With the economy on a comprehensive upswing, this year’s placements were a much looked forward to affair. There were several sweeping changes with respect to how this year’s Institute Placement Team (IPT) approached the monumental task of securing jobs for everyone. There were changes not only in the Placement Policy, but also to the overall structure of the IPT. Company Coordinators (CCs) were incorporated with the sole purpose of contacting companies, in addition to Department Placement Coordinators (DPCs) whose job was to hold preparatory activities for students. Changes with respect to the structure of the team and the policy have been dealt with comprehensively in previous issues (Recall: The Placement Reformation: Through the Looking Glass & Placement Policy 2010: No Easy Game). With this article we shall try to analyse whether these changes have borne fruit.
Lookback on the Placement Policy
Point System: This year, the system of Penalty Points was made stricter, if a student accumulates 15 penalty points, the next 3 companies that he applies to would be informed of his misdemeanours through a Penalty Certificate.This was done to counter the casual attitude that students displayed towards placements, pre-placement talks and companies. The problem lay with the personal leniency levels of individual DPCs, which differed across the board, causing discontent. No student accrued 15 penalty points and hence no company was sent a penalty certificate. This can be perceived as the students taking the policy seriously.
Students also earned reward points for attending preparatory activities held by the DPCs. On gathering enough reward points, students would be able to sign extra JAFs depending on the company in which he got placed. This incentive though, did not hold for students placed in C1 and C2 companies, making the reward irrelevant for them. Students perceive that not enough companies of higher categories have come in Phase II for students who have secured jobs in C3 and below, to be able to avail of this incentive.
There have been instances where DPCs held informal preparatory sessions and doled out points for attending them, completely at their own discretion. There was no central monitoring or control for the same, which created an issue with respect to transparency.
Students though, were severely irked by the fact that the punishment for the penalty points and rewards for the preparatory activities was released retrospectively. Both these decisions were perceived as being highly unprofessional from the side of the IPT.
Registrations: Students can register for placements just once. If a student with an active backlog in his last semester finds out that the course he needs to clear to satisfy his graduation requirements was not being offered in the final semester, then he faces an extension. He would have absolutely no chance of sitting for placements again unless the IPT deals with it on a case by case basis. The IPT responded to this by saying that a student sitting for placements who is free of academic constraints by January is at an advantage over other students; hence extension students are debarred from the Placement process.
Off-Campus Policy: The date till which no off-campus applications are permitted has been extended to 30th June, 2011 (earlier it was 30th April). This was done because the IPT believes that while they are contacting companies, people should not be able to apply off-campus as this would affect the company’s decision to come in for placements. The IPT is going to contact various C3–C5 companies after April end as well.
Unfortunately by June 30th most new recruits already start working and companies are done with their recruitment cycles; the probability of off-campus applications being accepted so late is very low. For someone who has failed to secure a job till so late, the extension seems unwarranted and extremely harsh. The policy is applicable to students who de-register from placements as well. The IPT says that students are allowed to apply off-campus to companies which haven’t come for placements if they take permission from the IPT. Also DDs stay in campus till June 30th and hence a uniform date was sought till which off-campus applications are debarred.
Lookback on the New Team Structure
It has been seen that the division of work between CCs and DPCs generally resulted in more output than last year. More companies were contacted. DPCs of some departments held a lot of preparatory activities, something that might not have been possible last year, as the CCs were overburdened. But some students were of the opinion that CCs were still overloaded and that this resulted in updates on the placement blog being uploaded on very short notice, causing students to miss out on JAF signings, tests and interviews. The IPT responded by saying that late updates have been because of short notice by companies and not because of CCs’ negligence. The IPT also says that in such cases they have personally called people up to inform them of the same.
The DPCs of quite some departments were perceived to be ‘infy lukkha.’ Preparatory activities varied greatly from department to department and were very DPC dependant.
Various points of discussion relating to placements:
- The people making the policy are not answerable to the students because they are as Prof. Ravi Sinha puts it, ‘the employees of the placement cell’. Students perceived some decisions by the IPT as being autocratic and at times severely unreasonable.
