99 out of 100 times, the above two words are all it takes for an institute to ensure that their admissions for the next year doesn’t take a hit. So what is it about the seemingly magical ‘100%’ that entices students into opting for an institute or an institute using these words to ensure that their brand remains relevant?
Now before I dissert my opinion on that, let’s focus on two words in the above lines. ‘Seemingly magical’. I will justify the use of the above words with a lengthy dissertation that would probably resonate with some of you.
Let us first consider the various entities involved in the ‘placement’ process. We have:
- A Placement Committee
- The Institute
- The Industry
So these entities together interact in a given institutional setting to ‘facilitate’ the placement process.
Now akin to the 4Ps of Marketing, let us now talk about the 4Ps of a job:
- Place of Work
- People ( Colleagues)
So this broadly is the setting for a typical placement process. The above entities interact to facilitate the fulfillment of ‘at least’ one of the above ‘P’s of a job. Everything looks well-structured and smooth right?
Yes it does.
Except for the fact that as an institute you are dealing with the dreams and aspirations of 600-800 students under your tutelage.
It is pragmatic that given the capability of a particular institute, it would not be possible to nurture and fulfill the dream of every student. However what is not pragmatic is coercing students to share an institute’s vision of 100% placements and hence give up on his/her dream or competency.
Picked from the same batch are a select set of students who constitute a committee which acts like an interface between the students and the corporate. From engaging corporates in guest lectures and various conclaves to acting as SPOCs during placements,contacting and convincing firms to visit the campus, these members are part of the team called the Placement Committee.
Now with the idea of ‘student driven placements’, we infer that this committee has its own targets to meet. They are accountable to a placement chair who is in turn accountable to the management and so on. So now weigh the scales again.
800 Unique Dreams Vs 100% Placements
So if Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs were to be used to explain this process, the dream job of a student could lie somewhere at the bottom while the ‘100% Placements’ objective reinforced by the placement committee and the institute would be right at the top.
It is my understanding that great academics doesn’t translate into great jobs. Vice versa.
Having said that, there are going to be students in every batch who might need an extra push towards the placement process. A push only because sometimes there is a sense of complacency that a student undergoes as he feels he is entitled to a job because the institute promised ‘100% placements’. This push is often a classic tale of a carrot versus a stick. This can be remedied only by faculty for it is they who would need to mentor a student on the choices that he makes. Something that makes him come out of that feeling of ‘entitlement’ towards a job.
For students are humans. The marketing act of a ‘push or pull’ strategy isn’t going to work here.
The success of an institute has been perceived largely based on its ability to fulfill this ‘100% placement’ criterion. However behind this veil of success lie stories of shattered dreams, coerced jobs, meek servility and a lot more. It is a classic example of ‘The Ends justify The Means’.
The efforts that institutes are taking towards reaching out to corporates is fantastic. With guest lectures, alumni meets, panel discussions and what not, they surely do seem to be having a healthy engagement with the corporates. However in this process, they seem to be losing out their engagement with their students. Quite possibly even not understanding what is it that students expect at the end of their placement season.
All along students are tutored to take their own decisions. Yet in the face of something as important as this, they are to trust the ‘facilitators’ that this was the best they could get and that the decision was made keeping in mind their best interests at heart.
Limiting the number of offers a student has is yet another tool that facilitates 100% placements. Companies who visit the campus early walk away with the cream while the latter ones are forced to contend with the leftovers. Severely hurting the chances of them visiting the campus again.’One Student One Offer’. This is not a government scheme that is supposed to guarantee employment.
So in this rather long ‘supply-chain’ of jobs, whom do we blame? It would be tough to pick one person and say he or she is responsible for it. For each of them seem to be driven by their own demands of the positions that they hold. Right from the HR who walks into the campus knowing that a Marketing student isn’t going to be able to write codes in an IT industry to the student who sits or is forced to sit for the process, there is some trace of blood on everyone’s hands.
We probably need to take a leaf out of the West’s book and look at job booths where a candidate is in a position to sell himself and his competency without the burden of being a brick in a rather detrimental wall called ‘100% placements’. For more than anything it reinforces confidence in students that they are ‘competent’ for a particular role rather than waiting for someone else to ‘fit’ them in a role that they may not be competent at.
All in all, the system needs to understand if their education and the associated benefit called ‘placements’ is going to give students a ‘job’ or a ‘career’.
These rants of mine are possibly a reflection of the dissatisfaction that a lot of my friends seem to be faced with in their current roles in their respective firms. It is also a reflection of my brief stint in the education sector which helped me understand how institutes perceive placements as the end result towards enhancing their brand.