Clinching Fortune: Decoding The Placement Season 2019-20
A batch of around a thousand students enters the premises of National Institute of Technology, Rourkela every year, ready to live the dream they worked hard for several years. National Institute of Technology, Rourkela opens multiple doors of opportunities and helps the students to discover and hone their unique skills. The first step towards professional lives, lucrative pay packages, and a rigorous preparation process is why students value the placements a lot during their stay at the institute. The Training and Placement Cell (TnP cell) of NIT Rourkela is the medium through which the students take the first step in the professional world. In this article, Monday Morning unboxes the placement season for the session 2019-2020.
Preparing Students For Hustling Through The Grind
The Training and Placement Cell strives hard for the students so that they get a headstart in their professional life. The trio of Anshuman Bebarta, Anshuman Maharana and Subhransu S. Dalai fulfilled the roles of Placement Secretaries for the session of 2019-2020. Prof. Umesh Chandra Pati was the Head of the Training and Placement cell for the session 2019-20, while Prof. Pankaj Kumar Sa discharged his duties as the Professor In Charge of the Training and Placement cell.
Team Monday Morning caught up with Prof. UC Pati, the Placement Secretaries, members of the Training Committee and various Placement Coordinators of different branches to get their views on the placement season of 2019-20.
Placement Committee 2019-20
Prof. Umesh C. Pati (Head)
Sudha Priyadarshini Placement Coordinator
Prof. Pankaj K. Sa
Biswatma B. Paital
Placement Secretary (Mathematics)
(Electronics & Instrumentation)
N Vivek Kumar
Subhransu S. Dalai
Phanindra Sai Palisetty
Placement Coordinator (Electrical Engineering)
R Sai Kiran
When asked about his views on this placement season, Prof. UC Pati, the Head of the Training and Placement cell, said:
We were expecting new records in offers as well as internships this year. Performance in this placement season was excellent until the pandemic caused an abrupt halt. Despite the lockdown in March, we continued our efforts that resulted in more job offers through virtual platforms. As far as FTEs are concerned, most of the companies began the online onboarding process. Few companies have deferred the job offers on practical grounds, but they have promised that there will be no cancellation of offers. Regarding internships, a majority of the offers have been converted to 'Work from home.’
The Co-Vid 19’ pandemic has hard hit the placement season of NIT Rourkela and all other institutes nationwide. Despite the crisis, a whopping number of 928 offers were made for the AY 2019-2020. A total of 206 companies searched for talent in the college and picked 794 students in total. A more significant achievement is the 100% placement for the departments of Ceramic Engineering (B.Tech), Food Process Engineering (B.Tech), Electronics & Communication (B.tech), Computer Science (dual degree) and Life Science (MSc). This positive outcome can be attributed to a significant surge in the number of new companies that visited the campus this year. Despite the unforeseen circumstances due to Covid-19 that has triggered an economic slowdown, a total of 89 new companies were converted this year. An increase of 31% was accomplished in the overall average CTC (8.75LPA) as compared to that of last year (7.39 LPA).
Ceramic, Food Processing, Electronics & Communication
BioMedical, Food Processing, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Physics, Computer Science, Electrical, Mechanical, Metallurgy
BioMedical, Computer Science, Electronics & Instrumentation, Electrical, Industrial Design, Mining, Metallurgy
Bio-Technology, Chemical, Mechanical
Computer Science, Mathematics, MBA
Udit Mehrotra, the placement coordinator for Department of Food Processing, remarked:
We had a considerably successful placement season this year with a 100% placement record for B.tech. Compared to last year's placement scenario, we had a remarkable rise in the average CTC (Cost to company). Most of the students were placed in good analytics companies. In terms of core, we hosted two new companies, Sids Farm and Tasty Bite.
Debasis Mishra, the placement coordinator for the Department of Mechanical Engineering, said:
Although the commencement of the 2019-20 season began with a recession in the automobile industry yet the giants like Bajaj Auto, Hero Motocorp, Caterpillar, TATA, Maruti Suzuki turned up and recruited students in good numbers. Heavy Industries, like HINDALCO, Linde, Kohler, Saint Gobain, PCBL, Nuvoco Vistas, and public sector organisations like ISRO, GAIL, HPCL, and IOCL turned up. Almost all the Analytics, Consulting, FMCG, I.T. Services, Education sector companies that visited the campus, allowed Mechanical Engineering students.
Most companies have now changed their strategy to talent acquisition via internships. As a result, many companies were converted by internships. The number of internships that were offered surged by 28% to 169. American Express & DE Shaw offered a stipend of more than 1Lac per month (PM), and Sprinklr offered more than 2 Lacs PM. The number of summer internships was 148, out of which 104 offers were converted to work from home.
