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Here’s how IITs, IIMs are planning to get jobs for their students in COVID-hit economy

Regular dialogue with students and recruiters, online placement drives, training students ahead of the placements, and internships for those in the penultimate year. Here is how IITs and IIMs are expecting a ‘good’ hiring season despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Job placement at the top management and engineering colleges is set to kick off this year amid the coronavirus pandemic which forced many companies to either rescind offers they had already made, hand out pink slips or effect salary cuts to stay afloat. Institutes are, however, positive about their upcoming placements, claiming there are certain sectors which will continue to see growth despite the pandemic.

Amit Karna, chairperson of placements at IIM-Ahmedabad believes that technology-driven firms, especially health-tech, fintech, and ed-tech companies will see more hiring this season. “Consulting firms are also looking strong in their participation in our placement process,” said Karna.

To adjust to the changing times, all the institutes have moved their placement process online. While IIT-Madras has started the online internship process early and has already seen one round of internships, IIM-Ahmedabad has deferred its placements by a month, which now will take place in December.

Certain institutes, including the top-ranking undergraduate varsities – IIT-Madras and IIT-Delhi – have made a provision to allow students who could not get a preferred job last year to re-appear for the placements this year as well.

For students with little exposure, IIM-Udaipur is planning to hold workshops to adapt to the new setting along with the routine placement training. In case of special eligibility requirements by a firm, case-by-case basis training will also be offered to students, the institute said. IIM-Udaipur also said it is strengthening its infrastructure to support the online medium of recruitment.

IIT-Mandi in Himachal Pradesh too is offering training for its students in online placement drive weeks in advance. IIT-Mandi students are also preparing for the placement drive by working on focused projects which the institute claims “will help them practice skills required to crack the online test of the companies”.

Even as IIM-Ahmedabad has deferred its placement till December, it is ready to conduct virtual placement drives, if need be. “Our application process has been on a cloud-based system for the last several years. This year, we are also holding virtual pre-placement talks by firms,” informed Karna.

IIT-Madras, which had already held an internship drive online for its penultimate year students, said they decided on the date to hold the internship drive after holding three surveys with students and two with the companies.

Prof NV Ravi Kumar, advisor internship, IIT-Madras, said, “We had requested companies to be flexible considering that several of our students were in remote and far-flung locations where Internet connectivity may not be as good as in urban locations.”

Will salaries offered take a dip?

Most of the institutes do not expect a dip in salaries for the ‘quality recruits’. IIT-Madras claims to have seen a rise in the number of companies in its online internship drive from 147 offers last year to 152 this year. While the average salaries offered remained the same, the highest packages were offered by foreign-based firms. The institute received two foreign internship offers, one each from Rubrik’s Software Development, USA, and Jane Street’s Quantitative Researcher, Hong Kong. These were also the highest made offers so far, the IIT-Madras said. The institute is expecting it to set the tone for the placement drive as well and high packages from foreign companies can be expected.

“In times of crisis, recruiters who continue to hire expect better quality out of the students. Anyone participating in a job market this year will do better based on the skills and competencies that they possess and can demonstrate,” said Karna.

Abhishek Goel, placement committee, chairperson at IIM-Calcutta said, “While the pandemic has resulted in huge disruption across the economy, it has also thrown open several opportunities for management graduates in various sectors, which are being focused on. The advice this year is to prepare harder, stay patient, and calm. Building a career is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Anishya Madan, head, the office of career services (OCS), IIT-Delhi said students need to be “positive, confident and prepare for success”. The institute is already conducting internship drives and for placements, special instructions have been issued to students.

For students from tier-I cities and colleges, Janat Shah, Director, IIM-Udaipur suggested “taking up application-based internship opportunities to boost their skills and keep an active and updated profile on LinkedIn as it is a great platform to connect to business leaders/recruiters.”