"No self respecting student goes for the TCS interview."
This piece of news was casually delivered to me by a student of a mid ranking NIT.
"Why, exactly?" I probed.
"Well, they pick up a lot of students", came the reply. "It's a mass recruiter."
So, is that a bad thing? Well, apparently yes. You see word filters back that "It's not as great as you think". "Be prepared to spend 6 months on the bench." Etc etc.
Much the same as joining Infosys but since Infy picks up less folks from this particular campus, the negative feedback is a trickle. Compared to the TCS flood.
Of course TCS does manage to get students. But it's not a top choice. The hot companies to join are the ones who take fewer people: IBM for example. Generally the companies which recruit more selectively pay more. So that's a first level of satisfaction for the new employee.
Secondly, they seem to have a better idea what to do with the people who join. They're not recruiting large numbers in anticipation of projects coming in.
Thirdly, even if some people have a bad experience their number is limited - so there is no overall negative impression.
In just 3 short years, the world has changed. When I wrote this column for rediff.com in June 2004, it was still a big deal to join one of the Big Five. Except, perhaps at an IIT.
With the rising aspirations of fresh grads the same jobs have lost their sheen. The net has to be spread wider and wider, to tier 2 and tier 3 colleges, which would not be on the recruitment map at all a couple of years ago.
At a lesser known college it is a matter of pride that 'Infosys picked up 6 students'. The feeling is that of having 'arrived'.
But next year when 60 join, and then 100, the same 'we are being recruited like alu and pyaaz' feeling sets in.
I don't know what the solution is because much of the problem is created by the external environment. Once you know many options are available, you feel less committed to making something work.
Companies recruit extra staff in anticipation of attrition and end up compounding the problem by not having proper roles and jobs for some folks to do.
But even the likes of 'Happy Kumar' who are perfectly content where they are get infected by the jobnotgoodenough-itis soon enough. It's like a virus floating in the very air we breathe - no one can escape it.
The thing, is we all want to achieve more. To stand out from the crowd. If 'everyone' can get a job in TCS easily, it must not be really worth it, is the feeling. And young people today are very quick today to form opinions based on hearsay, orkut scraps, forum discussions. And the view taken is of the immediate 6-12 months. Few can see a career path in terms of even a 3-5 year horizon.
The one thing these companies have going for them is the Parent Proposition. Moms and dads just love to brag about 'mera beta or beti working at TCS'. So even if it has little or no brag value in the peer group, there is a compelling reason to sign on.
Kam se kam Mummy-Daddy to khush ho jayenge.
And finally, despite all the cribbing and sighing these jobs are far more comfy than being on some factory shopfloor. Every engineer who disses IT knows that in the back of his mind.
So an uneasy equilibrium is maintained. Kal ki kal dekhi jayegi. The tug of wills continues... And no, draconian non-compete clauses are not the answer.