Monday, June 11, 2007

Mera job tere job se...

"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 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.


  1. Rashmi,

    Students in the higher-rated colleges these days are better informed about the conditions in the industry. Much of this is from experience of "seniors". And if a company recruits 60 students in one batch in one college, then surely the opinion that is formulated is bound to be reasonably close to the truth.

    And the truth is - in today's IT industry, very few of the "mass-recruiters" as you call them, are able to offer job roles commensurate with the intake's capability, talent and credentials. I dont see anything wrong in students yearning to get "better work". These days, even pay (atleast starting pay) has been demoted to the second spot in the list of top factors for an individual choosing a company. The top is - "Type of work/Job role". And as you rightly mentioned, some companies recruit much higher in anticipation of attrition, which in turn negatively impacts the experience of those who do join.

    Of course, this is just one side of the coin. If you are lucky (initially), and good enough (in the long run), then you can shape yourself a good career path regardless of the company you are in.

    The conclusion - its the student's choice - If he/she is content with the work that is provided with the mass-recruiters - so be it. If he/she thinks that such a company may not offer what he/she is looking for (or is not willing to take that chance), then such a student is right in his/her view too.

  2. well, you are very right when you say all this. I too am currently pursuing my engineering, just completed my 3rd year and got placed in Infosys on the 8th of April, 2007.

    I agree that the craze and self satisfaction of being recruited by these top honchos has certainly died in people. I personally was not happy considering am just one among 100 those who were selected too..I just feel as if am lost somewhere in the crowd. But, yeah my parents are happy. They still consider that this is something big an achievement for me.

    Personally speaking, TCS still has some certain standard procedures for selecting candidates, but as far as Infosys is concerned, i felt it was just a cakewalk to get through with no technical skills being required.

    Anyways, I am certainly not thinking of joinin it. I would rather go for an MS.

    You didnt write wht'd be your conclusion to all of it.I am really looking forward for it.


  3. You are spot on!A correct portrayal of what the actual facts are in this age of fast and furious placements.

  4. absolutely!!
    TCS in our college is like the last refuge to a battered engineering student.

    But , I have heard (from seniors etc.)a few yrs. down the line they offer much better career opportunities unilke small cos.

    what do you think?

  5. it's not coz TCS is a mass-recruiter that students refuse to join. it's coz it's a consultancy job which takes in people from all streams, not just IT branches.
    One HR Head from a prominent services co. i know said "within fifteen days of our training, there won't be any difference between a Civil guy and a Comps guy". if this is the case, why will anyone who has spent four years studying software and hardware concepts want to waste his skills in a co. where all that is required is programming skills that any tom dick or harry can learn? such co.s offer nothing more than white-collared coolie jobs.
    on the other hand, a company like IBM or Google or Yahoo is able to offer a better environment for a serious software/hardware guy to exercise his skills and develop new ones, and Language skills arent what i'm talking about.
    at an NIT, you learn that a comps grad can deal with more than making products that are just larger in scale than the monotonous projects you do in the course of your eight semesters there. and we also have a mandatory industrial training requirement which exposes us to industry and its practices hence enabling us to make a more informed decision about our career paths.
    the day is not far when the job boom will cease, coz programmers will soon be obsolete, the whole essence of computer engineering is to make machines that can understand the language you speak in, and once that is done, the world won't need programmers anymore.
    that may sound megalomaniacal, but that's what happens to the level of your thinking in an NIT. you tend to understand that the sky is not the limit.

  6. Great post, explaining point of view of each side.

    More on this topic - read my posts below...

    When no one has work - Everything but Work

    What is challenging work in an IT company? -

  7. hey...I completed my B.E IT in our campus placements happened in 2004 and at that time TCS was one of the most sought out companies. They came in one the 'Day 0' and took the cream of the lot...and really gave our placement committee unlcers with kabhi haan kabhie naa attitude.

    I've been pretty cut off from the engg scene but am really surprised to hear that TCS is a last resort sort of a company.....

    how tables turn!!!

  8. What goes around come around ?!?!
    So the biggies are really 'smallies' in campuses !

    That was some revelation !

