Placement Plans in the Pipeline
The Training and Placement Cell is one of the most important bodies in any Institute of higher learning. Recently the T&P Cell of NIT Rourkela saw a change of hands with regard to the person at helm. Prof. Biswal of the Department of Industrial Design had been in charge of the T&P Cell for an extensive period and has only recently handed over charge to Prof. S K Jena of the Department of Computer Science & Engineering. Team MM caught up with the professor to find out what plans he has for the institute placement scenario.
MM: The Training & Placement Cell is one of the most important bodies of an institute like NIT Rourkela. What role shall you play as the Head of T&P?
SK: Well, this is not a new field to me. I was the previous Head of T&P from 2002 to 2004. Then Prof. Biswal took over until recently. So I have experience heading the T&P, albeit in a different setting. Back then there were only around 300 students per batch including both undergraduate & graduate courses. Since then the institute has grown many folds and several companies have started to visit the campus. However, I am only in charge of the T&P cell for an interim period until someone permanent is appointed to this position.
MM: In the last five years, has the placement standard risen or fallen in comparison to the other NITs?
SK: I would say that the placement standard has risen substantially. NIT Rourkela has a very good infrastructure, educational standard and high achieving students. However, compared to the other NITs, our institute’s location leaves much to be desired. It is this lack of accessibility that hinders our placement standard.
MM: Placements this year haven’t been great in the core engineering sectors. What could have been the reason behind this?
SK: Core companies don’t recruit large number of students unlike IT firms. The number of core industries is lesser and they recruit hardly 10-20 graduates every year. Moreover, core companies look for graduates from core branches like Mechanical, Chemical, Civil and a few more while the software companies hire from almost all branches. This further boosts the placement graph in the software domain.
MM: How was the placement in the previous academic year? Was it satisfactory or is there still scope for improvement?
SK: I have joined only recently but in this short period, as far as I have been able to gauge, placement statistics for the previous session were quite good. The placement season continued till the end of June and there were plenty of offers with significantly high packages. Around 160 companies visited the campus to conduct placements last year. This year the calendar of August is already jam-packed for this session with more than forty companies having finalized their slots. We are bargaining with the companies towards recruiting students for internships as well as for allowing students from departments other than the electrical and computer sciences to sit for the campus placements.
MM: What has brought into effect the 6 T&P leaves policy for final year students?
SK: The reason for this change in policy is twofold. One reason is that the students having friends in T&P were using them to sanction leaves even when they did not appear for company interviews. The other reason is that due to almost 40% of the classes being sanctioned T&P leave, the fourth year classrooms are nearly empty, which is a heavy blow to the academic policy of the institute. Our aim is to ensure that students attend classes in the final year as diligently as in the earlier years. However, the attendance software still has certain glitches that are still being figured out.
“I would request students not to be scared of this policy and miss company opportunities but to be smart enough to gauge which companies actually fit their profile and accordingly apply.”
MM: How is your experience of working with the present team of student coordinators who form the T&P cell?
SK: What the T&P volunteers are doing is nothing short of social service. I have been on board with them for 15 days now and so far they have done an excellent job of communicating with the companies. However, it does indeed affect their work schedules as they have to balance both academics and T&P duties. To help ease their workload, I encourage the pre-final year students from both B.Tech and M.Tech dual degree to volunteer for T&P duties. The Internship Representatives were inducted under this scheme. This has the dual effect of easing the workload of final year students as well as helping them get some exposure to the companies, which will aid them to prepare for their own interviews.
MM: What exactly is the internship policy for the dual degree students?
SK: There is no explicit concept of internships for dual degree and regular M. Tech students. The M. Tech and Dual Degree students work on research projects during the summer. Since most internships are industry oriented, M. Tech students are usually not permitted in these internships.
“In the HOD meeting this July, it was decided that M. Tech students (Regular & Dual Degree) will henceforth be permitted only to undertake research internships, the guidelines and policy for which shall soon be made available.”
For the M. Tech project the guide has to contact the industry to avail of an internship for his/her student. However, the M. Tech students are generally allotted their guides at the end of September. So, a procedure needs to be drawn up so that this logistical constraint can be overcome. We are in the process of finalizing the policy and it is awaiting the final approval of the Director.
MM: Are there any plans to improve the internship scenario and create awareness about internships amongst the pre final year students?
SK: The internship scenario has changed a lot; most of the NITs, IIITs, IITs and IISc. are now offering internships. Foreign universities too are accepting Indian students for research internships. Students here are slowly gaining knowledge about various internship programmes viz. DAAD, Mitacs Globalink, Charpak and the Erasmus Mundus. In this regard, the T&P cell can only go as far as notifying the students about the impending opportunities. The next step needs to be taken by the students themselves – finding out the procedure of application, contacting the university professors, preparing CVs and so forth. Industrial internships at big companies are not very useful because these companies hardly provide any guidance to the interns, research internships are a far better option in providing the interns with a good learning experience. Research internships, along with extra-curricular activities are also very useful when going for higher studies. The US Consulate Office at Hyderabad wishes to visit our institute to familiarize students with the scope of higher studies and research in the USA. It has been decided that pre-final year students will be asked to attend the session.