Friday, December 13, 2013

New IITs face a rough placement ride this year

Placements at the new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are headed for a bumpy ride. Behind the excitement of the big companies and bigger offers on campus lurk serious concerns: companies staying away, students in certain streams facing a struggle to get placed and the challenge of placing bigger batches at a time when recruiters are hiring in lower numbers.

Most of these IITs are apprehensive about how placements will pan out given that a number of recruiters - particularly among public sector undertakings (PSUs) - are staying away. IOC, BPCL, HPCL, ONGC, Power Grid Corporation of India are among those that have hired in good numbers in the past, but have not sent out feelers this time round. New IITs are hoping they will reach out in January, but some placement sources admit it may not happen.

In February 2012, an interim order passed by the Madras High Court had restrained PSUs from recruiting in leading colleges including the IITs. The stay was later vacated by the court in September 2012 but the final order is pending. In such a situation, according to an IIT placement official, PSUs can come to campuses under the condition that the decision on whoever is hired will be subject to the High Court's final directive. A negative decision thus, could leave students hired but jobless.

"We haven't invited any PSUs and they haven't contacted us either. As of now, none of them are coming," says IIT-Ropar's Training and Placement Officer Prabh Sharan Singh. Last year, PSUs had hired 24 to 25 students of IIT Ropar's 106 students. It's a similar situation at IIT Jodhpur and IIT Mandi as well. "IOC, BPCL and HPCL, which came last year, are not coming this year," says Arti Kashyap, Faculty Advisor at IIT-Mandi. If PSUs in most cases are a no-show, some of the big names which came last year have either not come to certain campuses this time or in certain cases, are not recruiting.

At IIT-Hyderabad, Works Applications, which hired students for Rs. 3.5 million for international placements last year, did not recruit any this time round. At IIT-Ropar, Microsoft which offered four pre-placement offers last year has offered only one, and not made it to the final on-campus placements. Google too could not come to IIT-Ropar because of date issues. "Companies like Microsoft, HPCL and Flipkart, which came last year will not come this year, stating changes in hiring policy," says Gaurav Harit, Acting Placement Chairperson, IIT-Jodhpur.

In 2013, the institute placed only 73% of its B.Tech. and 60% of its M.Tech. batch. This year, 38 students have been recruited so far from among the 90 sitting for placements.The highest offer so far has been Rs. 1.3 million from Morgan Stanley compared with Microsoft's Rs 1.6 million last year.

"Conditions are moderate and we expect placements to be similar to 2013 but not surpassing it," says an IIT-Hyderabad placement team member. Last year, 40 companies came to hire 150 students. This year, while the number of students has risen to 200, the number of companies are expected to remain the same. With bigger batches to place this time, the new IITs are reaching out to a larger number of companies so that placements are not hit. But hurdles remain. At IIT-Jodhpur, authorities are worried because the manufacturing sector has been hit by the downturn.

Even IIT-Mandi --- among the few new IITs to achieve 100% placements last year --- which got a headstart this year by opening a placement window in October, is concerned. "Companies which hire mechanical and electrical engineering students are likely to be cutting down on numbers because of the downturn," says Prabh Sharan Singh of IIT-Ropar. 

Amidst all this, there is good news. IIT-Rohtak has seen three top offers of $105,000 from US healthcare software company Epic Systems, compared with two last year. The average salary so far is Rs 1.13 million, up 21% from last year's Rs. 917,000, and 18 students have bagged Rs. 1.5 million-plus salaries. At IIT-Mandi, Amazon has hired six students for Rs. 2 million, compared with top offers of around Rs. 1.7-Rs. 1.8 million from Microsoft and Amazon last year.

At IIT-Gandhinagar, average salary has grown by 8% to Rs. 781,000 while IIT-Patna has seen the top salary soaring from Rs. 1.6 million-plus last year to over Rs. 1.8 million. At IIT-Varanasi, Microsoft is making an international offer --- the first this placement season --- likely to be at around Rs. 6 million.

Source: The Economic Times, December 13, 2013

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