“IITB student cracks a 2.1cr package” is all that placements at the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology mean to the outside world. However, most media bodies barely scratch the surface when it comes to explaining what really goes on during the placement season. Leaving aside the 2.1-crore debate, upon which a lot has already been written online, we would like to delve deep into the journey that a student goes through while making himself/herself job-ready.
The placement process, from a student’s perspective, can be broken down into following phases:
- The Dilemma
- The Chase
- The Expectations
- The D-Day
IIT Bombay gives one an exposure to various fields, but when it comes to final placements, students generally find themselves clueless about the career choices they would like to make. The variety of job profiles that are available during placements is generally unseen during internships, which is the only professional exposure students have prior to placements.
The condition is only worsened by the low number of technical profiles available as job options, and the even lower number of students who rank these profiles high up on their priority list. In case a diverse variety of technical profiles was available, students could at least have made their choices based on the years they’ve spent on the related coursework. Then the only source remaining for making choices are the Pre-Placement Talks (PPT) offered by companies, second-hand information made available via seniors and, of course, the internet. This is perhaps a large reason why a majority of people have little or no idea about what they like and what they want to pursue, but only a vague idea about what they definitely don’t want to do.
Instead of informed decisions, arbitrary choices are made.
Being undecided, in turn, increases the burden of preparation. People chase all opportunities with arms wide open. The daily routine includes CAT preparation, attending PPTs, writing SoPs, preparing for HR questions, solving puzzles, practising GD’s and case studies. This often translates to skipping classes and leaving assignments untouched right upto the last possible moment. You just can’t stop, take a moment out, and reassess your situation because everybody around you is running as fast as they possibly can – and you need to catch up. At that moment, you care less about the direction where you are headed, and more about the pace at which you are running. If you are not giving enough emphasis to solving CAT problems just because you want to pursue engineering, then people around you constantly ask you why you’ve given up so soon!
There is a perceived notion that the earlier one gets placed, the more stud (s)he is. The day-wise slotting is done keeping compensation packages in mind, and hence a student genuinely interested in taking up a core position is automatically labelled less stud than someone who opts for a yet another role in a bank. Understandably then, all hell breaks loose when Job Application Forms (JAF) signing starts and the uncertainty of securing a job starts looming.
“You just can’t stop, take a moment out, and reassess your situation because everybody around you is running as fast as they possibly can – and you need to catch up”.
The sudden gush of JAFs immediately after the resume submission deadline makes students give little thought before signing up for any given JAF. This perspective starts changing once the shortlists start rolling out. When certain selective firms shortlist just 30 or so students of the hundreds who apply, many who have been preparing for 3–4 months are left dejected. When the next set of shortlists (for other major companies) are released, a nearly identical set of students are chosen – irrespective of the role being offered.
During the placement season it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that academics are almost entirely neglected because students are compulsorily required to attend to and complete a multitude of tasks by the Placement Cell apart from preparing for their placements as soon as the 7th / 9th semester kicks off. In fact, in recent years, placements have begun consuming students’ minds since the start of their IIT life. A lot of things that students do or plan to do since their first year are targeted toward getting a good job, rather than pursuing hobbies for their own sakes.
In their pre-final semesters, students start by crafting their resumes and often devote more than two weeks to first make multiple drafts and then get them verified by seniors. If they don’t devote this much time and attention, they stand to lose out in the first phase of the rat race itself – simply because their resume isn’t polished enough. In the process of verification, they also enquire about the potential companies that they would be shortlisted into – thus inheriting a huge number of subjective biases. Of course, beyond all the pseudo-networking, placement talks and interaction sessions, students also have to prepare for their interviews by reading up relevant books and blogs.
A lot of things that students do or plan to do since their first year are targeted toward getting a good job, rather than pursuing hobbies for their own sakes.
Amidst serious placement preparation, arrive the inevitable endsems. Recently, a lot of students take up only core courses (and not the electives) that are a part of their curriculum. This, too, is done in order to make some extra time to prepare for placements. Others do the best they can to ensure adequate preparations for both endsems and placements.
Finally arrives December.
Every company is allotted a particular day and slot in which it is supposed to conduct its process. Fortunate are those who are shortlisted in companies of their choice, and are also able to clear the prerequisite interviews. Slightly less fortunate and confused are those who are shortlisted in companies spanning a range of sectors in the same slot. Most find it difficult to appear for multiple rounds of interviews with companies that have completely different expectations in one slot. Slotting doesn’t take into account the preferences of students either, instead using the compensation package being offered as a metric. This results in a lot of brilliant students securing a job as soon as possible instead of waiting for few days to sit for a core company – which has neither the packages, nor the clout of the financial bigwigs.
Placements have definitely been an enriching bittersweet experience for all students and given them a taste of the real world. The process has also caused students to revise their courses, learn the basics of finance and economics, and stay connected with the current affairs, all in pursuit of a good job. Clearly, the Placement Office has so far focused on maximising the number of students placed on campus – a justifiable stance. Only students who’ve been through the placement season can answer how happy they are with their company, how their parents have perceived their compensation after all the media hype, and if they actually repent for their hurry to get placed as soon as possible.
This article is the joint team work of Prakhar Singh & Sashank Konete.