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Places to go: Placements at R

November 24, 2016

Despite being over a century old, Roorkee falls behind a few early birds when it comes to placements and loses its preference in that respect. It is also believed that the seclusion of IITR from the urban civilization, contrary to that of Bombay and Madras, and the consequent difficulty in transport and lack of accommodation facilities outside the campus could also be a part of the problem. The gospel that ‘R comes behind B, D, and K’ expands into a non-alphabetical regime of non-core placements, making it the ruby in the rubble. Watch Out! delves into the student perspective of placements, the current scenario and the effort it takes to land your dream job in your dream company.

The current scenario

The zeitgeist of 1980s and 90s defined the choice of graduates of University of Roorkee to join PSUs, engineering services, civil services etc. The winds changed their direction soon and today we see a higher student proportion opting for finance, software, consulting, analytics, management roles in the private sector along with core jobs, the option of higher studies and a few starting up. The pattern also varies with IITs and is connected with the campus culture, student faculty interaction, motivation factor etc.

This disparity is visible in terms of placements, as clarified by Dr. Padhy, Professor-in-charge, TPO, “If the companies were to pick, say 2 out of 7 IITs, then Roorkee would be at a disadvantage”. At this point, it is only natural that the reader starts to reflect upon the mysteriously ridiculous circumstances in which he opted for the institute in the first place.

A general comment on the placement scenario at IITR is a difficult one to make. In software and technology profiles most major companies visit the campus including giants such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Adobe etc. But R surely lags behind its sister institutions in finance, consulting, FMCG and core profiles with not many top guns attracted to IITR junta. 1037 offers were made on-campus by 248 companies during the previous academic year.

Student preparation

Placement drive is more or less a platform for interaction between the employer and job aspirants. It brings the industry and the graduates together on the table. The preparation culture at IITR is something worth rethinking. The general student attitude towards placements in Roorkee remains a lackadaisical one even now. In the words of Prof. N.P Padhy, “Students in Roorkee have to be more serious with the business.” Many companies couldn’t even find suitable candidates for the roles they were seeking. According to Naman Agarwal from the TPO, “Many a times companies give negative feedback about student preparation especially when it comes to aptitude”.

The campus life provides immense opportunities to explore the technical side of everything leading to satisfactory performance in software and core profiles. With non-core jobs like management consultancy, finance, analytics etc., there is little exposure your undergraduate life can offer you.

The Training and Placement cell conducts workshops with an aim to give students a better exposure and make them prepared for interviews. The Talerang workshops which used to be conducted earlier had to be dropped due to sparse participation. In the previous year workshops by companies like 4P, Smart India etc. were conducted by TPO but the turnout was poor.

At the same time, the quality of such workshops also remains a question, with some students pointing out that they were below the mark. It seems there is a gap between what students seek through such workshops and what they are actually offered. In such a situation, from preparation of CVs to training for interviews students lack proper guidance and in most cases the only inputs are those from their immediate seniors. Speaking about the need to be more focused as far as placements are concerned, Prof. Padhy says “70-80% of the students are fine. But 30% of them require serious counselling. Motivation factor is to be added. Also, importantly, one has to be very serious about his plans, what he is looking for. If you go to, IITK, if there are 1000 students, only 700 register for the placements. They are those who actually want a job and serious about it. Here, all 999 register for placements. But they still prepare for MBA, MS, Civil Services. It is not a bad idea to try many things parallel. But for a candidate to be successful in something, he has to be clear in his mind as to what he is looking for.”

Looking from another dimension, the limited number of opportunities might also lead to a lukewarm approach from the part of students. For example if you take FMCG sector, the only company which comes to Roorkee is ITC, while other majors like HUL, Nestle etc. show their presence in other IITs. Even in consulting or finance, Roorkee has not yet been able to tap into the big players. This is certainly a matter of concern at the same time a deterring factor for preparation. While some go for higher studies, others try their luck with whatever little options available. A new company might come to Roorkee and if they do not find qualified graduates, they may withdraw from the next season. This definitely fetches a negative impression for the institute in front of employers. Similarly, when students find few opportunities in their desired field, they are demotivated to prepare and get satisfied with whatever they could get their hands on. This leads to a vicious circle of lesser efforts, poorer placements and limited opportunities.

