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Placement jitters

Seetharaman R | Updated on January 27, 2018 Published on March 13, 2016

While the economy is on a slow track, what is the mood in college campuses as companies come calling? Seetharaman R chats with a few students to get a feel of the action

‘Pay packages have not risen’

Pavithraa Swaminathan, a B Com graduate and a final year MBA student from SSN College, Chennai, is jubilant about the current market scenario. She believes that there is an increase in recruitments this year compared to last year.

“The market is booming and a lot of companies are coming for placements. A good number, around 50 per cent of students, have already been placed. As I talk, companies are pouring in and my friends are getting recruited,” she says, proudly. But she is concerned about the kind of roles offered to her and her batch mates.

“Placements are mainly for non-core activities. Most of the companies that come for recruitment are for marketing. Core roles in finance and operations continue to elude us. Those are still filled up by IIM graduates,” she adds.

She is also concerned about the intense competition in the corporate world and believes that getting placed is just the tip of the iceberg.

“The feedback I get from my seniors is that the growth opportunities are limited after the initial placement,” she recounts.

While students are getting on the start-up bandwagon too, taking up offers from start-ups, there aren’t many who are willing to bite the bullet to become entrepreneurs themselves.

Pay packages have also not moved up in a meaningful manner.

Pavithraa says that the average salary that is being offered this year is the same as the previous year at ₹3-4 lakh per annum.

The highest offer made so far is about ₹6 lakh per annum, she adds.

‘More IT-related jobs’

Twenty-one-year-old Pavithra M, a final year engineering student of Electronics and Communication from MNM Jain College, got a taste of the tough job market during her placement season.

“The competition is tough with so many engineering students. We have to be a notch higher than the rest to get placed,” she admits.

Pavithra is lucky to have an offer from Infosys but feels that companies have high expectations from students and the selection criteria are stringent. “There are more companies coming to the campus compared to last year. But these companies are offering fewer jobs and only pick the best,” she says.

Students predominantly get placed in IT and IT-enabled companies and there are very few openings in the core mechanical and civil engineering space. “Across all engineering branches, if 10 companies come for recruitment, only one is for the core sector. The salaries offered are low at ₹1.5-2 lakh per annum,” she adds.

She says that while quite a few start-ups have been coming for placements, the tough contractual conditions that these companies impose are a real letdown. "Start-ups ask for contractual bonds for a year or two. At the same time, the salary is low, at ₹1.5 lakh per annum with no surety of increment at the end of the year,” she says.

How many students have opted to take the path of entrepreneurship? “Our college has started an entrepreneurship club but no student has started a company of his/her own so far,” adds Pavithra.

‘Many new recruiters’

Murali Vijay, an engineer passing out of IIM Shillong after his masters in management, is happy about his final year placement. Contrary to expectations, the placements actually turned out better than last year. “More than 90 per cent of the earlier recruiters came for placements this year. There were a notable number of new recruiters too,” he adds. The placements were over in October 2015 and the institute saw a stream of IT and IT-enabled sector companies offering diverse profiles.

“Surprisingly, IT and consulting companies offered excellent profiles. New e-commerce companies also offered a good number of placements,” he says.

Murali has been able to grab an annual pay package of over ₹10 lakh and he believes that the current placement has been better than the previous year. “All students in a batch size of 138 got placed this year. The median salary was ₹14 lakh per annum, a lakh of rupees more than the earlier batch,” he says.

There are many budding entrepreneurs, too, in Murali’s batch. “There are already 4 to 5 start-ups expected to be rolled out from the current batch. In fact, one of my friends is working on his fourth start-up after tasting partial success in the earlier ventures,” he reveals.

Regarding jobs with start-ups, students preferred to opt for an established name and interesting job profiles.

‘Few core sector offers’

Swetha Ramesh, a fourth-year student of the five-year M Sc (Integrated) course in Information Technology, thinks the market offers greater opportunities than last year. But the dearth of core sector (manufacturing, engineering, etc) placements worries her. “Only two in every five companies that come for placement are from the core sector. This ratio used to be higher a few years back.” The placement scene has become competitive, with the number of interview rounds increasing every year, she says. Students opting for higher studies continue to form a major share. Many go for higher studies even if they get a final job offer. “People get placed at an average pay package of ₹5 to ₹15 lakh per annum. Many go for masters in the US or an MBA in India if they do not get the placement of their choice,” she adds. She says that, although her friends get excited at the mention of a start-up, they continue to be picky.

“Some people do start their own companies. We generally allow placements by start-ups that have an established name or companies started by our own seniors,” she says.

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