Provision for Six Months Internships: How Long Do We Wait?

Provision for Six Months Internships: How Long Do We Wait?

On-Campus Placements and Internships are highly competitive, not only within an institute but also amongst various institutes. The ability to adapt to changing trends in the recruitment process is key to upholding the status of a premier institute. One such significant trend in today’s world is the rise of the demand for Six Month Internships. Most of the recruiters prefer experienced candidates and six months of internship provides this. Hence, it trains fresh talents and gives them the required work experience better than the summer internships due to the long duration of exposure. Multiple Institutes in our country have adapted to this trend but unfortunately, our Institute seems to be infinitely slow in implementing this urgent policy.

For starters, many reputed companies offer PPOs (Pre-placement offers) to students who undergo six months internships in their organization. These long-term internships demonstrate one's responsibility, pointed toward giving an important inside and out experience. Several institutes including BITS Pilani, NIT Surathkal, NIT Warangal, NIT Jamshedpur, MANIT Bhopal, NIT Patna, NIT Calicut, NIT Jamshedpur, NIT Silchar, NIT Durgapur, NIT Srinagar, NIT Raipur,  BIT Mesra, IIT Ropar, IIIT Delhi, IIIT Bangalore, NIT Allahabad and many more have already put in place provisions in effect to facilitate six-month internships. But where do we stand in this regard? Read on to know the current status and the way forward:

Senate’s Past Decision

As quoted in our article on 14 September last year, Link:  A BILL TO ENLIST: PROVISION OF SIX MONTHS INTERNSHIP our Institute had passed a provision for allowing six Month Internships for MTech and Dual Degree students last year:

NIT Rourkela recently passed the provision for 6- months internship for the M.Tech students. The resolution previously in effect demanded the discretion of the guides for pursuing such internships but with the new ruling, the scenario is expected to change.

Allowed only for the M.Tech and dual-degree students, the program requires the students to publish the M.Tech thesis based on the project done under the guide. In the final year autumn semester, they work full time under the guidance on the project. In the spring semester, they have to do both, the project under the guide, and the internship. If at the end of the spring semester the guide feels the project thesis submitted is not up to the mark then they might extend the project.

But there is a catch! It was a “ONE-TIME” measure and there was no permanent policy enacted. And as of now, we are again back to ground zero when we have no provision for 6 Month Internships even for MTech and Dual Degree students.

The Importance of 6 Month Internships

The number of offers for the MTech students is in a pretty urgent state. In the year 2020-21, 329 out of the 495 eligible MTech students were unplaced. And If the CS department is excluded, only 26% of MTech students were placed. This was even after the administration had the provision for 6 Months Internships approved towards the end of the first semester. If the provision is not brought fast, these numbers will dwindle further since many companies are inclining towards six-month internships.

We are already losing out on the quality of offers. If we do not have a provision for 6 Months Internship this year, we might lose major recruiters like Qualcomm, which recruited 18 students in 2020-21 and 30 students in 2019-20, and AWS, which provided the highest paying offer last placement season for the MTech students. JP Morgan Chase & Co, Amazon, Flipkart, Dr Reddy’s Lab, Nutanix, Cred, Medtronics, Nvidia, ZS Associates, AMD, National Instruments, and many more have moved to hire exclusively through 6 Months Internship route.

Where Do We Stand Now?

As the one-time measure for MTech and Dual degree students stands void now, this provision was up for discussion in a recent Heads and Deans meetings, after which a committee was formed headed by Dean Academics and comprising of HoD Electrical Department, HoD Electronics Department, HoD Computer Science Department and Head of Training and Placement Center. Whatever the committee decides will be put for discussion again in the upcoming senate and no one knows when the policy will see the light of the day.

