A group of Rutgers students recently partnered with the online learning platform Soochak to participate in a two-week consulting case in an effort to expand opportunities for growth and create business recommendations for the international nonprofit.
Kshitiz Anand, the founder of Soochak, said he created this platform approximately two years ago out of a need for improved education in India.
The platform is targeted at middle school and high school students, he said. It emphasizes the use of 21st-century skills to drive student learning and engagement from the first principles perspective.
Anand said the partnership was initiated in August after he connected with Dan Laisi, a Rutgers alumnus. He said Laisi volunteered with the Happy Horizons Trust, a non-profit organization Anand co-founded.
“The goal was to engage students in a power-packed two weeks of real-world consulting engagement in a domain that is challenging and provides an immense learning opportunity for the students,” Anand said. “The goal was to get a fresh perspective on the matters in education from a more technologically advanced world and conceptualize and brainstorm on solutions that could work here in developing nations where usage of educational technology products is on the rise.”
A total of 10 students and two mentors were involved in the partnership, Anand said.
Smay Shah, a Rutgers Business School sophomore, said he decided to get involved because he knew consulting was the career path he wanted to pursue, so this gave him the opportunity to gain real-world consulting experience.
“There were additional side reasons: (It) was an Indian based non-profit that was working on education reform, which resonated with me also,” he said. “But while that definitely sweetened the deal, just the chance to get more consulting experience was enough for me to want to get involved.”
Abhishek Taruvai, a Rutgers Business School sophomore, said that after finishing the Consulting Analyst Accelerator Program, an understudy program that helps you develop foundational skills to structure and present real cases, he felt as though this project was a good opportunity for him.
“The Soochak project was the perfect opportunity to display what I had learned and test to see if I was ready to take on real client work,” he said. “On top of that, working with an education nonprofit in India was a topic that I could relate to, since my family is from a relatively poor area of India.”
Anand said that over a two-week period, the participants were tasked with creating solutions to further education in India where the use of technology is rising.
Soochak was looking for a technology-enabled remote solution that would effectively complement traditional learning, Shah said. Because the education curriculum in India has not evolved much over time, he said they were also asked to incorporate more up-to-date educational trends.
A large portion of the project involved speaking with the client and conducting research on the educational landscape in India, Taruvai said.
“(The project) took my team and me over a very lengthy process that first began with a lot of research: What are the latest education trends? What is the E-Learning Landscape currently in India? What technology is available to lower-income Indian students? Answers to these questions and more helped us formulate a solution that we presented virtually via PowerPoint,” Shah said.
Shah said that overall, being involved in this project allowed him to see the state of education in some of the lower-income schools in India first-hand. Having the opportunity to help a non-profit address this made him feel as though he was making a meaningful contribution, he said.
“This gave me a new perspective on global education and made me realize how lucky I am to be living in a country with a high standard of education,” Taruvai said. “After working on my first professional experience, I have a stronger grasp of what it means to structure and deliver recommendations to a client and the processes that go on behind the scenes.”