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Why these MBAs opted out of campus placements

Last updated on: January 24, 2011 18:04 IST

Why these MBAs opted out of campus placements

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Urmila Rao

While the placement season is one of fun and joy for many students, lack of opportunities nag so many others. Finding a way out...

As soon as the placement season commences, B-School students are thrilled. The prospect of getting through rounds of interviews and finally making a cut in a company is an achievement, like a chess game played well and won. With
economy booming, students of some top tier schools get more than one offer too. But this situation in schools beyond the top 50 is one of struggle.

As the quality of grading peters out, companies fence those schools for less creamy jobs. Mostly sales. Nagaraju* a student at a school in Madurai, agrees with the trend and adds, "At times, the sales job is on commission basis too." Such undesirable options drive a lot of students to reject campus placements and launch their own job searches.

Anand Shah, 25, a 2008 pass-out from D.G. Vaishnav College, School of Management, Chennai, is one such individual
who declined a campus offer. Instead, he floated his resume on job websites and waited for a suitable opportunity
to emerge. "The profile being offered to me was for pure sales and I wanted a marketing role," he explains.

The branded status of corporates didn't lure him either. Before long, he got a call from US-based outsourcing solutions company, Expertus, for its Chennai office, which he found suitable and joined them.

On the other hand, Amit Jaiswal* was part of a team of 25 students recruited by ICICI Lombard in 2010. The job
was for insurance sales and 22 of the 25, including him, dropped out within the first three months. Amit, who now works for a call centre says that nearly 10 of those 25 students are still jobless. How does one choose and decide?


Photographs: M.Wadekar/Careers360
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Why these MBAs opted out of campus placements

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Aspiration is the culprit

With newspapers highlighting one crore salaries for an MBA, aspirations are sky-high. Says Prof Mathews, Director
of Guruvayoorappan Institute of Management, Coimbatore, "The students look down upon any job which offers less than 3 lakh per annum."

It is the singular focus on the package which is their undoing. Companies that complain of mass exodus are also to be blamed. Most are in a tearing hurry to fill up vacancies neglecting the attribute aspect, instrumental for a steady placement.

The year-round sales hiring in companies well explains the degree of attrition that they face.

Campus placements

The name itself is a misnomer. Barring the top few colleges in big cities, most schools do not get companies to
visit them. Nandita Gurjar, HR head, at Infosys, says it is impossible to visit all the good colleges. "We work with a select few, both in engineering and management," she says. Most colleges send their students to company premises for recruitments. Bus loads of students alighting in their formal attire for facing the board is a common occurrence especially before the offices of financial services companies.

Most placements in Tier-2 and colleges below them, happen in this manner. A very few number of the colleges get campus visits. Many schools have begun tapping placement experts as a way to counter this. Students too have begun to see value in going the unconventional route.



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Why these MBAs opted out of campus placements

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No campus jobs, please

Corporates, for the most part are able to attract students for their brand value. Yet, some students like to travel off the beaten path opting for start-ups, SMEs, NGOs or prefer to set foot in an emerging sector. As, 'opportunities emerging in such companies are more versatile in nature', they feel. The notable aspect is,
for them, salaries become secondary.

It is the challenges and the possibility for very high growth and earning potential in the long run that drives them towards these virgin domains.

"These students also have specific target companies that they wish to be a part of," says Kamal Karanth, managing
director, Kelly Services. "Besides, not all companies visit all campuses."

Tarun Matta, founder of iimjobs.com, a popular job search portal for B-school placements, feels that campus placements provide very standard kind of options, therefore graduates specific in their search move on to other modes of employment search.

It has also been found that full-time MBAs possessing prior work experience form a major clutch of students choosing off-campus employment. 'The reason is they know their niche areas and are focused,' Matta reiterates.

Outsourcing placements

Institutes have also begun hiring consultants to place their students. Kris Lakshmikant, CEO, Headhunters, informs that his firm has been working with nearly 30 colleges in the south and west. Himanshu Aggarwal's Aspiring
Minds and Nishant Saxena's Elements Akademia too are involved in the same field, filling the yawning gap.

Regional placements, where a student is able to communicate in the local language, is also on the rise. A student
from a leading Noida school says, "In most lower order schools, the companies scout candidates for frontline jobs,
hence proficiency in local language is a must." So if you are applying to a school outside your region, make sure it has reputation of pan-India placement, else stick to a good local school.



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The contrarians

But what about students, who despite evincing satisfaction with the on-school offer, tend to look out? "That is merely to assess one's market value," articulates Aggarwal, co-founder and director, Aspiring Minds.

Aspirations do play a determining factor in final 'yes' to a job acceptance. Or 'no' for that matter. Aggarwal's experience says that Tier-I students are predominantly more aspiring. Not a bad trait as long it is matched well with ground realities.

"We have found that in some cases it doesn't." The dissatisfaction is chiefly on wages and job profiles. And the result of mismatch: resignation.

There are several other reasons as well why off-campus employment is considered, says Aggarwal. Campus placement
has typically been plagued with the "Day Order" phenomenon, he says. The mechanism pushes students to appear,
contest and accept offers for jobs which are not their first choice.

"When they get an offer from one organisation, their access to subsequent organisations visiting campus gets sealed," he explains. Hence, off campus job-hunts.

The general economic scenario also plays a crucial role in the way placements play out. For example the batch
of 2009 which graduated at the peak of slowdown in the global economy, does continue to find getting right opportunities difficult. As Ramesh Chand a Senior Executive at Motorola says, the moment you pass out from the B-school, you are no more a fresher, and immediately get identified as jobless. And getting out of that identifier is not very easy.

Since the year 2008-09 wasn't that encouraging for candidates a lot of them trawled jobs directly in the market. Matta concedes that the traffic on his portal, iimjobs.com had shot up tremendously during the period and since then it steadily receded in 2010.

It is argued that students from top-notch schools don't need to scout, as jobs superlative in all respects, are available to them. Rohit Khurana* puts it, "IIMs don't float their resumes in public forums."

A 2010 pass out from one of the IIMs, Rohit too refused an on-campus placement. However, his reason was different.

A civil engineer by profession, he was employed with a leading engineering and construction company, prior to MBA. When the former company offered him a job locating him to his hometown in south post the course, he couldn't resist the offer.

While it has been seen that creme de la creme of 'A' grade institutions rarely venture out by virtue of education
garnered from old-age established colleges combined with their on-campus performance, other students do. And
'some amazing opportunities can be uncovered off-school,' maintains Bhatia, founder and CEO, Aspire.

"Besides, the competition is with a smaller pool of candidates where they can differentiate themselves from other applicants," he says. Well, that implies room for talent certainly exists.

So, how do companies view such applicants?

"Companies appreciate such students," says Bhatia. Sanjay Salunkhe, Director, Jaro education, who is inducting
200 fresh MBAs as part of the company's expansion drive, echoes the sentiment.

"We need fresh talent whether it is off or campus," he says. Leading HR firm Kelly Services has hired limited number of freshers.

The direct approach may be annoying to schools, but as far as Matta's views go, this is a good sign. "Because institutes shouldn't be in the business of giving students a job," he reasons. "They are not placement agencies," he avers. On the other hand, when institutes behave like bad marketing personnel promising the moon, students options get restricted too.

Finding a job on one's own especially as a fresher could be daunting.

Bhatia says students must prefer personal referrals and job sites for their search. All options are fine as long as the caveat is followed: qualification plus attributes and not aspiration should lead the job search. And salaries must not be the decider.



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