurrent advice from our professors, alumni and seniors in TISS that to learn a business, to know the basics one has to get their hands and feet dirty. Quite amazingly, fieldwork did serve as an opportunity where we got our hands and feet dirty, both literally and metaphorically.
Braving the July monsoonal downpour of Mumbai, sailing through the Venetian canals with a dual-target in mind, to be able to make it to the office on time and to successfully protect our precious laptops, we made it to our destinations every Monday and Tuesday. The fieldwork required us to report like the regular employees at official timings which often became a greater challenge than the tasks given in the office themselves, owing to the Mumbai rains, but which, nevertheless gave us a taste and flavour of the joblife in the high-paced metro in the first semester of our management course itself. Immersing in the full corporate formality that was observed right from timings of reporting and review meetings held with some of the senior most managers at the office, the best learning from the fieldwork was the flexibility of approach and openness to new ideas that the management had despite predetermined tasks.
I remember the moments of anxiety on the first day, having to work in the field of HR even before fully understanding the theory of it in real, professional set ups. After all, this was also with one of the most well-established companies that TISS had carefully chosen for its students, and where one could have expected nothing less than thorough corporate perfection. Stepping into the swanky corporate office, donning complete formals and clearing off the dirt off it blessed upon me by the Mumbai monsoons, I braced myself up for some strict do’s and donot’s about rules and conducts and nothing but little menial clerical work, but after a quick orientation, we were given our projects with a complete liberty to decide our approach and design. The fieldwork did not merely allow us to learn through those projects, by brainstorming, working, failing and reworking but the opportunity itself allowed us to have a first-hand experience of working in the corporate office, among the HR team, of building ideas and of understanding the approaches and the requirements of senior and conditioned professionals while also giving us an opportunity, for those who could harness it, to ‘network’ with the associates.
Conclusively, while any learning in the classroom enlightens us with knowledge and awareness of any concepts, opportunities like fieldwork that TISS Mumbai has built int0 the pedagogy enable us to test and understand these concepts and learnings and equip us with experience. To be able to compete well in the fast and competitive corporate world, one needs to get proper management training and understanding. While strengthening our roots in social realities and making us socially sensitive, TISS has ensured that we also maintain a constant synergy with the practical field for better learnings.
A lasting learning has emerged from this experience, giving a whole new experience and by ‘getting our hands and feet dirty’ which encouraged us to understand better, we could develop more. The fieldwork in corporate world is significant for learning management since it gave a significant exposure and allowed us to connect with industry professionals and test and develop our abilities.
About the Author:
Shakti Garg is a candidate of Human Resource Management and Labour Relations at TISS, Mumbai. Being a lawyer, she loves to read criminal case laws and international relations. She is an earnest procrastinator and when she has no deadline to catch, she can be found sleeping her day away or reading books on space exploration. Or watching mainstream Bollywood movies.