Friday, November 21, 2008

Summer placement saga: sach kya hai?

Press releases from India's top bschools make it sound like 'business as usual'.

IIMA: Despite the global financial crisis, finance saw the highest percentage of acceptances at 32%. This reflects the decision of the students to not base a long term career decision on a short term market outlook. Consulting came a close second at 26%. Marketing was the largest gainer from previous years with 23% of the batch choosing to opt for marketing roles.

Between the lines: Of course last year 57% were placed in finance... And did those choosing to opt for marketing really have a 'choice'?

IIMB: As against 65 firms in the previous academic year, 110 companies, including 56 new firms, came calling to take the B-school students on 10-12 weeks' internship in the summer of 2009.

Between the lines: Bhai earlier they chased us, now we have to chase them. Fewer offers per company means we need more companies on campus!

Incidentally, a report in ET suggests that this year IIM-B called around 3,000 companies, IIM-C contacted around 1,500 companies and it was 650 companies for Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Delhi. Quite an effort!

IIMC: The summer placement process which was scheduled from the 9th to the 14th of November has been completed with the entire batch of over 300 students being offered the widest possible range of sectors and job profiles.

Between the lines: These wide range of profiles and sectors was ALWAYS available but these firms never even got a chance to interview IIMC grads. Since everyone was snapped up by those I banks!

Meanwhile IIML has not been that lucky...

Indian Express reports: Two weeks after their summer placements exercise began on campus on November 7, about 55 students in the first year of the MBA programme at IIM-L are still waiting for an offer.

Senior members of the faculty at this institution of excellence could not remember the last time this had happened—a few students were sometimes left behind after the first week of placements, but ultimately everyone got placed. Never was it so bad.


I thought location might be to blame but if XLRI and IIMK could weather the storm - I wonder what went wrong here?

The bigger picture
Ultimately I think the whole model of placement-based education is getting turned on its head. And that, in my opinion, is a good thing.

Take the very concept of 'summers'. When I did my MBA it was known as summer 'training'. You joined a company, did some project - the basic idea was to get exposure.

It was more about just testing the waters. Very few people joined the same company they did a summer internship with.

Five years later when my brother did his summers the concept of PPOs had caught on. Many companies were making better use of their trainees by giving more challenging projects.

If you did well in your summer project you expected an offer from the company. But it was more a matter of prestige than a desperate desire to join that same company.

Cut to a few years later. Circa 2005. Joining the 'right company' for summer was now a crucial concern. So junta started preparing CVs the moment they set foot on campus.

The word summer 'training' fell out of fashion and summer essentially became a preview of the final placements.

I'm not saying we could go back to those innocent days when summer was intended as 'exposure' alone. Coz a large % of MBAs now have prior work experience. But I think there is merit in students keeping an 'open mind'. Using summer more to learn and explore than seal a deal.

And whether they like it or not, this is actually happening... So may as well make the best of it!

Lastly I won't say a placement is not important. But ultimately the question to ask is: "Have these two years made a deep and lasting impact on me, as a person?"

I know my answer was yes, despite having dropped out of final placements. I hope each one of you feels the same about your institute. Because THAT is what really matters.

Life is NOT about getting placed but finding your place in the world. A world full of promises and possibilities... just waiting to be explored!

24 comments:

  1. Wonderful post.

    Though I still believe engineering schools still have the old times - "Exposure ke liye kar rahe hain" feeling for internships. Even for my undergrad engineering university, in spite of over 200 companies coming for providing 6 month long internships and providing jobs at the end of it, I still believe we were all interested in just working for the exposure. May be it was how I saw it.

    Anyway I think you struck a chord with
    Life is NOT about getting placed but finding your place in the world. A world full of promises and possibilities... just waiting to be explored!

    I feel exactly the same! Students who haven't even joined a college ask me often -- "What is the highest salary? Average Placement salary?..."
    And I've NEVER understood this obsession about placements. I mean, students who haven't even stepped in a college start dreaming of a Rs. million salary. People fail to understand that a college gives them MUCH (MUCH) more than just placements. Placements form such a small speck in the whole picture. Unfortunately, I still see the same race, the same madness and students still deciding their universities based on placements. People fail to understand completely that life has a lot more to offer than just money. :)

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  2. last 2 lines of this post is truly impressive.

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  3. Great post as usual.

    I am a first year student at S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research. Here at SP, we do not have summer placements. Instead we do some socially relevant project with some NGO or CSR arm of a corporate for 2 months. We have our internships in second yr autumns (oct-nov) for which the placement process takes place in late september (again second yr).

    I think this serves two purposes.
    Firstly, we don't start preparing for placements the moment we set foot on campus. Many of my friends in other business schools have already appeared for interviews within 4 months of joining MBA. In fact, the first year here is all about learning and nothing about placements as the social project is usually generated through the institute or self.
    Secondly, working in a rural environment is extremely challenging. With scarcity of resources, language barriers and lack of basic necessities in life, it teaches you how to be efficient and productive. This helps a lot when we go for our autumn internships in mid-second year.

    If such a model can be adopted across schools, i think it will be beneficial in many ways.

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  4. yes, mam depression is every everywhere but to be positive we will come out of it soon.

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  5. Actually it might make sense to retain Summer Training but have it at the end of the first year rather than in the last year. That way students can use their learnings and apply it in the course and become the better for it.

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  6. "Coz a large % of MBAs now have prior work experience."

    Rashmi,
    Pray, where you do get this 'statistic' factoid' from?
    Except for ISB....

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  7. Well, you could explore, provided you could choose to go for summer training multiple times before the placement; but because that is not the case and you would generally have a good idea of where you would be 'happiest' depending on your experience and knowledge or on what you think based on whatever you have heard/read about the various fields, you'd ideally go in that very direction. Exploration, I guess, should be done during rest of the 2 years that you spend for an MBA; working on the projects based on areas listed number 2 and further in your list of "careers to be considered". A good business school will definitely be helpful for an intelligent & inquisitive person in getting an idea of what his life would be in different fields and their subfields ( regular, non regular, upcoming etc.) and thus in deciding for a career path. Anyway, exploration doesn't end with an MBA. Moreover, an MBA is generally for getting started/ shifting gear/pressing accelerator and getting placed is a big part of that process for many.

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. Dear Rashmi,
    i would have appreciated your comments a bit more if you could have gone beyond the cursory reading of business paper's.As an IIM A grad you know how summers happen. IIM K took more days than anything quoted in papers, to complete their summer process. It might take time for any top B-school to decide on their next best option during these tough times. When you allow any companies to enter the campus you can complete the placement process within minutes in any of these schools. Furthermore there is nothing to panic as certain students are still keeping their options open, not necessarily corporate. Most of us believe,this is a blessing in disguise; as we can freely experiment anything we are passionate about by throwing the so called "peer pressure" to the dust bin
    For the record i'm a student of IIM L and I opted out of this summer process. I got an offer to work with a political party in South India and i took it.

    By the way i read your book "Stay hungry;Stay foolish", needless to say fabulous work.

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  10. Except for ISB, i doubt whether anyone else is doing it. IIM-B is turning atrocious by the day. It is producing more drones than ever.

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  11. @annamalai K : I know this is not the place for 'my b-school strongest' discussions, but just wanted to correct your facts, being a student of IIM K...
    our placements did finish on time, which was 31st October...& no one opted out of placements by themselves..
    Hope this does not lead to unnecessary arguments/discussions..

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