Nishtha Sethi is a B.A.(Hons) Economics student of Shivaji College, University of Delhi, who has been continuously involved in beyond the classroom activities.
Here, Nishtha is sharing her experience being a Founding President of Alumni Relations Cell, Shivaji College. Her hard work has the potential to propel her ahead of the curve.
Go ahead and know what her story has to offer so that you can easily find a path of self-growth. Young Influxers go ahead and upgrade yourself!!!
What was your role? Briefly list the responsibilities associated with it.
Right from my freshman year, I observed a gap between the current students and the alumni community. There was no common platform to exchange ideas, interact or to seek mentorship. The alumni members had but a really fragile connection with their alma mater which was limited to their batchmates and some professors. Recognizing this problem as an opportunity, I started the Alumni Relations Cell at Shivaji College in September 2019.
I currently lead a vibrant team of 20 volunteers from over 10 departments and three years. As the Founding President, my responsibility is two-fold. First is to plan and execute meaningful events that strengthen the ties between the current and the former students. Second is to inspire my team to work independently and add value to the table by learning relevant skills.
In the last 10 months, we have grown leaps and bounds. We have been able to reach out to over 5,000 alums through various social media platforms. We launched the Know Your Alumni Initiative in October 2019 to share stories of inspiring seniors who have accomplished great feats. So far, we have published a quarter-century of alum tales. We have also hosted 6 national level webinars with eminent alumni of our college and other luminaries. We are all set to launch our very own podcast series to improve student-alumni relations.
What’s it like to juggle between leadership roles and academics? Pen down the challenges you faced.
It is an absolute delight to be doing work that impacts the community at large. In my 5th semester, I took out around 3-4 hours every day to build my idea into an actual society. I made it a point to never miss classes for ARC meetings. The meetings were held in the afternoon so that none of the students lost out on classroom instruction. We were a team of two for about two months. But it takes two to tango! We divided responsibilities among ourselves and soon new members joined us. My role at ARC evolves every few weeks. Sometimes, I am a content writer while at others, I am a design thinker. I started enjoying my time at Shivaji even more after starting ARC. Now, there is no upper limit to the time I dedicate to ARC. Sometimes 8 hours and sometimes 16!
It was indeed difficult to juggle between GRE/CAT/IELTS preparation, end semester exams and managing a team of ever excited juniors. But nothing worth having comes easy! In the end, it all turned out well. I have received admits from some of the most prestigious BSchools in the world including Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the Indian Institutes of Management. One needs a clear focus on what one wants to achieve. Then, there’s no stopping.
What are the top learnings, skills and values that you acquired here?
I have become an empathic listener ever since I stepped into the shoes of the President. There is a lot to learn from everyone in the team. I have also developed a skill to delegate work effectively. It’s my endeavour to map skills to the work that my juniors tend to enjoy. I have become more careful with my words because, at a leadership position, one becomes influential. Besides this, I have become a better professional writer thanks to the countless emails we send every now and then.
Do you feel your current role fills you with pride and gratitude? Illustrate how the experience gained will help you going forward.
It’s my keen aspiration to be an entrepreneur someday. ARC has reaffirmed my belief in my entrepreneurial capabilities. It is equivalent to my first startup as I have been at the helm of everything right from ideation to formalisation to team building and team expansion. I treasure the leadership experience that I have been able to gather from my stint here. I have improved as a team player. Going forward, I would always cherish collaboration over competition and the relationships that I have been able to build here.
As when we talk about leadership we have a whole team with us. How do you persuade others to accept your ideas/ways?
It’s really challenging to bring 20 odd individuals on the same page for every single decision. Sometimes, we agree. Sometimes, we debate. But it is a learning process at the end of the day. I have tried my best to obliterate hierarchy and allow every volunteer to voice their opinions fearlessly. This culture has given rise to a greater sense of responsibility among the team members and has enabled us to welcome diversity. I don’t persuade people to follow my ways. I suggest, ask for feedback and pursue the collective best! By the way, most of the departmental heads in our team are freshmen 😛
What is your message to students, aspiring the same or a similar role to do?
Identify a problem that you aim to solve. Look for solutions that could be feasible. Give it a good shot.
How can we (Friends, Family, YI Fraternity) encourage young students such as yourself to engage with co-curricular or extra-curricular activities?
While acing exams is great, working on skill development is even better. College societies are the best opportunity to learn soft-skills hands-on and experience teamwork. I believe that showing students the tangible benefits of engaging in extracurricular activities would entice them to join the bandwagon.