B-schools bank on counsellors for a good placement season

Last Updated: Thu, Jan 09, 2014 05:39 hrs

Somewhere in the middle of their regular electives' classes on advanced digital signal processing, access technologies and networks, Bachelor of Technology students at the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DAIICT) receive a mail on the intranet about a 'mandatory' class. The students are asked to be present for the class at 5 pm.

This class, at one of Gujarat's top engineering institutes, is a counselling session for 200-odd students who will sit for final placements. The aim of the session is to din into them the cons of having unrealistic expectations from the job market.

A few miles away, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) is also thinking on similar lines. "With the few graduates bagging plum jobs batch after batch, parents and students alike are building their expectations. Now, as far as the expectations are limited to the median or low-rung of job offers, it is fine. But there has occurred an increased need for counselling the students since much of the expectations are based on the top rung of job offers bagged by others," said a senior faculty member from IIM-A.

  • Many students reject job offers which do not meet their expectations
  • Institutes have hired third party counsellors to advise students on having realistic expectations
  • Institutes have increased the number of counselling sessions on campus
  • Institutes say parents need counselling too  
  • There is an increase in post-placement season counselling as well
  • Bagging an offer below one's salary expectation or not being offered a job at all makes students anxious

The faculty member added high expectations were on account of both students and parents. An emailed query to Placement Chairperson Kirti Sharda went unanswered.

Last year, engineering and management institutes, including the top ones, faced difficulties in achieving 100 per cent placements. While many students refused to accept job offers, which were below their expectations, others ended up without jobs. The institutes do not want a repeat of the same this year.

In fact, an IIM, which did not want to be identified, has, for the first time, hired a third party professional to introduce counselling sessions for its students.

"Students took tests to ascertain their skill sets and align them with their job and salary expectations. This is a good introspection exercise," said the placement committee chairperson of the IIM.

Ahead of their final placements, institutes across the country are on a counselling drive to tell their students not to have unrealistic expectations in terms of job offers and salary packages.

Institutes said, given their large batch sizes, it had become imperative to counsel students. While placements at many B-schools and engineering institutes have begun, at IIMs they would begin at this month-end. The institutes said students were extremely selective about the companies they wished to join. This selectivity drives companies away from the campus, despite the fact that they have jobs to offer.

Besides, graduates said they were ready to wait a bit for the right opportunity than pick up a job offer which was "below" their level and expectations.

"We are telling students to look at the job profile and excel in what you do. We are telling them not to look at the competition but be careful in what they decide," said Godwin Tennyson, assistant professor and chairperson, Placement and External Relations at IIM-Trichy.

Though Sankarshan Basu, faculty chairperson for placement and career development services (CDS) at IIM-Bangalore (IIM-B) agreed that counselling efforts had increased, he didn't see any significant difference in the overall process. "Students definitely need counselling and as a system we do provide the same. Given the increase in the size of the batches, the effort required has increased - that apart I do not see any significant difference in the process over the years," he said.

DAIICT, in the past year, has doubled its counselling sessions from three to six. "We invite a third-party professional, resident faculty or visiting faculty to take the counselling sessions. We have to apprise the students about the level of their expectations and how to build realistic expectations. We also take our alumni's help. We even train them on market situations prevailing as far as the job scenario is concerned," said Anjali Kulshrestha, placement officer at DAIICT.

According to Kulshrestha, DAIICT conducts both pre- and post- placement counselling sessions. "They are freshers and don't know what to look forward to as far as placements are concerned," she added.

Other mid-rung B-schools and engineering institutes that Business Standard spoke to added placement committees have had to plan counselling schedules with students. "We have had to increase the level of counselling in recent times, especially this year, since due to the economic slowdown many students are finding it tough to bag an offer. This has forced us to plan our counselling schedules with them and help them make realistic expectations," a placement committee member at one of the top engineering institutes in Ahmedabad said.

The member added what was different this year was the increased level of post-placement season counselling, wherein bagging an offer lower than one's expectation or not being offered at all has led to increased level of anxieties among students.

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