Smaller circles are the bigger deal

Management becomes easier and more people become accessible when they are closer to the center of action and smaller radius makes it possible. I used to keep complaining of how my college is smaller compared to Manipal University and crib about it to others. Yet today when I see, I have been able to grow better because opportunities were easier to be found and potential for growth was greater. I guess there is bound to be someone at Manipal campus feeling left out in the humongous eco-system.

I am what I am today due to two factors mainly:

  1. My Good Luck
  2. People helped me

Until the end of my second year of engineering, I was a quite silent being, who saw the awesome folks pass by and silently admired them. I remember watching a talk session at my college where Arya Murali from Rethink foundation spoke about how the will to take the first step to apply can go a long way to empowering you to grow. Though inspiring I did not give much thought about it.

In the end of 2017, I wrote my first medium article about my attempt to make information more accessible in the classroom. This was just an idea I felt like reading about years later when I reflected on my nerdy college life. Little did I know that the same Arya would read it and give me a positive feedback followed by a support to apply for a scholarship opportunity. Even though I did not get selected, the experience changed my perception and I have overcome my impostor syndrome to a significant extent. All because Arya was there to support me.

To state another example, I am decent at content writing because Bhairavi my good friend from college got me in touch with Nikita Mallya, under whose guidance I was able to develop the skill by multiple folds. This would not have happened if it was a big campus and I was lost under the commotion of the major individuals of the institute.

All these random events helped me grow. But it worked only because of the small yet connected universe I had at college.

Unfortunately, I know many who are not able to put their skills to good use, mostly because they are not opening up about it and people are not approaching them to talk about it. This abrupt communication leaves many out of the so called “cool guy” stuff. They mostly do not open up because of the what would they think mentality.

The key lies in this point of breaking free from the mindsets of the average student.

I strongly believe an answer is required and I am seeking to find a way to solve this problem. I feel ChatBots hold the potential to tackle this problem by providing personalized support, that is, by having one on one conversations to understand the potential and better connect with the opportunities available in the locality. Even beyond this, to add a human touch it helps to take out portion of one’s time to talk to the silent ones for they are bound to surprise us. I hope in time we find a good solution to this potential discovery hunt at college.

It is my personally mission to try my best ensure that every student in my college gets a chance to open up about their interest and speak with any fear of judgment to a open minded listener who can then recommend the best course of action to take moving forward. I am planning to talk to the training cell of our college to come up with a plan to enable students to better understand the potential that he/she holds and to better radiate it.

As part of FOSSMEC (the open source community of our college), my good friend Bharat has tried to analyze the technical caliber of student from the institution using decision tree style survey form. We were able to make sense of the inputs we received but even then there is a limitation on how well you can analyze a person using only technology and standardized methods (which is what makes me believe that personalized support via chatbots hold the key). Maybe through certain fun activities and analytic test analysis we will be able to evaluate the individual better.

Do not get me wrong. As performance gets better tendency to scale up increases and slowly the radius of the circle elongates. But then only a few well thought out systems begin to branch of and meet the varying degree of needs. As long as we do not forget to value each individual and take out the time to understand and see from a greater view what is the best option for her, size is not a factor.

Favoring collaboration over competition should be the highlight by which systems must be designed to have better communal growth. And in time, as a collective our systems can be better designed to make the best of what we have.

All Rights Reserved for Joel V Zachariah

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