Project: Employability Education
Location: Uttar Pradesh
Category: Education and Income Generation

Medha’s Alumni Team Grows

Medha’s mission in 2017 was to increase its alumni services to support youth entering the workplace and on their career paths. An NGO based in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, Medha developed a number of new alumni services and dramatically expanded its outreach:

  • More than 1,700 Medha alumni are connected on social media
  • Over 400 attended alumni events last year
  • More than 200 received internship and placement support in 2017

With the addition of a Senior Manager, Medha’s alumni team grew to include three full-time staff members. Medha also appointed six Alumni Champions in remote districts to act as “extended hands” of the alumni team.

Here is a brief description of some of the alumni activities offered last year that were supported by IDS funding:

Career Chaupal
Career Chaupal is a local chapter event. Medha alumni in a particular region attend the Chaupal in order to reconnect, receive career guidance, and learn about the latest employment opportunities available to them. The event includes industry experts/mentors who discuss specific sector/career paths and hold a Q&A session with attendees. In 2017, Medha held six Career Chaupals in cities in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. The average attendance was 80 Medha alumni and five industry experts at each event.

Rubaru is a one-of-a-kind learning journey for young adults. Medha says participants “embark on a voyage of experimentation, exploration, and reflection to both inspire and facilitate personal and professional development.” The selection process is rigorous, and over 5,000 Medha alumni competed for places last year. Rubaru gives young adults a unique opportunity to travel independently and gain exposure to new places, people, and environments. Last year, Medha completed Rubarus to Agra and Delhi with 25 alumni each.

Alumni Yatra
Yatras are excursions made by Medha staff to meet with alumni in various cities. As part of its ongoing effort to increase alumni engagement and build a sense of community among its alumni, Medha traveled to five cities last year. As a result, alumni were introduced to the purpose and activities of the alumni team, and more than 500 students were added to the alumni Facebook group.

Weekend Meets
Throughout the year, Medha’s alumni team met informally with at least one alum every weekend. These meetings take place at the workplace or at a common social location; they are a way of keeping in touch with alumni and tracking their career progress. The alumni team provides support, mentorship, and connections when necessary. Through these Weekend Meets, Medha gains insight into current trends and needs of alumni as well as inspiration from their success stories.

Medha initiated an Alumni Champions program toward the end of 2017 as a way to increase outreach and level of engagement with some of the most active alumni. First, Medha identified alumni who were skilled leaders, were passionate about their work, and had a desire to contribute to the alumni community. Six Alumni Champions were eventually selected from this group. They are now working in six different cities to deliver alumni services with greater frequency in their regions, increasing Medha’s impact and helping forge a stronger connection with alumni.

In the future, Medha’s alumni team hopes to maintain the momentum begun by these new initiatives. The team will be expanded as interest in Medha’s services continues to grow, and Medha hopes to improve data collection methods to keep in touch with its growing alumni network.

IDS Coordinator: Varsha Pancholi
Project Manager: Christopher Turillo

–2017 IDS annual report

The unemployability problem facing India has been well documented. A large number of youth are entering the workforce—the “demographic dividend”—but few have the knowledge, skills, and attitude to succeed in today’s workplace—leading to a potential “demographic disaster.”

While this is a global issue, it is particularly acute in India given the current demographics—more than 50% of the population is under 25 years old, resulting in over 300 million people entering the workforce in the next 20 years.

Medha, an NGO based in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, has been working since 2011 to improve employment outcomes for youth by delivering 21st century skills training; career counseling and mentorship; and internship and full-time job opportunities to students at their existing educational institution.

From a small pilot of eleven students in 2012, Medha has grown exponentially over the last five years to reach over 3,000 students across 35 educational institutions, place 1,000 into internships and full-time jobs with 200 leading employers, and build a public/private partnership with the government of Uttar Pradesh.

Medha’s curriculum has evolved over time to meet current demands from students and industry. There is no “quick fix” to employability and employment, and a long-term, sustained effort is required to have meaningful impact on young people.

Accordingly, in 2016, with support from IDS, Medha started its Alumni Relations team to focus on providing ongoing support and guidance to students beyond the “classroom” experience. This approach has significantly contributed to Medha’s ability to increase internships and placements from 196 to 449 (a 130% increase) in the last year.

Medha’s Alumni Relations team aims to build an active network of driven professionals among Medha alumni by providing career-related, need-based support. There are currently more than 3,000 active Medha alumni.