Roorkee sleeps

The quality of students is one big thing for any company when it decides to visit a campus for placements. Even when we say that we don’t have many top guns visiting the campus, it is good to stand in our shoes and rethink whether we can offer the quality which they seek. No doubt the intellect and potential of IITR graduates is top notch. But what matters is whether we are groomed for the industry and the world we step into. A frivolous attitude never pays off. “Suppose the placement brochure says that we have a finance club, a consult club or an analytics group, wouldn’t a company in these sectors automatically get interested in the graduates here? But do we have something of this sort to offer here? The answer is disappointing.” says Aditya Gokhale’15.

Informed decision making

The realities and expectations, opportunities and probabilities, skills and potentials need to be weighed before choosing the way forward. “You should initially talk to a few people in the industry you want to join. And get their perspectives to help you decide whether you are cut out for these jobs or not. More importantly, you may be interested in something, but the companies might have no interest in you. So the reality check has to be done while in college.”, notes Mr. Aravind Singhal, Founder and CEO of Technopak, a leading boutique consulting firm.

Career decisions in R are built in interesting ways, with the primary inputs coming from seniors’ experiences and what peers think about certain profiles. This raises another major concern: It is easy to believe that job X is what you want to do or company Y is where you want to go when you have little idea about what interest and you and where do your strengths lie.

Career: A lifelong journey

It is also important that students have a long term vision about the industry and the work they wish to do in life. It should be an informed decision rather than going behind all that glitters. “Nowadays, you see a job which pays more than 10 lakhs, and you rush towards that. You have to find out what you are really good at” says Prof. Pathy.

Placements are a market driven world. Currently the opportunities in software, consultancy and finance are huge and offer higher pay than core sector jobs which account for only about 15% of the job market. One needs to put further analysis and thoughts on how different industries are going to evolve in future and needs to make an independent decision about what one would like to do with their lives. “Students often have a very myopic view of things extending to 12-18 months, mostly driven by the fashion of the day, joining an ecommerce company or a consulting company, instead of considering whether they are suitable to the industry or not. A lot of ecommerce companies in my opinion, will shut down, in the next few years. Management consultancy may look far more glamorous from outside than it actually is and is going to go through a significant amount of disruption in future”, notes Mr. Singhal.

Tapping into alumni network

IITR, a globally acknowledged institution with a legacy of more than 150 years has an alumni base spread over different parts of the globe playing crucial roles in various MNCs, PSUs, research institutions, civil services, startups etc. But it’s a fact well acknowledged that IITR has always performed poorly in exploiting this vast resource. The easiest way to bring a company to the campus is by making use of alumni who are part of the organization. “We basically target a company. We identify alumni working in the company. We use them to reach out to the decision maker. And they are very supportive to be honest.” says prof Padhy. To treat the alumni not just as a source of money who should be pestered for sponsorships in fests is the first thing to be taken care of. Building a strong relationship with the alumni can bring in better industrial collaboration, exchange programs, financial aids, technical expertise and significant opportunities for students. When a call from alma mater is always close to heart, why not we try better to tap into this tremendous resource?

To learn

The only way to learn is to try. College is a place to try out multiple things. “First and foremost, students should make sure they study what they have gone there for. The primary motive of being in college is to learn. Make it a point to explore different things. In the process they will understand themselves, develop capabilities and an all-round personality”, says Mr. Singhal. It’s not too late to get rid of our somnolence and introspect. Remember that naughty boy from John Keat’s poem?

“So he stood in his shoes And he wondered, He wondered, He stood in his shoes And he wondered.”