Sprinklr (2 LPM),
There were 12 courses in total with an average CTC (the cost to company) of higher than 6LPA. The Computer Science department topped the table with 174 offers and the highest Average CTC of 13.78LPA.
Companies like Dailyhunt and Udaan also offered phenomenal packages of 34.22LPA and 30 LPA, respectively. The Number of FTE offers with CTC higher than or equal to 10 LPA is 221 this year, showing an improvement of 33% over last year's (166). The number of offers with CTC greater than or equal to 12 LPA is 152, showing an increment of 23% from last year's.
This year, the college successfully established relationships with ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), Hindustan Unilever, Ola Cabs, American Express, and Google India. For the very time, the elite ISRO recruited a student from NIT Rourkela as a scientist.
Software/I.T. sector topped the sector division followed by circuital, and Analytics. Sectors like BFSI, FMCG, and Education observed a hike in sectoral distribution. Software and I.T. services lead the way with 32.6% on-campus jobs offers. Many major education institutions came to the campus to recruit our students. Education sector offered 17.3% of jobs on-campus. The Electrical/Electronics sector offered 9.2% of jobs this year. Engineering, FMCG, Research and Oil and Gas together logged on 14.1% placements this year. This sector includes heavy industries, Oil companies, glass, mining, engineering consultancy and power companies. Manufacturing, Automobile and Construction offers were at 14.1% this year which shows an improvement over last year. Analytics and Consulting and the BFSI sector together recorded a total of 9.3% on-campus job offers. NGOs and Design offers together accounted for a total of 3.2% placements.
Engineering sector: heavy industries, glass, mining industry, consultancy, power companies, construction companies, FMCG , manufacturing and research.
MBA & Dual Degree Placements
The statistics of the placement season for the MBA department painted a bright picture this year. The number of offers increased from 14 to 19 with new companies like Amul, Tech Mahindra, Airtel and others coming for recruitment.
Sai Kiran, the Placement Coordinator for the MBA department, spoke about how the recruitment could be improved further:
Convincing the HRs for recruiting from our college is a daunting task as most of the HRs were unaware that NIT Rourkela offers an MBA programme. Visibility needs to be increased. More and more MBA specific companies that will predominantly hire MBA graduates should be converted.
As for how the Dual degree placements fared compared to B.Tech placements, the stats showed that they were at par, if not higher. Prof. UC Pati expressed his opinion about this:
MBA placement has been descent this year where more than 80% of students are placed. We hope to repeat similar or better performance in the coming year as well. P.G. courses are specialized courses, and many companies are not looking for specialists. Hence, the placement performance is not very satisfactory in comparison to U.G. students. Due to the Make in India programme, many Start-up companies have come up in recent times which need specialists. In addition to regular companies, we shall approach these Start-up companies to improve the P.G. placements.
CoVid-19 Pandemic: A Stumbling Block
A significant factor that has adversely affected the placement season this year is the Covid-19 pandemic. With the onset of the placement season, a recession began to hit the market, especially in the automobile sector and heavy manufacturing industries. Consequently, many companies that had previously visited didn't convert this year because of the loss they have incurred. Covid-19 has had a turbulent impact on the nation's economy due to which many companies have put their recruitment plans on hold. In worse cases, it has led to the revocation of some of the job offers. To solve this issue, the Training and Placement is still negotiating with those companies trying to persuade them for a delayed onboarding.
Anshuman Bebarta commenting on this issue said:
The cancellation of offers is not at all acceptable. We are in talks with other NITs to take action against these companies if they do not honor the offers they'd made. We are also allowing the students whose offers in hand are in doubt, to sit for new companies coming. We are calling new companies specifically for these students.
Sudha Priyadarshini, the Placement Coordinator for Ceramic Engineering department, said:
Due to the pandemic situation, a few companies were unable to complete their process, and one offer was even revoked. In such cases, the recruiters lastly seek students with comparatively better in-depth knowledge in core companies than what our students were prepared for.
The placement season that used to extend till mid-June was almost over by mid-March this year due to the imposition of travel restrictions and lockdown that made it impossible for the companies to conduct placement sessions. Rahul Mohanty, the Placement Coordinator for the Chemical Engineering department, said:
The Covid-19 situation has been a big challenge. Many chemical core companies generally visit in March and April. Even this year, some were scheduled to visit but canceled their placement drive because of this pandemic.
