Influence, experience, perceptions; How impactful are they in IIT placements? (PART 1)

IIT placements and enormous salary packages have been a trending discussion in the past few months. These discussions lead to unruly elevations of the IIT bandwagon due to exorbitant packages every year. According to previous statistics, IITs have a record of the highest placements amongst most engineering institutes in India. However, how dependable are these statistics that have the power to manipulate corporate perceptions? And do these statistic truly imply that IITians are indeed a class apart from other engineering graduates? Lets take a deeper look into various fragments of placements in IITs and other local engineering institutes. 

Corporate perceptions:

According to recruiters from some MNCs, owing to the tedious selection process (JEE Main and JEE Advanced) to get an IIT seat, these students are considered to have high ability and confidence. But is it fair to judge a student’s credibility based on an exam he/she gave 4 years ago? According to Mitul Agrawal, a 2012 graduate from IIIT Allahabad, “Out of approximately 13.5 lakh JEE applicants last year, only 10000 students made it to an IIT. Hence, the JEE is a credible source to judge a student’s intelligence. The aptitude of the student might have changed in the 4 years of studies, but that can be inferred during the interview.”

In fact, some IITians have confirmed that their initial training in a company differed from the training of graduates from other colleges. P. P. Katti, a 2008 graduate from IIT Kanpur, says, “My manager had a lot of confidence in IIT graduates. On our first day at work, I was inducted in the main development team and asked to develop a new feature for our product. The other recruits who were not from IITs were given coding tasks.” This may not be true throughout all companies, as the level of training will depend on the requirements of the team and the job profile for which the student has been hired. 

So what factors frame such perceptions? And is this a unanimous notion? Deepak Agrawal, Associate Director, ISB, who conducted IIT placements when he was in Infosys, says, “It is usually the mid-level managers who have such a bias towards IITians. Those holding higher posts in the company are usually open for placements from any college as long as they find the desired candidates.”

However, some recruiters that we spoke to were of the opinion that even IIT graduates do not have industry relevant skills and have to undergo similar training as those from other colleges. At the same time, IITians are considered to have high quality raw talent which can then be shaped into required skills. 

Salary Packages:

It is a known fact that IIT graduates receive higher salary packages than their counterparts in other colleges. But how much does this speak about the intelligence of the student? A company can hire a lateral resource with some on-field experience in the same salary as an IIT fresher. Then why would they want to increase their cash outflows for beginner positions? 

Higher packages do not imply higher intelligence levels. In fact, according to some industry experts, similar salaries are offered to students from all engineering colleges for the same job profile. However, with the job profile, there will be different grades offered to students based on their calibre. Thus, the salary bracket will differ based on the grades offered. 

Placement Statistics: 

Every year, some IITs release placement records noting the average band of packages and the highest package record for the year. However, the verity of such reports can be and has been questioned. Agrawal, who is also an alumnus of IIT Delhi, says, “The accuracy of these statistics is about 80%. When institutes claim a 100% placement record, it may not always be true. Besides, some placement reports and rankings may also be published by media houses, who may have access to only 50% of the data records.” In fact, the official placement reports are usually released by the institute’s PR Cell, which may have vested interests in portraying a better position of the institute. 

Such statistics play a large role in building public opinion. While IIT graduates being offered job profiles worth a crore rupees is not jaw dropping news anymore, every time such news is published, it reinforces student opinions about the IIT brand.

According to Prof G.T. Thampi, Principal, Thadomal Shahani Engineering College, Mumbai, “It is difficult to get a combination of high salary and desired job profile. Placement reports rarely describe the quality of job profiles offered. Institutes claiming 100% placements will have at least 20-30% of their students placed in mediocre jobs through mass hiring firms.”

Alumni Networks and IIT consultancy:

IIT alumni tend to stay in touch with their batchmates, juniors and the institute through alumni networks. Many of them also hold influential posts like CEO, VP, CTO, etc. in various global companies today. Besides, according to some official reports, IITs earn high revenues through consultancy and research services for various industries. This forms the basis for a strong IIT-Industry network. IITs then harness this network by inviting these companies for college placements and transforming their consultancy revenues into high salary packages.

The notion that IITians make better engineers than other colleges has long persisted. The debate of IIT graduates vs other local college graduates has been going on since liberalisation in the early 90s. However, in the last decade, this notion has vastly percolated into the public mind. The rising pay packages reported each year has only made the IIT selection process tougher. It is important to assess the impact of such perceptions on placements in other local engineering institutes as well. 

Following are links to previous years’ placement reports by IITs

Following are links to the consultancy projects taken up by some IITs.…

You can also read the PART 2 of this article.

Read Next