  9. Once a student joins the corporate world it depends on his ability and his experience to switch to a better job (as few of my friends have successfully did). The others have to realise that it is better than being someone on a factory shopfloor.

    And parents !!
    [i]Oh TCS of the TATA salt brandddd.
    Desh ka namakkkk. My boy's the next Bill Gates.[/i]

  10. How right you are! I am myself an electronics engineer graduated from the Mumbai University.And the very same dellima was faced by many of my friends as well as friends!

  11. InfoSys does have different divisions - people actually look forward to getting into InfoSys. I don't mean those walk-ins but rather the campus placements.

    In terms of campus placements, IBM is into mass recruiting as much as TCS is - in fact, their numbers were higher than TCSs.

    Strand Lifesciences, Google, Microsoft and Adobe just about never engage in mass recruitment.

  12. I am an electrical engineer, worked in an IT company.. left job for my MBA and back to IT industry.

    1. Lets face the fact, most of the engineering students who sit for these interviews are plain vinilla programmers...they are not fit to work on cutting edge software or hardwar... Most of the image of IT industry is misplaced. The mass recruiters are SERVICE companies. Their business model is around no.of person-hours they can BILL. This is the reason they need such large people.

    2. Again most of the candidates only make a choice of the Job, very few think about a career and then take a decision. As few others have pointed out, its primarily the ability of the individual to make his career.. doesnt help blaming the company to keep them on bench.

    3. Companies try to pamper the new joinees as much as they can.. lavish facilities, swanky offices and what not. The expectation about work is very unrealistic as they tend to compare work in the same league as world class facilities

    4. The frustration also comes up from the fact that remunaration of companies which are not mass-recruiters Microsoft/ Adobe/ Google/Yahoo are 9 lakh + figures. our education system produces very few such deserving candidates. Its case of the grapes hung too high for the jackle...

    the debate about the job place being good or bad is never end. with the VARIETY of choices one has in today's time comparisons are always based on emotions than sensibility.

  13. I was waiting for this issue to be addressed.In our college(not an IIT or a NIT)such is the response:
    1.ppl don't want to appear for TCS,Infosys,Wipro...not even IBM GDIC as they recruit in large numbers
    2.students are becoming very choosy about salaries.

    3.There is a lot of awareness about job profiles in the various IT companies.

    4.good students have more than one offer usually and average students have at least one offer.

    5.the selection criteria is becoming more and more relaxed and the big 5 are recruiting earlier and earlier...sometimes at the start of pre-final year.

    6.A service agreement or a bond is also an important factor in choosing the right company.

  14. Their is another aspect to all this and why it is happening esp. to all top 4 Indian home grown IT companies.

    Most of the work until 2002-2003 was in support/legacy application and mainframes, no new technology or products came out from India, in fact most of the new work/innovative work still comes from other countries.

    As the economy has grown and our companies has grown tehy are more cash riched new work is coming and is more creative and challenging.
    But that means that seniors in companies move to these jobs and juniors do all teh dirty work.

    And freshers are cheap which means one person job in US can divided by 10 here which will lead to ist own issues.

    Anyway that one aspect of this issue.

  15. As a person who graduated from an NIT(ok then known as REC) in the 2001-2002 Economic Doom time , let me tell you a story. In year 2000, our college had a dream placement with ppl refusing to take interviews(sit in Campus lingo) for companies like TCS, Infy (remember I am talking of 2000 not 2006-07).

    But the next year 2001 saw the 9/11 happenings coinciding with my placement season . And guess what happened Infosys refused to come to our campus since it did not get the Day 0 spot(TCS took the honours) and in batch of 350 ppl 150 ppl took the TCS interview . This number was a measly 50 in the boom 2000 placement season .So I guess it all boils down to the economic cycle. Students today have a lot more choices thanks to the India's economic growth story and hence the feeling that an Infosys or TCS placement is not the best. Back then , we were thankful that TCS recruited close to 40 of the 50 people they interviewed.

  16. Economic cycle definitely has an impact but the information available in flat world is also helping in determining better choices.

    I had this same issue back in 2001 when i graduated in Australia it was tough to get a job and it took a lot of patience to find that and now others (new grads) are getting without much pain.

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