Day Zero at campuses giving way to staggered placements through year

The coveted `Slot Zero’ was a rubric in placements.Companies would bid for that space. Students would fight to be in that place. For, the one who was signed up was a winner even before the race began.

As an educated army of millions goes through the recruitment season, campuses beef up their career placement cells, offer seminars on interviewing techniques and resume preparation, on the perfect convincing handshake and on soft power. That placement week where pay cheques of millions were given, though, is being plugged out from more campuses than ever before.

IIM-Tiruchirappalli director Prafulla Agnihotri says the slot placement method saw students sweat and experience nervous breakdowns.

Not long ago, in 2010, Agnihotri, as placement head at IIMCalcutta, was proud to have placed a record 380 students in three and a half days. “Today , at our campus, we have promoted the idea that IIM-Trichy is not a placement agency . We are a learning centre.“

Engineering campuses with large batches have for long followed this line. Placements at IITs run into a few months.“BITS curriculum is such that it allows two semester placement seasons,“ says G Balasubramanian, chief placement officer (India & Dubai), BITS Pilani.

Similarly , Thapar University director Prakash Gopalan says continued industry-academic linkage gives out a message to students that placements are an ongoing affair and a byproduct of graduation. “We have never followed the slot method. We allow students to identify where their passion lies, and for companies to identify future leaders from campus. That takes time.“

K Senthamarai Kannan, placement & training officer, Kumaraguru College of Technology , Coimbatore, says the Day Zero trend is fading because companies were recruiting top students during the beginning of the seventh semester with a higher salary and internship. “At most Tier-I colleges like ours the placement season is throughout the year, which starts anytime between July and May . Core companies plan their campus recruitments only after third quarter results.“

For corporates, scouting for students has never been tougher. Recruitment tours are getting longer, first-stage elimination tests tougher and interviews longer. D Ranganath, dean, placements and training, R V College of Engineering, Bengaluru, says the selection process has become difficult and recruiters have started asking challenging technical questions. “Earlier, the final round of interview used to be for15 to 20 minutes for each student. Now, it runs from 45 minutes to two hours.“ The placement drive in this college will be held for 10 months, that is, from July to May . Others observe similarly . “Earlier, the placement process wasn’t this competitive for either the HR teams or students,“ says Anishya Madan, industrial liaison officer, IIT-Delhi.

For those that followed the slot-wise placement process, recruitment went on till the wee hours and students would be charged up to put their best foot forward. City-based Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies used to stock up on glucose and electral for dehydrated and stressed students. “Campuses felt like auction houses,“ says a former dean of JBIMS.

Experts have panned that frenzied form of recruitment.“This is not a practical approa ch for either students or companies. Stretching placements for months offers more opportunities to test the waters,“ said Janat Shah, director, IIM-Udaipur. The placement season starts in November and lasts till the convocation in April or May .

“Our observation is that the existing system gives students more time to take judicious decisions,“ says Shah. IIM-Ahmedabad was among the first to switch to an extended rolled-out cluster format. An IIM-Ahmedabad report notes that the process was different from the erstwhile `day-based’ method, where students ranked companies through a preference survey that determined the order of invitations for them to visit campuses. “This difference is based on the underlying philosophy that `roles’ and the kind of work a student would end up doing should be an equally important parameter for making career choices as `company brand’ and compensation, if not more.“

NMIMS’ placement head Shobha Pai said ballooning class sizes, too, had a bearing on placements. Students and placement heads are all rooting for the extended style of placements. “One, it helps students and companies weigh their options and make a more informed approach as they get more time to interact with the interviewing panel. And, with the batch size going up, there is a concerted effort to shun the idea of the number of days for which placements took place,“ said an IIT-Bombay faculty .

The economic cycle, too, ma ny say , forced B-schools to follow their engineering peers. When prospects are bleak, the rolledout placement process offers a better chance at being hired.

Not many agree, though.IIM-Bangalore has stuck to the traditional model. Sapna Agarwal, head, career development services, said the time-tested formula allows students choices.“If companies keep coming in during a longer timeframe, at some time, there have to be exits.“ In case of this Bannerghatta Road B-school, back-to-back tests and interviews permit job seekers to take a decision from a rich choice of recruiters.

(With inputs by Pavan MV ,Bangalore; Swati Shinde, Pune; Adarsh Jain, Chennai; Shoeb Khan, Rajasthan; & Shreya Roy Chowdhury, Delhi)

What is Slot Zero

Most premium companies that offer the highest salary packages and attractive profiles are invited before placement officially starts. That’s Slot Zero

Source : The Times of India

Date : 12-04-2016

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