“An ounce of practice is generally worth more than a ton of theory”- E. F. Schumacher, a noted German statistician and economist.
We agree with the statistician’s saying; bookish knowledge is a thing of the past and what counts today is practical experience. Cramming pages of concepts and pouring it out in examinations and interviews doesn’t work anymore.
While professionals always have a chance of gaining practical knowledge in the course of their employment, fresh graduates lack that opportunity? Many of you as fresh graduates, are conceptually strong but lack of applied knowledge makes it difficult for them to crack technical questions in an interview. Sometimes even your resumes do not get a second glance due to no practical experience or project work.
So what is the solution?
A Capstone Project!
Capstone projects are interactive research-based project work that can be done either virtually or physically. It is usually executed by students in groups to propagate team spirit. However, it can also be completed individually. The project is nothing but a real-life case in simulated environment, wherein the students get to apply what they have learnt in class. Capstone projects are usually short-term.
What are the benefits of a Capstone project?
(1) Prepares you for real-life challenges
Once you work on a real-life case, you know about all the grey areas that need to be addressed. This includes any possible challenges, loopholes or information gap. This spurs you to take ownership of the situation, put on your thinking cap and eventually come up with the most feasible solution. Theoretical concepts do not prepare you for these situations. Once you solve a particular problem successfully, you gain confidence to face these scenarios in real-life too.
(2) Best option for entry-level professionals
There are chances that you are employed at a junior level in an analytics or marketing department with a mechanical role but are keen on taking up more challenging projects. The company, however, only gives preference to those with a higher educational qualifications or more experience. A capstone project comes to your rescue then. After a couple of capstone projects, you are equipped with the desired skills and can convince your boss about handling challenging projects at a very initial stage in your career.
(3) Sharpen research and reasoning skills
Capstone projects demand a great deal of research and analytical skills. In the process of preparing a financial model, designing an online advertisement campaign or undertaking a data analysis role for a business issue, you hone your research skills. You learn how to prioritize things, how to break the problem into solvable chunks, how to sequence your research activities and also arrange your findings in a coherent manner. Scrutinizing the history, identifying trends and extrapolating results are some of the other skills that you will pick up in due course.
(4) Gives you a competitive advantage
Nowadays many of you are going for professional courses to enhance your resume. But let us face it, the resume just get 6 seconds of attention from a recruiter, there has to be something that gives an edge to your profile over the ordinary ones. Mentioning one or more capstone project does the trick. Employers get an idea of how enterprising you are and how keen you are to learn new skills. It also gives an impression that you are already ready to take on more challenging roles.
(5) Equips you to handle interviews and case study with confidence
Interviews these days are different. It is not restricted to the usual HR questions and answers. The technical rounds are tough and many times involves case studies, either verbal or practical. A capstone project prepares you well for these situations. In a matter of minutes you can take the lead and demonstrate your analytical skills because you have the confidence to resolve the problem with ease.
(6) Inculcates discipline and team spirit
Apart from the necessary job-related skills, a capstone project also helps you to develop a sense of discipline and team spirit. The project usually unfolds in stages and the students can focus on each stage and divide the responsibilities among themselves. When each of you take up a responsibility, there has to be a sense of discipline for task completion. These are the qualities that sets you apart from the crowd in professional sphere too.
Professional courses are a must these days as they equip you with the specialized skills. While you enroll yourself for such courses, be sure to make an informed choice. Many training institutes provide complete training and certification but not a capstone project.
For certificate courses such as Financial modeling, Business Analytics, Data Science and Digital Marketing, getting hands-on experience is a must. Hence, choose an institute which offers project-based learning as a part of the core-curriculum and provides feedback at each stage of your performance.