Team Monday Morning contacted a few members of this committee to get an insight into their views on this issue:

Prof. Dipti Patra (Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering): 

Last year, most companies like Qualcomm and many others offered remote internships only. After the supervisor approved, some M.Tech students were selected for a 6-month internship at Qualcomm in our department. For the execution of this 6-month internship program supervisor’s approval is needed because he is the one who plans how the student will complete the M.Tech thesis work as the work of that semester cannot be done due to the involvement of the student in the internship. As a result, they’ll have to compensate by working more in the 9th semester for dual degree students and the 3rd semester for M.Tech students. Accordingly, we discussed with the supervisor in our department, and students were given a little lighter work during internship time. Usually, by March, we complete all experimental and simulation work. In April, we typically write the thesis, and whatever general communication is required, and by May, students have to submit the thesis. This process is mainly the student and supervisor relationship, how they plan the work, and students have to agree on the hard work during the whole process. Otherwise, it would be challenging since our curriculum has credits in the last semester, making it difficult for students.

Responding to the importance of such a student-friendly provision, Prof. Dipti Patra added:

Definitely, this program will be very encouraging for the students because they will get better placement opportunities because these long-term internships are an indication of one's commitment, aimed at providing a valuable in-depth experience. Through exemplary performance in such long internships, students quickly get PPO (Pre-placement offers) from the companies. A student’s experience is also increasing, the placement scenario will improve, and they will get better opportunities. Since we are moving towards a new education policy in which more flexibility must be included, we should not be rigid.

Talking about the road ahead, she said:

Most of the HODs agree that this six-month internship program should be continued but the success depends on the supervisor-student coordination. The supervisor needs to be flexible and understand that their agreement is essential as a student is ultimately working under the supervision of some faculty.

Prof. Santanu Kumar Behera (Head of Department Electronics and Communication Engineering): 

The previous year was different as it was a one-time measure with the supervisor's consent. There were mixed reactions, but it is needed for the Electrical, ECE, and CSE Department. After discussions with senior faculty members of these three departments and the Director and Senators, we decided that as a one-time measure. This year the same thing happened, i.e. demand for a 6-month internship.

In the Electronics Departments, we have three categories of students during the allotment of projects-

Category 1: The student is not allowed to appear/join the internship/collaboration research programme. The student has to continue the project work under the allotted supervisor at NIT Rourkela.

Category 2: In this category of projects, the student is allowed to appear in the one-year internship programme with permission from the supervisor. If the student is selected by the company, a research topic will be decided jointly by the supervisor and the company in a collaborative manner. The student has to submit the MTech final thesis based on this work.

Category 3: In this category of projects, the student is allowed to appear in the six-month internship programme with permission from the supervisor. If the student is selected, s/he will work in the company for the last six months on a topic independent of his allotted research work by the supervisor. The student will remain in contact with his supervisor and continue his/her research work in extra time.

While speaking about the different categories, Prof. Santanu Kumar Behera added:

The option of collaborative projects is excellent, while the 6-month industry-based internship can be modified as well. The former is good because here, the mentor and the guide are convergent to the program. This option is suitable even for the student as the thesis will have inputs from both. The latter option will be good if the students can complete the thesis on the weekends or manage extra time. Balancing can make this work, i.e. working on the internships during the weekdays and the rest of the days in the week for the project work.

Speaking about his concerns about the provision, he added:

We are concerned about the 6-month program as M.Tech students going outside for an internship will be working in the company and be absorbed in it. Here they might forget about the original project work; however, ultimately, they'll have to submit the thesis. In such cases, the quality of the thesis is not up to the mark as they won't get enough time for the project or they couldn't discuss it properly with the supervisor, which any good project requires. Our concern is that the thesis might get degraded due to these factors, and the institute would suffer.

Adding on, Prof. Santanu Kumar Behera said:

The internships with educational institutes are good, as students will be working with a professor, and it would be beneficial for them and the project. We don't have any objection to this as students will have a good guide. But industries are far more focused on their work; for the industry’s work, it is okay, but the same thing must be a part of the project work as well. Students can’t balance both academics and the internship but only focus on the internship when joining it.

While all these concerns are there, all of us need to think about one question very seriously: If 329 out of 495 MTech students end up staying unplaced, are we able to fulfill the dreams that those students came to our Institute with? While the thesis has its own value, to what extent should we block our students progress based on the non-statistical assumption that the thesis quality of such students will worsen? It’s high time we prioritize students’ interests by coming out of the old mindset (bubble) and adapting to these new developments around us. 

