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AIF Clinton Fellow Launches Web Portal For MAST Program

Payal Rajpal

Ten months ago Tejpal Dhillon came to India to use the skills he harnessed in the corporate sector as a consultant to help serve the underprivileged. Through AIF’s William J Clinton Fellowship for Service in India Tej, as his friends call him, worked with Vatsalya, an NGO based in Jaipur who partners with AIF’s very own Market Aligned Skills Training (MAST) program. On June 28, 2011, his ten months of hard work culminated in the launch of a web portal he conceptualized, designed and implemented to track the training and placement of youth enrolled in the MAST program.

The website, www.kaamgar.com, is an online portal created to facilitate placement, improve retention, help students network and track students who pass through the MAST program. “When I came to Vatsalya, I spent the first four months at the MAST centers working on day-to-day management to develop a good understanding of the organization, the program and some of the areas that may require strengthening. I realized that as Vatsalya continued to scale their MAST program the current method of
placing and tracking MAST candidates would become inadequate and decided to develop a tool to address these issues," says Tej, who is currently 27.

Working with his Vatsalya mentors, CEOs Hitesh and Jaimala Gupta, and using his own skills in data management, Tej initially conceptualized a system to act primarily as a tracking tool and job portal for students and employers. However as the project evolved, the database has turned into a versatile portal that may also take into account the future needs of the organization. “We have developed something which is sustainable even if neither employers nor potential employees use the system directly. The portal still provides major improvements in tracking student placement and keeps student connected to the organization after they have entered the workforce,” Tej explains. “Keeping the placement piece as actively and centrally involved in the process is one key innovation of Kaamgar. This means the system remains highly active even if some do not access it.”

The website also has features that can be utilized in the future, including a notification system and a social media component. The overall hope is that students take to the site and use the networking features to support and stay in touch with each other so that the pool of potential employees draws employers in the long-run. Tej also envisions that Kaamgar be used by other MAST partners, and can provide a great deal of scalability. “One of the benefits of partnering the Fellowship program with an AIF program is the organization’s ability to take projects to scale. While the website may need to be adapted depending on the MAST partner, I can see it successfully being utilized across the MAST program”.

Tej’s Fellowship experience with Vatsalya has also been a successful partnering. “Hitesh ji and Jaimala ji were so supportive of this idea even initially, and as it progressed into weekly meetings, we kept
updating the idea and incorporating new ideas. It was really wonderful working with them." Hitesh mirrors similar sentiments about the value of the Fellowship program given Tej’s contributions. "We'd really like to see another AIF Fellow join us in the future and do more of this kind of work," he remarks.

Overall, Tej completed his 10 months of service in India having learned a lot both professionally and personally. “The AIF Fellowship afforded me the opportunity to take a project from the idea phase to completion, while having full autonomy over it. At the same time I have gained a lot personally as it is extremely satisfying to know what I worked on can potentially help serve the underprivileged”.

Tej left India on July 9 and will soon be pursing an MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. He is committed to staying involved with Kaamgar and AIF to help ensure it is scaled up through all of MAST’s partners. To visit Tej’s website, please see: www.kaamgar.com.


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