Monday, February 7, 2011

Young college-goers manning stalls steal the show

As busy as a bee Sapana Thapa, 19, was handing out flyers to passers-by at one corner of the recently concluded Computer Association of Nepal (CAN) Info-Tech.  A high school student who badly needed some pocket money, the six-day fair offered her a window of opportunity.

“I earn Rs 1,500 a day which I think is good enough for the amount of work I do,” she says. Sapana plans to spend her handsome earning on gadgets and with the extra amount she plans to do shopping. “I can buy myself a new gadget or just go shopping with this extra amount,” she says smilingly.

Drishti, another high-school girl, was nonetheless happy and cheerful.  And there was no stall that was not without young college-goers doing the presentation part.  Some like Drishti took this as a perfect opportunity to make a few extra bucks, while others saw it as a chance to enhance their communication skills. For some others, it was a part of their office job.

Ravi Shrestha, 20, stood patiently all the six days at his assigned stall. “I work for this very company,” he informed. His office paid him an extra 1,000 bucks a day to be at the desk and he was truly satisfied with what he got.

“It is a part of my job and if I get an extra amount for doing it, why not I?,” he smiled.

CAN InfoTech saw a total of 50 volunteers helping out companies and stores sell their products. These volunteers were basically assigned the task of a salesperson. They responded to any queries from the visitors and potential prospects of their companies products. These volunteers were trained for two days by Information & Communication Technology Association of Nepal (ICT) before the fair. 

Event Manager of CAN, Sushil Bhattarai, too believed that the experience and knowledge the students would collect through these six days would further help them in their academic and work life. “It was like doing a real job,” he said, adding, “They are dealing with real people here which is far more beneficial than the bookish knowledge.” 

“They were given trainings on explanatory skills, handling customers, objection handling, persuasion and other basic marketing strategies,” informed Bhattarai. 

Shristhi Shrestha, 18, a management student, agrees with Bhattarai when she says, she learned practically what her books had in theory. “I tried to use in practical all the various strategies that we otherwise only mug up in classrooms,” she claimed. At the end of the fair, Shristhi believes she is taking away not only money but also the skills which will further enhance her performance in her academic career. 

On the sidelines of the fare too, they had made it a point to recruit students of the Management and Information Technology, according to Bhattarai.  “It is beneficial for both parties,” he said, adding, “Students’ receive a certificate for their work along with the knowledge and as for the organizers, the event would not have been successful without the volunteers.”

The certificate, according to Bhattarai, does seem to have played a huge role in attracting more students.
Shristi is excited that she now has something to add to her CV. “It is always beneficiary to have things like this on our CV,” she smiles.

Pocket money, added practical experience on their academic subjects and an extra-point on their CV seemed to have attracted the youngsters to the fair. But meet Rajiv Kandel, 21, and you will know that there are more factors at work in drawing a large youngsters. For him, the best part of the fair has been making friends. Kandel has made ‘ten new friends.’

Kandel, busy exchanging numbers even at the closing time of the fair, was “extremely happy” to have joined a volunteer group. “At college, I did not really have friends who were IT enthusiasts and here I made friends who are very much into this field,” he said. He and his newly-made friends have decided to hold a weekly meeting and discuss on the latest developments in their respective fields of interest. 

The tech fair with its 300 plus stalls did a good business for itself with more than 400,000 visitors. With our youngsters stealing most of the show, the fare fared very well, beyond the expectation of the organizers.