BTech! Where Is The Fast Pace Program?

On 24th September 2020, the Institute Senate passed the momentous fast pace program which promised to give an opportunity for BTech and Integrated MSc students as well to go for six Month Internships in their final semester. As mentioned in the circular (image below), this would be effective starting from the students who were in their 5th Semester in 2020-21, i.e Batch of 2022. But what happened then was far from this. While the batch of 2022 has no provision for going for any six Month Internships, it seems unlikely that even the batch of 2023 will be able to avail this opportunity. And if there is no appropriate follow up on this decision before semester registrations start, it might even be doubtful for the batch of 2024!! 

Image: 

Nevertheless, If the B.Tech students wish to take up a six-month internship, fast pace program is one way out. The students interested can take up and complete the theory courses of the final semester beforehand, with the help of either SWAYAM courses or if the timetable permits, taking additional courses in the institute. On top of this, it was expected from the departments that they will readjust the courses such that there are no laboratory courses in the final semester.

Speaking about the status of this for BTech students, Prof. Dipti Patra, HOD Electrical Engineering, said:

I think in the new education policy, Fast Track Courses can be included. It would take 2-3 years to implement this as the whole curriculum structure has to be changed. Here, in MTech and Dual Degree curriculum, the structure need not be changed. Last semester is only dedicated to the thesis work, but in BTech, we have coursework and lab work that is entirely different. So, to change the whole structure of our curriculum, it needs a big committee. A lot of experts are always involved in the change of curriculum. So, it will take 2 to 3 years, but the process has been started, but it cannot be implemented very quickly. We are planning our best to make this implementation faster. Let’s hope for the best!

A similar response was given by Prof. Umesh C Pati, Head of Training and Placement Center when asked about the fast pace program:

For final year B.Tech. students, the concept of doing internships in companies for the last 6 months has come up recently. This matter (Fast pace program) has been considered by a committee constituted under the chairmanship of former Dean (AC). Now it is upto the respective departments. The students should contact their respective HODs to take suitable courses.

The Way Ahead

Team MM reached out to the Hon’ble Registrar of our Institute to gain further insights on the way forward for Six Month Internships. Hon’ble Registrar, Prof. Pradip Kumar Das had the following to say about the provision for B.Tech students:

B.Tech students can take up some of the courses on Swayam like the core electives or open electives of the last semester so that they are relatively free and hence opt for a six-month internship, but there are few roadblocks before that.

Elaborating about the intricacies of SWAYAM courses, Prof. PK Das added:

All the courses can’t be taken, which is why the consultation of HODs and FacAds should be taken. The courses should be of minimum 40 hrs and further deliberations can happen to find courses that are equivalent to what is being taught in the institute. To ensure that this happens in proper structure rather than on a case-to-case basis, the dean’s office should head the regulation and direct all departments to display these courses on the site during preregistration itself. It might not be possible for some branches like ceramics and mining, but other departments’ implementation should be swift since other institutes are also adopting these changes. We can also add regulations like allowing students above a certain grade point average.

With respect to the provision for M.Tech students, Prof. PK Das said:

M.Tech students need to write a thesis in their final year, which spans out two semesters under the guidance of a professor. The professor or supervisor should make sure that the work at the institute and internship are along the same lines. Otherwise, it won't be possible for the students to complete or cope with both simultaneously. This is where we expect students and professors to find an amicable solution. This has been discussed in the past two senate meetings in detail in favour of the students. We can also include several provisions to make it easier for the students. Students should press these issues so that the senate directs the departments to work on these processes at the earliest opportunity. Top to bottom policy can work here because bottom the top procedure will be too slow. Students can talk with the director so that he can bring up these issues with Deans and HODs.

The students have waited enough! If other institutes have been able to swiftly adapt to the trend and not only make a provision but also implement it within months. Why are waiting for years to pass by before waking up? It’s high time we make systematic changes and not ONE-TIME measures. Team MM hopes the NIT Rourkela administration catalyses the process to provide a long-term stable solution for this situation.

Designs by – Saksham Devkota

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