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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.

A couple of days after this was published IIM L did announce it had placed all students but obviously things have been difficult. And if this is the case at premier bschools imagine the trauma at the rest!

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!

If you would like to update us on the placement scene at your college email edit@jammag.com

Rashmi Bansal

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