Challenges On The Way And Steering Clear Of These
A very well known problem with NIT Rourkela is its accessibility. Many significant companies refrain from coming to NIT Rourkela due to its location. The nearest Jharsuguda airport connects to a very few cities with only just one carrier, Spicejet. Despite this significant issue, the Training and Placement committee works tediously to convert new companies every year for recruitment. Apart from the accessibility issue and Covid-19 pandemic, there have been some other snags that affected the placement season, like frequent power cuts during the presentation process and issues related to accommodation. Several complaints were made by the company HRs regarding the cleanliness of rooms, a limited quantity of food items on the menu, and poor maintenance of the guesthouse, which led to their frustration. Some companies demanded more than 200 students for themselves; some wanted to complete all the processes in a single day.
Rigidity in academics is another issue that needs to be addressed. Many circuital and I.T. sector companies demand six months or 1-year internship experience from students these days. Since it was a mandatory stipulation, many companies couldn't be converted this year. Despite having an improvement over last year, Mtech Placements were still unsatisfactory and were very less as compared to the BTech Placements this year. This shows why 6-month internship programs are necessary for bringing companies to the table. A Senate proposal was made regarding this matter. The final draft passed by the senate stated that 6-month internships would be taken up by the final year MTech students only after seeking approval from guides. The final say was left to the mercy of guides who are quite apprehensive towards allowing the students to pursue such long internships.
Prof. UC Pati conveyed his thoughts on this issue:
For final year B.Tech. students, the concept of doing internships in the companies for six months has come up recently. This matter is under active consideration by a committee constituted under the chairmanship of Dean (AC). For M. Tech students, project work is of one-year duration out of two years, and hence, it is important. If a student goes to a company for an internship during project work, consent of both the guide and supervisor in the respective industry is essential for the execution of a common research problem.
Shashank Das, the Placement Coordinator for the Computer Science department, said:
Due to lack of flexible course structures, students missed out on opportunities for six months/ one-year-long internships and FTE opportunities with specific intern rollover policy. For the C.S. department, MTech students aren't allowed to do any such internships since these require guide approvals, and no faculty would be willing to allow students to pursue such internships. This has led to a miss out on companies like Intel and MediaTek. I also feel that our campus lacks the coding culture that other institutes have. Faculties should be keen on inculcating that amongst the students. Hackathons, if conducted on a timely basis, would be of great help for the students as various companies recruit the students through hackathons.
Speaking in context to the scenarios of Science departments, the idea of placements is something that appears inferior to the professors of the departments. The Placement secretaries spoke about the perception regarding placements-
The professors frown upon the idea of placement for science sections and they want the students to go for higher studies. We want this perspective to change.
It is the need of the hour that the senate should pass an implementation, leaving the final choice of long internships to the students.
There has also been a lack of exposure, and enhancement in the institute-industry interaction is needed. Udit Mehrotra, the Placement Coordinator for Food Processing department, told:
Department-Industry relationship is an essential thing that we currently lack. Sincere efforts have to be made to connect with companies. The major challenge we face as a newer branch is the exposure. Most colleges that offer courses related to food technology are located in South India, and companies generally prefer to hire along those belts. Additionally, reaching Rourkela in itself is challenging, so it's tough to convince them to visit our campus.
Shashank Das, the Placement Coordinator for the Computer Science department, said:
If the Institute-Industry Interaction is improved in a way that enables our department to get funded projects from various industry leaders, then students could be greatly benefitted from it since they would get to work on challenging real-time projects.
Drawbacks of the season were due to mismanagement in the scheduling of some companies. Had some companies like Amazon, DE Shaw, Sprinklr been scheduled earlier, offers would have been bagged seamlessly. Relatively, profiles for Industrial Design and Research garnered very few job offers. So, it is hoped that these challenges would be addressed and steps would be taken to solve the related problems in future placement seasons.
Training Committee: A Maiden Initiative
The newly formed Training Committee is also assisting the Training and Placement Cell ably so that students achieve the placements with flying colours. Previously the training of the students was done by a separate committee formed in the even semester called the Soft Skill Development Committee. But this year, a separate committee was introduced known as the Training Committee. It was led by Soumya Sambit Rath, Rohit Dash, and Deepak Kumar to groom the students for the gruesome placement season.
Prof. UC Pati, the Head of the Training and Placement cell, said:
Formation of the Training Committee is a new idea implemented from this year. The job of the Training and Placement cell is mainly twofold: Training and Placement. Over the years, the Placement committee was looking after both the domains. It was felt that emphasis was more upon placements, and as a result, the training part was taking a backseat. Hence, the new Training committee came into picture exclusively for training the students. The committee has done a good job this year. They have created an internal NITR-restricted blog that has posts consisting of preparation strategy and other details from final year students who wrote various higher education exams. They have also made a placement blog where the final year students have shared their experiences about the placement process.
