The Placement Mood Survey

Faced with a deluge of surveys in the past month, final year students at IIT Kharagpur were of the opinion that the latest Scholars’ Avenue survey was just that, another meaningless form. On the contrary, it was a first-of-its-kind endeavor to understand the mindset of an average final year student as he heads into what is perhaps the most tortuous time during his stay in the campus – The placement season. Our survey had more than 200 responses from students hailing from a variety of geographical locations and departments. With this data set, we hope to highlight strong correlations of career choices with several parameters such as gender, department, location etc. Read on!

Jab main chhota tha..

IIT KGP prides itself for promoting excellence in a diverse set of activities, be it in the realm of academics, sports or culture. So, we were curious about the impact the stint in KGP would have on our career choices. More than 41% of our respondents were undecided in their first year regarding the career path they wanted to tread on after completing their course. A majority of these undecided students seem to have migrated towards the safety of a job today (58%), and we note that there has been a minor increase of 6% in the number of students opting for further studies as well. The major reason cited for this migration towards jobs is the placement scenario in KGP.

Baccha scenario

Busting stereotypes?

Next, we tried to see if we could spot any trends based on demographics within the diverse KGP population. Particularly, the parameters taken into consideration are gender, geographical location, department and rural-urban classification.

Gender:

The only notable difference in the career option of an average Joe and Jane is that more girls (67%) prefer a job as compared to boys (56%). This 11% difference is explained by boys considering core further studies as a more viable option (~20%) as compared to girls (~13%) and girls not being prima facie interested in off-beat options such as a start-up.

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Geographical Location:

We collected your state of origin as we were eager to see how the regional stereotypes with regards to career choices held up. This is where things start to get interesting.

While jobs are on the mind of the rest of the country, Bengalis seem to have reaffirmed their status as the ‘Maggus’ of the campus. A whopping 43.4% want to go abroad to study further, as compared to the national average of 19%. Also, MBA seems to be more on the mind of students hailing from the western part of the country (Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Gujarat). At 17%, this portion is almost double that of the national average of 9%. Finally, Babudom(UPSC) is preferred more by students from the North(13%) and South(12.9%) as compared to students from the West(6.9%) and East(4%).

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Department:

You would expect your department to have a major say in your career preferences right? Let’s find out. (Note: Only Departments with significant number of responses have been considered)

Dep

Computer Science students, predictably, are running after the moolah. A whopping 85% have jobs listed as their primary option (not surprising, considering their average package is around 16 lpa). In stark contrast to this is ECE, where only ~38% have a job as their primary career option, and a cool 41% list core further studies to be their first choice of a career. Other departments with significantly high number of respondents who have their first preference as jobs are Chemical (71%), Civil (68.75%), Electrical (66%). Another notable observation was that 5 out of 10 students surveyed in Metallurgy believed UPSC to be their calling.

Rural/Urban divide?

Our survey revealed that by and large, there is no significant difference between the aspirations of a person hailing from a rural background as opposed to a person hailing from an urban background. The only trend that can be observed is that as we move from the rural areas to the urban areas, there is a minor decline in the number of people opting for jobs, from 63% to 52%. We attribute this difference to the fact that more people in urban areas seem to be opting for MBA and higher studies.

PresentScenario

Jobs

Almost 60% of the final year students listed working in a company as their primary career path (Yes, placements are going to be competitive). Prima facie, it would be very heartening (for the faculty, at least) to note that half these students would want a job in the core sector. However, there is a catch. Deeper examination revealed that more or less, only students in CS, EC, EE and ME are interested in the core sector. This isn’t hard to understand, considering the core placement scenario in Kharagpur is very favourable in the said departments. The next major sector is finance and consulting at 28%, with the IT, FMCG and PSUs attracting 7% students each. While the finance sector is favoured by students from HSS (6 out of 6), Mining(45%) and Mathematics(40%), as many as 25% of to-be Electrical engineers who opted for jobs want one in the PSU sector, the maximum across departments.

Money is obviously an important factor when it comes to a career option, and 53% of job seekers cited it as a crucial factor in deciding their career. A worrying observation is that around 30% of respondents felt that aptitude is not an important factor, something which could backfire in the long run. Moreover, parental and peer pressure plays a major role when it comes to placements, suggesting there should be adequate counselling initiatives taken by the institute for the placement season.

Core further studies

Twenty per cent of our respondents wanted to go abroad for further studies in their core subject, although a majority of these respondents were from ECE, Mechanical and Physics. While 63% of those opting for this career path cited aptitude as a very important reason, 70% felt that their passion also made their choice relatively simple. Parents’ wishes and impact on society didn’t figure in the list of important reasons, however the lure of foreign shores is perhaps an added advantage, felt 30% of respondents. MIT-CMU-Berkeley remain the most preferred destination for such students, although a few European universities also proved to be dream destinations for some students.

MBA

Although almost half the final year students seem to have enrolled for CAT classes, only 9% have given serious thought to pursuing an MBA, thus indicating that several final year students use CAT to prepare in a better manner for placements. Our data indicated that money and aptitude are prime motivators for choosing this career path, although more than a quarter of our respondents felt that doing an MBA also offers all the perks of an extended campus life. Finance and consultancy sectors together account for nearly two-thirds of the jobs student would want to take up after completing MBA, although a healthy 22% would like to open their own start-ups.

UPSC

Surprisingly, UPSC (9%) is the first option of the same number of students as those wanting to go for an MBA, indicating the traditional IIT-IIM route to success is not looked upon as such by many today. The ability to have a positive impact on society, along with aptitude for babudom seems to be the guiding light for the majority of them. UPSC also finds favour with parents, 50% of respondents felt that parents’ choice was an important factor in them deciding this career option. On being asked if civil services provides an adequate compensation for all that hard-work put in at IIT, one of our respondents said, “No, probably not. At least not if you look at your life as a balance sheet. For me, working as a corporate whore is definitely a worse compensation. There are definitely a lot of problems with UPSC, but there is this belief that we can change things, and till it’s there, there is hope yet.” On being quizzed on whether they thought this was the best medium for change, another respondent said, “Yes. India won’t change without changing its politics and bureaucracy. These are the people in power and only these can bring the change to common masses.”

Start-ups

Posters announcing the recruitment program for a new start-up are pretty routine in KGP these days. With only 6% of our respondents thinking of start-ups as a viable career path right now, one would think that a lot more can be done to inspire students to open their own venture. Being one’s own boss is a very important factor for those who ticked off this particular career option, along with having a great idea. Interestingly, several of our respondents seem to have ideas which can positively impact society, and very few admitted to opting for start-ups just for the resume perks of it. 43% felt that their idea would not require any major source of funding, while 50% believe they would be able to successfully rake in the money from venture capitalists. One respondent justified the risk associated with an off-beat career by saying, “Starting-up something of your own and earning an average income gives you a far more self-satisfaction then working your ass off in a corporate quagmire for something that isn’t going to make any difference for humanity in general and you in particular, whatever the income may be.”

Summing up:

All in all, Kharagpur seems to be fairly geared up for the oncoming placement season. The placement committee will have its task cut out to improve the core job sector scenario in departments other than CS, EC, EE and ME. It is our humble opinion that the administration should introspect and come up with innovative solutions to encourage students to consider an academic career. Having said that, those truly motivated towards an MBA or the Civil Services should have all the means at their disposal to freely pursue this path. In the present scenario, a career counselling centre, working with a data-oriented approach, will perhaps be of tremendous help to both students and in the long term, the institute too.

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