B-schools and now even engineering schools are engaging in placement and career related conversations and less on learning and on the larger purpose of higher education. While placement are an important aspect of a b-school, it would not be prudent to consider placement as a differentiation, especially in the long run. Placements follow the business cycle and with supply of b-school graduates increasing one has to focus on the longer term. The focus has to shift more towards learning and long term impact for the student. Perhaps b-schools can bring back the focus to learning and personal development, by consciously changing the nature of communication, managing student expectation and engaging with alumni.
1. Communication – The first area where b-schools need to work is to ensure that the messaging is appropriate and relevant to the current times and in line with the vision of the school. Shifting the message from focus on placement to schools core vision and differentiated offering is most important. Communications that focus on schools’ purpose, faculty accomplishments, social contribution and consulting can really communicate the essence of the school better and set the stage for a learning journey.
2. Manage expectation – There are induction programs in all b-schools which includes among things the placement process awareness session. The dominant focus of these sessions are on placement processes and rules and not so much on expectation setting and management. It is very important that expectation be set and agreed upon early in the curriculum as far as placements are concerned. Sharing of historical data, discussing exception good and bad, and mapping potential roles to students is equally important. Sometimes supply of jobs may be adequate but because of misplaced expectations some jobs are just not taken up. It is important to manage the collective and individual level expectations of the batch so that job losses are minimized
3. Alumni engagement- It is without doubt that placement is a short term objective. To remove the excessive focus on the short term objective and enable students focus on the longer term , the alumni must be brought into the picture. Alumni are testimony of the value of learning and long term benefits of being focused on learning. The more students are engaged with alumni in conversations on career and less on jobs the focus is likely to shift to learning and its long term impact.