The Alumni Relations team engages with Medha alumni through a variety of channels:

  • in-person alumni events and get-togethers
  • over the phone through regular update and career counseling calls
  • online through social media, a dedicated Medha Alumni Facebook page, and email newsletters

Medha maintains an active database of all alumni and conducts a bi-annual survey to track their career progress. Part-time and full-time opportunities are provided to alumni seeking jobs, and Medha organizes career workshops and arranges counseling sessions to increase career awareness and help alumni make informed career choices. There is also a help line that encourages alumni to ask queries and seek support as and when needed.

At present, Medha has 3,301 alumni who have successfully completed a Medha employability education program. Over 600 of them have completed an internship with a local company, and 400 have been placed into full-time jobs. Of the students placed into full-time jobs, the average starting salary is 25% greater than the industry average.

IDS Coordinator: Varsha Pancholi
Project Manager: Pooja Rautela

–2016 IDS annual report

Medha improves employment outcomes for youth in India. It provides 21st-century skills training, career guidance and mentorship, on-the-job exposure, and job placement assistance to students at the educational institutions they attend.

Medha’s target population is students enrolled in government and government-aided colleges and polytechnics who are pursuing “general stream” degrees (BA, BSc, BCom) or engineering diplomas. Medha works primarily with young women from extremely disadvantaged backgrounds. Over the last three years, 75% of Medha’s students have been women, and 77% have come from Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe/Other Backward Caste communities.

In the past three years, Medha has grown from training 57 students in three colleges to training 2,000 students in 25 colleges. In 2015, Medha signed agreements with the Department of Higher Education and Technical Education in Uttar Pradesh to work in an additional 10 degree colleges and five polytechnics across seven districts.

As the academic year began, Medha expanded to five new districts (Sitapur, Sultanpur, Barabanki, Raebareli, and Gorakhpur) and worked with 11 new educational institutions. Medha signed landmark agreements with two state universities—the University of Lucknow and Gorakhpur University—to provide on-campus employability training and career services to their students.

Combined, these universities serve more than 400,000 students in 250 affiliated colleges—a huge milestone on the path to mainstreaming Medha’s program into the existing education system.

Building upon the recent expansion, Medha plans to scale its programs to an additional 12 districts in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Thirty Career Service Centers (CSCs) will be operating in the upcoming academic year, serving a total of 3,000 students. These centers act as hubs on campus where all Medha-related employability programs are based. In the years ahead, Medha will continue to impact students’ lives and their communities by improving their employability, skill development, and self-image.

–2015 IDS annual report

Medha is an organization designed to help col­lege graduates improve their employment pros­pects. More than 50% of India’s college graduates lack employability skills. Medha provides career counseling, skills training, and workplace exposure to students at their current educational institution. Medha’s target population is students enrolled in government and government-aided colleges who are pursuing mainstream degrees such as Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Communications. Medha works primarily with young women from extremely disadvantaged backgrounds. (Over the last three years, 80% of Medha’s students have been women, and over 75% have come from disadvantaged communities.)

In the past two years, Medha has gone from training 57 students in three colleges to train­ing 400 students in ten colleges. One of the key changes Medha has made to spark this kind of growth is the establishment of Career Service Centers (CSC) at the partner educational institu­tions. These centers act as a hub on campus where all Medha-related employability programs are based.

Medha has expanded its growth from ten educational institutions across Lucknow to colleges in the neigh­boring districts of Amethi and Raebareli. Building upon this growth, we have signed agreements with the Department of Higher Education and Technical Education in Uttar Pradesh to work in ten additional colleges and five polytech­nics in seven districts start­ing in the 2015–16 academic year. Combined with our organic growth, we plan to operate 25 CSCs in the upcoming academic year, serving a total of 1,500 students.

Students complete 180 hours of career services and employability skills training in addition to an internship of 100 hours. Beyond the structured training courses, the center is open for “drop-in” services and one-on-one counseling.

Internships, or on-the-job training, are an essential component of the Medha program. The training and counseling focuses on transferable employability skills; however, internship place­ments are based on student demand, skill sets, and the availability of internship opportunities. Sixty percent of the internships turn into full-time placements.

Medha has a dedicated monitoring and evalu­ation function that is responsible for all data col­lection and measurement of program objectives and impact. We track over 25 indicators across five key program objectives.

Based on this data, Medha students:

  • find a job 60 days faster than non-Medha students
  • are 70% more likely to find work in the for­mal sector
  • earn 50% more than workers in the informal sector
  • qualify for government jobs twice as often
  • increase their chances of undertaking advanced studies by 50%

–2014 IDS annual report