For example, the Buddy Policy was very biased against DDs; in that the IPT put an arbitrary clamp on the buddy policy from 10th to 27th November, a time when DDs are quite free (due to no endsems) and when they can take maximum advantage of the buddy policy. In contrast, Btechs had already taken advantage of the same earlier when DDs were busy with their DDP Stage I deadlines.The IPT claims that placement activities, including the Buddy Policy, were stopped during endsems as a result of a directive from the Academic Office.
- Not informing students of which companies are expected to come later in Phase II, or even which companies are going to be contacted, leaves the students with no room for manoeuvre and was tantamount to coercing them into signing present JAFs. Though, the IPT does make a very valid point when they say that the list of companies to be contacted is not released for fear of other IITs getting hold of the same.
Overall, even though there have been some niggling problems and a few serious inadequacies, the overall result of the new structure and policy was quite good. Prof Sinha claims that companies were generally much more pleased this year with the professionalism displayed by the students. It is rumoured that a Day 1 company even sent in a letter of appreciation.
Day 1 Organisational Hassles
A lot of companies demanded to come on Day 1 and threatened that they wouldn’t come otherwise. This caused major hassles for the IPT. They were caught between a rock and a hard place; in their aim to maximise the number of job offers, they tried to accommodate as many companies as they could on Day 1, but this led to students missing out on interviews due to clashes and shoddy scheduling. Several untoward happenings left many students more than just discontented:
- Candidates were pulled out mid-interview by Prof. Ravi Sinha. In some specific cases, in the second round when the candidate did not have any other interview to go to, he refused companies 5 extra minutes with a candidate. This may have been unavoidable in some cases (as interviews invariably tend to overflow their slots and clash with other slots), but from the students’ point of view, if they are not being given adequate time to prove themselves in an interview, then they are being severely handicapped with respect to other candidates. The IPT claims that students were pulled out only after their allotted duration of 20 minutes was up, not before that. They say that if a schedule is not followed there would be a domino effect and other companies would be angered. Students though refute the fact that everyone was given their full allotted time.
- Overall slotting was pretty haphazard. Interviews overlapped and several students missed out on interviews due to delays and poor scheduling. A certain Day 1 Slot 1 company came in with just 3 interviewers because of which it ended up interviewing students till day 2 Slot 1; throwing schedules totally awry. The same company held students to ransom by promising them interviews later, which forced them to ditch other companies’ interviews and in the end, students missed out on both.
- Companies were seen stalling candidates – throwing offers in the 1st round itself and giving under the table offers to selected candidates to gauge if they stick with them, hence putting candidates into sticky spots. The volunteers are supposed to report these – but it becomes difficult because the candidates insist on keeping it a secret for their benefit and it’s hard to detect. This is really unfair to people who are scheduled for 1st round interviews later.
- Slotting of interviews in the second round was done depending on the preference of the student and the order was very clearly shown in the list that was released on the blog, which in a way indicated to the companies quite clearly what the students’ preferences were. This messed up conversations of a lot of students with companies, affecting their chances in the process.
- The preference form was not given till the students asked for it, which was well in the second round of interviews. There were cases where company officials handed out forms and made candidates fill it in front of them. The placement team did not remember to give it to the students.
- The cumulative effect of the slotting woes was that by the time the last few candidates had their first round interviews, some companies already had a list of selected candidates in place and the former had considerably less chances of making it to the next round. Certain companies selected their candidates without having interviewed all the shortlisted tudents. On intervention by the IPT, allegedly dummy interviews’ were held.
- Certain claims were made that some students used polt to get into shortlists of smaller companies by meeting seniors who had come back as interviewers.
The IPT says that they have created additional posts of Associate Coordinators for next year. These will be pre-final year students and they will help solely in scheduling interviews of students and proper handling of the same. They will try to ensure that such problems do not repeat themselves next year.
This article has presented to you both the highs and the lows of this year’s placement season. In terms of pure numbers, it has been a resounding success over the previous year, but certain incidents have resulted in antagonising the students. In hindsight, several issues could have been better handled; there is certainly a scope for improvement. Students would appreciate a more student friendly policy. Let’s hope that the next Placement Team takes these issues into consideration for the upcoming year.
For further details contact Akshay Soni, Archit Kejriwal, Neha Rambhia and Nihal Sarawgi at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com respectively.