Careers and Placement
THE PLACEMENT SEASON BRINGS WITH IT A HULLABALOO OVER WHOPPING PAY PACKETS AND ENVIABLE CAREER PROFILES. IT’S A STUDENT’S PLAYGROUND, WITH INDIAN AND INTERNATIONAL CORPORATES VYING TO ENLIST THE SERVICES OF THE INDIAN MBA STUDENT. STUDENTS SHARE THEIR VIEWS ON HOW YOU CAN MAKE THE CUT
It’s the time when most B-school students are caught up in a whirlwind of activities — multiple applications and interviews — and campuses eagerly await judgement day, when students finally learn whether the blood and sweat of the past two years, and the gamble that started it all — their enrolment and investment in a B-school — is about to pay rich dividends. During placement season, recruiters from every sector descend on B-school campuses across the country to ensure that the best business brains bring their extensive resources and fresh vigour to their organisations. Placement season is critical for students; it is the culmination of two years of the finest postgraduate education available, and often students have but a few crucial moments to make an instant and lasting impression on the recruitment committee. How do you make your efforts count?
PREPARATION & PRESENTATION
When you set out to interact with potential recruiters, you need to be prepared to answer a volley of questions and ensure you make a good first impression. Sandeep Bhattacharjee, an IIM-Kozhikode student, currently dealing with his lateral placements, says, “You obviously have to research the company well, because you will be quizzed about your knowledge of the company. Recruiters look for soft skills and want to see confidence and enthusiasm in a student. They pose several questions and try to put a lot of stress on you.You have to be able to deal with it.” In spite of the intimidating and unpredictable nature of placement interviews, there are certain questions and situations you can be prepared for. Bhattacharjee adds, “When you first enter the room, you’re likely to be asked to go over your resume and be quizzed on it. You will also be asked generic questions about why you are applying to that particular organisation, what you think your strengths and weaknesses are, etc.” Brijesh Shirodkar, a National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE) alumni, further elaborates on the types of interviews, saying, “There are usually two kinds of interviews — one for people with work experience, and one for people who started pursuing their MBA immediately after graduation.” Students with prior work experience are questioned to gauge how well they have understood the business process. Brijesh, who has a few years of work experience in the IT industry and landed a job with Cognizant, Pune, explains: “If a student with IT experience is being interviewed by a retail recruiter, they won’t be interested in which IT branch he was involved with, but will checked on how well he’s understood the business process. So retail recruiters will ask him about how retail operations work, and how his IT skills and knowledge can contribute to their business.” Students who have jumped onto the MBA bandwagon straight after graduation have other challenges to face at the interview.“The focus is primarily on academics, on their performance during their MBA programme, and perhaps a little bit on their graduation. Extra curricular activities are extremely important as these demonstrate initiative, leadership skills, and the student’s capacity for teamwork.”
SET CLEAR GOALS
As someone who has invested time and money in pursuing and acquiring a coveted MBA degree, you are expected to be very certain about what you are looking for. A lackadaisical attitude is not going to impress a recruitment committee. Shirodkar says,“You will be asked by recruiters about how you think you can achieve your goals with their organisation.“ The student should be clear on parameters like the company, the brand, the profile he is being offered and so on.
In many cases, if you’re made an offer by an organisation, there is pressure to accept, even if you’re having second thoughts about it. However, that isn’t always the case. Rohan Mathur, Member of Placement Committee, IIM Ahmedabad, says: “Students always have an option, especially in case of lateral placements, because they can play the work experience card. They can negotiate several parameters, whether it’s the job profile, the pay packet or even the location. They can insist they want to work in New York and not in London.” To this, Brijesh adds: “Some colleges allow students to keep taking interviews until they find something suitable. Although companies insist on students accepting offers, colleges also insist on keeping their students’ options open.”
MAKE IT ON YOUR OWN
In a situation where you are unhappy with the options open to you, consider individual jobhunting as opposed to compromising on what you want in your first job. Priya Das (name changed), a student from a suburban Mumbai B-school started her own job search when she was dissatisfied with what was on offer during placements. She says, “You will never find the perfect job right away, even if you’re from an IIM. You need to look out for any and every new opening.”
CAPITALISE ON YOUR INTERNSHIPS
Plenty of MBA students pursue an internship during the length of their programme and like with any other internship, it is an excellent opportunity to grow and learn. Be resourceful and use this brief exposure to the corporate world to network and nurture professional relationships. Abhinav Jain, a student of National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE) was made a Pre Placement Offer (PPO) from Ernst & Young after a summer internship there, and grabbed the opportunity. He offers, “If you have identified an attractive recruiter and are sure you want to start there, you need to give it your best shot and go about making a lasting impression on your manager. You are normally assigned a project during your internship, at the end of which you are asked to make presentations in relation to it. Your manager, HR personnel and other senior members will be present then. This is your time to make your mark. .” Many institutes encourage this practice. Mathur avers, “We have a system of the ‘dream firm’, so even if students have landed preplacement offers, they can enroll to the placement process as well to take a shot at making it to their top option.”
What do recruiters look for? –
Competence in the sphere you are applying to – Personal qualities such as team work, confidence, clarity of direction and abilty to handle stress