IIT Placement Cell Operations: The Real Story behind Mega Placements!
Astha Agrawal from IIT-Bombay has been in news headlines ever she got a job offer from Facebook worth Rs 2.1 crore. As many as 15 IIT-B students received crore-plus packages while more than half of its students (about 700 students) got hired right in the first week. Oracle offered Rs 2.3 crore to an IIT-BHU student – highest offer ever made at the IITs. Most other IITs fared well too. E-commerce and start-up firms across IITs hired a number of students at double-digit salary packages.
But what we don’t realize is that such astounding results just do not happen on their own. The IIT placements cells, which mostly includes students, work tirelessly all the year round to make this possible.
IIT-B Placement Team is the Best
At the Powai campus of IIT Bombay, a 146-member team of placement coordinators work industriously on dozens of phone lines to contact and negotiate with the companies. This year, the institute had reached out to as many as 5,000 companies to enable 1,600 students graduating this year get well-heeled career launchpads during the placement season. It takes more than 100 phone calls and about 60 emails to get one company or firm to join the IIT placement season as a recruiter.
IIT-B placement team is one of the best in India and is organised into 6 placement managers, 50 company coordinators, 50 department placement coordinators, 10 associate placement coordinators etc for greater efficiency. Company coordinators contact employers and convince them to recruit from IITs during the placement season while department placement coordinators prepare students for group discussions, interviews and aptitude tests.
Responsibilities & Opportunities
Hundreds of students pass off this annual ritual of placement work at the IITs (and IIMs and most other engineering colleges and B-schools across India), under the able-leadership of their professors or institute staff members. Placement officers decide the slots for the companies on the basis of number of students they want to hire, compensation and profiles they are offering, student preferences, and past relation of company and their college.
Hence, they learn to do smart, on-the-spot decisions, do strategic planning and some really complicated mathematical calculations, and learn to look into various probabilities and possibilities to maximize campus hiring standards – in terms of number of students that get hired, and the salary packages (minimum, average and maximum) at which the graduating students get hired.
Nishith Kejriwal, the first-year student of IIM-Indore, worked as a Coordinator of the Placement Committee for batch of 2014. He shared, “I visited 40-50 companies during every term break for a year. At this time, I and other members of the team used to live at relatives’ homes. During the final placement season, we worked for 6-8 hours after class. We have to be attentive to every whim and fancy of the recruiters but hardly anyone says thank you to us after getting placed.” At IIM-I, the second-year students handle summer internships and hand down the entire database they collect to first-year students to use for final placements. Being part of the core placement team at the IITs are great skill-building exercises for students.
Game of Chess
During the placement season, two major forces are at work. Recruiters fight with each other to lay their hands on the best talent across the campuses. Campuses, on the other hand, compete with each other to get their hands on the top recruiters, highest salary packages, and greatest number of job offers.
IIT faculty and students also use sophisticated project management software to aid their recruiter hunt. IIT Kanpur has a 46-member placement team. Hence, it uses the software to monitor all calls, record the missed calls and issue alerts for call backs. IIT-K placement team has been at work since February and got 250 recruiters registered.
Negotiations with the companies are much more strategic and need human intervention. An IIT alumnus who had been a placement coordinator earlier shared, “We have to be on our toes to placate companies. If we can offer them a better slot, we may allow them to start their recruitment process an hour earlier than their competitors. We try to convince companies to offer better roles or make more offers if they want a better slot.”
This is not all. Placement teams also work hard to make hotel arrangements and arrange food for recruiters (according to their preferences). Special arrangements are made for international recruiters.
Ugly Side of Placements
Placement cells at IITs are not totally transparent. There are cases where selections are based on ‘friendly favours’ and rejections ‘political’. There have been allegations that IIT placement teams focus on higher number of job offers than higher quality of jobs – which is not fair for ambitious achievers. Allocation of funds for placement cell functioning also came under fire now-and-then.
Yet, with stellar placements this year, we can say that the placement cells at IITs seem to be treading on the right path. All the best to them!