During the lockdown, the Training Committee conducted an online workshop to build a resume (C.V.), and recently had a session focused on C.V. building and the common mistakes that recruiters don't like to see. When asked about the all-round performance of the Training Committee this placement season, Rohit Dash answers:
The all-round performance was decent. We conducted three soft skill development sessions, one alumni workshop on MBA preparation by our alumnus Mr Soham Ghosh and one workshop on the art of writing reply-worthy mails for students interested in pursuing higher education.
Despite having a successful placement season, there were some serious shortcomings due to which the Training Committee, which was started this year, could not live up to its full potential. Glitches were in terms of conducting very few sessions while the participation of students was not satisfactory. Some students felt apprehensive about the segregation into three categories based on one minute extempore only. Segregating students into three categories based on only 1 minute extempore showed a lack of proper structure.
It's staggering to see that no technical knowledge was imparted. Additionally, practical tests and coding tests were also not conducted. It's high time to initiate steps to enhance the coding culture in our institute.
Where Do Students Go Wrong?
Despite an excellent placement season, there is a lot of room for improvement on various fronts. The lack of preparation from students, specifically for the HR rounds, has been a concern. When a candidate enters the HR round without doing adequate research about the company, it hampers his/her chances of being recruited. According to Subhransu S. Dalai, Placement Secretary (2019-2020):
Knowing the company well matters as much as technical knowledge does. The recruiters are more satisfied when they hear about their company from students.
The lack of knowledge among students about various job profiles and their lack of clarity regarding which job profile they want to enter also came to the forefront. According to Rahul Mohanty, Placement Coordinator of Chemical Engineering department:
If the students can pre-decide and be sure about the sector of their choice, well before the placement season begins, then they can surely perform better than their counterparts. Students should not just blindly apply for any company that comes for the placement drive.
Many companies have expressed their grievances when it comes to the students' soft skills and communication skills. Bhaskar Sen, the Placement Coordinator for Metallurgy department, said:
For the students who fail to clear Group Discussion and Interview rounds, soft skills development is a prerequisite.
According to Debasis Mishra, Placement Coordinator for the Mechanical Engineering department:
Students should prepare well and learn to adapt to varying circumstances. They should practice well for online tests and should undergo Mock Interviews. They should work on their spoken English skills and enhance their analytical thinking.
Prof. UC Pati had the following advice for pre-final year students:
The students must be well versed with the fundamentals of their branch and be updated with the latest developments in that domain. Many recruiters have expressed their reservations on this front, and it's not pleasant to hear. One should highlight different acquired skills, extracurricular activities, internships, etc. to broaden the job prospect. One more domain the recruiters have expressed their concern is about the poor communication skills of the candidates. Because of the pandemic, the hiring process for AY 2020-2021 is expected to be mostly through online platforms. All students should learn the etiquette to present themselves properly on this platform. If you don't get selected in your preferred company, don't consider it the end of the road, rather consider it as the stepping stone. In case of a reversal, consider that the phase will not stay for a long time.
All the placement secretaries had a similar opinion that keeping the COVID-19 crisis in mind; this placement season has been a success— one which could be looked back upon without any regrets.
According to Anshuman Bebarta,
There was a point where we used to wonder how things would pan out as few companies had cancelled, but till the end of August, we had about 200 recruits from 35 companies. We were ahead of the previous placement seasons. For our batch, we are pretty much satisfied with the results despite what turns it took during the last two months. We celebrated every milestone. Although 1000 was the ultimate milestone, 900 is also commendable due to the pandemic.
As a final piece of advice for the students of NIT Rourkela, Prof. UC Pati stated:
The students of NIT Rourkela have joined the institute after clearing very competitive examinations. There is no doubt about their ability to bring changes in society through the application of technology. Information wise, the present generation of students are very rich. Ocean of information is available with just a click of the mouse. They need to channelize this information in the right direction. Proper use of these four years will profoundly shape their rest of life. Take time to find the thing that excites you more than anything else in the world and pursue it with the right spirit. Let me sign off with few words: Be open, be patient and be hopeful.
In the face of the unprecedented situations that the Training and Placement cell was presented with in the form of a pandemic during the peak of the placement season, the achievements and statistics obtained seem quite remarkable. Despite this achievement, there were some significant issues which served as an impediment to greater success. These need to be addressed and overcome.
Team MM congratulates the Training and Placement cell for achieving what they did and wishes them the best for exceeding the benchmark that they've set this year in the coming years.