Business Schools struggle with Placements amid COVID-19 crisis

The classes of 2020 and 2021 in B-schools had reconciled to face the placement storm. But little they realize that it would be a tsunami of sorts. The year has been a roller coaster for conducting classes.

B-schools had been skeptical of a positive outcome in internships and placements. The global economic slowdown as an aftermath of the pandemic has gnawed its teeth on the job placement scene at B-schools this year. 

Internships and job placements

Companies have rescinded internships and either canceled offers or renegotiated the salaries in some job offers at premier institutes like IIMs. Some organizations have deferred the joining date, which sounds more hopeful compared with the withdrawals of job offers. 

Few students have earned internships; fewer still have obtained paid internships this year. While some of them received internship offers, others had to find theirs. Some companies had deferred or revoked a few internships.

Many students have taken up unpaid internships this year. The free internship contrasts with paid internships at the big three IIMs – A, B, and C and a few other premier schools which had attracted internship stipends from ₹60,000 to 1,50,00 till last year.

This does not bode well for PPOs (Pre-Placement Offers) many of which come as rewards for successful internships. PPOs are pivotal to obtaining job offers. 

IIM-B has so far attracted a good number of PPO and most students of the outgoing batch have landed safely. 

Institutes’ anguish

B-Schools are perturbed about no-shows from some recruiters. The institutes dread the absence of sectors like hospitality, supply-chain management, manufacturing, and retail who face a handicap due to the pandemic.

Most recruiters who had actively offered placements till last year are conspicuous by their absence this year. 

Is there any cheer?

Sectors that not only tided over the crisis but boomed this year look promising as B-schools hope to tap them for placements. The schools are looking at healthcare, digital transformation, and AI to fill the gap created by the sectors that will not recruit this year. 

What have institutes planned to assuage the situation?

The IIM Rohtak authorities are looking at sunrise industries for fulfilling the recruitment requirements. Dheeraj Sharma of IIM Rohtak is planning to knock at the doors of the healthcare, e-commerce, IT, and on-demand services sectors.

They also hope their students can tap opportunities in consulting services pertaining to the application of the recently introduced government schemes. The B-school is urging start-ups to make good the loss of the slowing economy. 

The placement committee at IIM Rohtak has committed itself to engage with corporates for virtual campus participation. 

Mr. Sharma of IIM Rohtak is confident of the institute’s preparedness in meeting the challenges of virtual internships this year.  

Officiating Vice-chancellor of SVKM’s NMIMS Deemed to be University and head of the School of Business Management, Ramesh Bhat said NMIMS has tightened its interaction with industry and alumni for campus engagement activities.

Many top B-schools have pushed campus placements from November to December hoping to buy time for organizations to recruit from their institutions. 

IIM Calcutta has moved the preparation activities online. Abhishek Goel, chairperson, placement committee, IIM-C, asserts that the placement team at the institute is ready to shift the placement process entirely online if necessary.

Abbasali Gabula, associate director, external relations at Bhavan’s S. P. Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR) said that the institute had organized a “virtual internship drive” for the batch of 2021.

The institute had enhanced its IT infrastructure to engage in a seamless process for recruiters and students across five different online platforms. Faculty members work with students and guide them throughout the duration of the internship, ensuring that the quality of work is intact.

This design ensured the seamless performance of students in the virtual work-from-home setup during internships.

Shifting campus activities online has had both plus and minus sides. The virtual mode gave way for a more convenient process at a low cost on the placement side. B-Schools are working on streamlining the process.

The virtual work-from-home internships must run smoothly for improving placement prospects. The move toward online learning may have affected the quality of training during internships this year. 

Colleges and universities are designing ways to get real-time exposure to industry exposure online. This exercise is ongoing at educational institutes today as there is little information on how long the current pandemic will prevail.

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