Universal College Lanka (UCL) recently organised a panel discussion at the UCL campus in Rajagiriya, with the objective of creating a platform for industry professionals and students to discuss and share insights into how the students could start preparing themselves for internships at top companies. Since UCL has made a commitment to groom students into becoming highly employable graduates, including a 1-year internship into the University of Central Lancashire degree curriculum (currently delivered exclusively by UCL), is a key part of these efforts. Industry experts and UCL alike believe that getting students the experience through internships not only builds confidence but also boosts the chances of students getting the right job placements in tops companies after graduation.

The panel discussion was focused on enhancing the employability skills of students who are following the module ‘Transition to Work’ in their second year in the UCLan degree programme. As the students are eagerly waiting to start their internship in 2019 to gain valuable experience, this module focuses on empowering and equipping the students to strive in a challenging workplace. Workshops and activities are conducted during the entire second year to increase awareness, adaptability and to provide the necessary skills for a smooth transition from a classroom environment to the work environment.

The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Dhananjay Kulkarni who is the Dean of Academic Affairs at UCL and is also currently co-teaching the above mentioned module along with Ms. Udeshi Nugawela who is a Lecturer at UCL. The students were able to benefit from a distinguished panel of experts, including Ms. Rozaine Cooray (Business Psychologist, Founder and Lead Coach - Forté Consultancy), Mr. Dhiren Kundanmal (Director, Business Development - Sino Lanka Pvt. Ltd.) and Mr. Gihan Silva (CEO - UCL). Ms. Rozaine shared her insights on advising the young and dynamic students on the challenges faced by the working women in Sri Lankan Industry.

She also shared her own experiences and provided the students with valuable guidance on preparing them for an internship when she spoke about the challenges faced by junior employees/interns in a workplace and tips on how to face them in a positive manner. Ms. Rozaine based some of her guidance on the book which she has recently co-written with Dr. Pujitha Silva, titled RockStars: Growing Stellar Performers in Organisations.

Mr. Dhiren Kundanmal, being young and a dynamic personality and playing a key role in business development, was able to relate well to the younger generation and he shared his views on the top-10 skills that the current multi-national and fast-paced companies are looking for and how the students could start developing these skills early on in their careers. He also shared valuable guidance on what employers do not want to hear during interviews, which would surely help students who will be attending interviews soon. Mr. Gihan Silva, due to his experience in many fields advised the young undergraduate students on how to make their mark in their respective workplace by taking some UCL students as examples and also emphasised that students need to get involved in activities beyond the classroom.

UCL being one of the most reputed tertiary education providers in Sri Lanka, which is known for its student friendly environment and excellent student support, also gave the opportunity to students present to share their own experiences as budding entrepreneurs and interns. Students - Anuki and Ashfa who are UCL’s very own entrepreneurs shared their entrepreneurial journeys with their peers and sought advice from the distinguished panel. Students - Shayan and Nilesh who have recently completed their internships at highly reputed organisations shared their valuable experiences with the audience and also the challenges they faced in the workplace.

The floor was then opened to the students for a ‘Q&A’ session where the students were given an opportunity to ask questions or seek further advice. Some of the questions were highly commended by the panel, as the questions showed student maturity and purposeful focus towards preparing themselves for internships.

This was truly a very informative discussion, and feedback from the UCL students was that they gained a lot of insight into the reality of working in the industry environment and how to prepare for the same. UCL is delighted to conduct such activities, keeping up with its mission and vision of not only providing high quality education in Sri Lanka, but also contributing towards building a highly skilled workforce, and consequently the future leaders in the industry.

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