This report was the first indication that it's not 'business as usual' at the IITs. Four days into the placement season Economic Times noted:
The number of IITians recruited this year has been 60% lower than 2007, when there was a huge response during the first few days. Many companies like Shell, RIL, Credit Suisse, HUL, Transocean, Dell and NetApp had initially said they would be coming to the campuses, but later backed out...
So far, IIT Bombay has had the best opening placements this year, with 32 students being offered jobs on the first day and around 28 on Day 2... IIT Kanpur saw around 55 students being placed on both days, compared to 90 last year...The IITs in Chennai, Delhi and Kharagpur saw only around 30-35 of their students being hired on both Day 1 and Day 2, while in 2007 the recruitments were as high as 90 on both days.
Well, while all the attention so far has been focussed on MBA placements, the Wall Street meltdown was bound to affect IITs as well. Leading investment banks had been hiring students for analyst positions from IITs over the last few years. The numbers they recruited were rising every year - these were the *dream jobs* which put IITians in a different league.
As an analyst at Lehman Bros Mumbai office puts it: "12-15 students from EACH IIT joined this year as analysts and several such companies used to visit the various IITs." Lehman (now known as Nomura) is not visiting any campus this year and neither are the likes of Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch.
Names like Lime Group, Mercer Oliver Wyman and Pimco (which offered a $100,000 packaage last year) are now history. There are a few naam ke vaaste recruitments from HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley and (surprise!) Citigroup.
The other prestigious recruiters at the IITswere consulting companies like McKinsey, BCG and Tower research. They have reduced number of offers. Same with the likes of HUL and ITC. Yahoo, amazon, google, Microsoft, Oracle - still hiring. But it's not clear if the numbers are equal to last year.
So where are students going? "Core" companies or tech as they call it on campus. This morning ET reported: While IIT-Kharagpur saw 140 'core companies' visiting the campus this year — up from 120 last year — at IIT-Delhi, out of 150 companies, 100 were from the core sector.
Companies like NTPC are more than pleased.
“Till now, we have been getting low-ranking students, but this year was different, with better slots and better students,” says NTPC director (HR) SK Srivastava. The PSU plans to hire around 1,000 students this year from IITs and NITs (National Institute of Technology). While the number of students hired from IITs were around 100 last year, it is expected to jump more than 100% this year. NTPC has already sent 400 letters of intent (LoI) to freshers.
However even on the core job front one of the traditional favourites - Schlumberger - has cut back hiring drastically. Last year this company had picked up 35 + students from IIT KGP and IIT Roorkee alone - now it is down to 2-3!
The newer IITs like Roorkee seem to be the worst hit. Prestigious recruiters would rather show up and make a couple of goodwill hires at the likes of IIT B and D.
Anyhow - those are the facts of the matter. Here is what I think of the entire scenario.
* It's all about expectations: Strangely enough IITs are more affected than say, the NITs, VJTIs or DCEs of the world. That's because they had placed a lot of their eggs in the finance basket. These jobs offered glamour and high pay packages - which other companies coming in their place now cannot match. So even though I am sure all students will get placed, there will be a feeling of *poor me*.
Bhai 'ordinary job' lene ke liye thodi itne saal bheja fry kiya tha. Not all IITians got those glam offers but at least *some* did. And that was a huge boost for 'brand IIT'.
The lesson for IIT aspirants: Instant 'success' in terms of an out-of-this-world job at age 22 may or may not come to you. It depends on factors that have nothing to do with you. So think carefully about what you really want to do in life!
* The dice is dicey: Even within core companies, some industries are affected. Semiconductors, for example. Texas Instruments and Analog Devices are offering far fewer jobs and this impacts Electronics & Electrical Engineering grads.
Civil and Mechanical are in demand due to the infrastructure boom. L & T is now a cool company!
The lesson for those trying to choose a 'hot branch': You can never know! The best strategy is to try and embrace whatever branch you choose, or happen to get. Immerse yourself in it, learn to 'enjoy' it. Because you may need to or want to make a career out of it. Don't sleepwalk through your course and close that door.
* Choosing the lesser of two evils: I felt the NTPC guy was a bit bombastic. But speaking to a couple of NIT students I learnt this interesting fact: Asked to choose between joining an Indian software company and a PSU, junta prefers the PSU. Why?
"Because they pay more (avg CTC of Rs 4-5.5 lakhs) and offer job security."
But the students hasten to add,"If you join an Infy or Wipro you will spend at least 6-8 months on the bench doing nothing... At the PSU the work culture may not be too exciting but at least you get some experience which will count when the time comes to switch jobs."
And that time will surely come - say two years from now. Yes, sadly for NTPC. It can recruit all it wants but it will never be able to retain these 'better students'. They will jump ship at the first available opportunity!
The lesson for those who think they got a raw deal today: Things can only get better. So take a long term view of your career. Wherever you work, make sure you learn, grow and shoulder significant responsibility.
And never mind what the doomsday pundits say. One enterprising BTech who was with Lehman quit and joined an Indian finance company some months ago. They pay less but give him far more exposure. And he is sure his gamble will pay off when markets bounce back, as they are bound to. In due time.
In the meantime, remind yourself,"Life is not a Formula 1 race". Even in the best of times, don't push your career di gaddi too fast or to the limit. Or everyone and everything else around you will be nothing but a giant blur.
Sometimes Destiny applies the brakes but at other times you have to!
Tomorrow: The impact on other engineering colleges. I've been hearing some sad stuff from here as well. To share news and views from your campus drop a line to rashmi_b at yahoo.com.