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B School Placements in the Yule Tide

Posted by RB Kollannur on January 26, 2009

Disclaimer : The following post is fictional, though inspired by real events.

The pleasant winds of Christmas bring tidings of hope and propsperity in the New Year. And so it was, two years ago in 2006, when a group of MBA students eagerly awaited their placements before the Yuletide.

With careers on the line, placements are the most fought over incident in a B School life. The students have to be emotionally roused to perform at their best all the time. Few bad exchanges in a group discussion or some bad advices are enough to spill the boiling pot. So, the chances of something giving away are always strong. However going with the spirit of the season, these batch of students sought to tackle their placements together with a touch of solidarity.

It all started a month before Christmas. The campus was frenzy with rumors of our “step-sister institute” (so called because though they had better facilities, they catered to a lower rung of students who demanded more) to reach into our placement kitty. We were pushed into a corner by these concerns and attempted to address the situation by meeting the administration. The Director, however, stood steady as a rock (like the current Pakistani President) in light of the furore, which left us unsure of whether he knew what was going on. Fed up with his flip-flops and left fending for ourselves, we called for an “Open House” to see ourselves through the placements.

Open Houses are part of our college tradition, where the entire batch is called up in the middle of the night to discuss some factor affecting all of us and reach a consensus (though many a time it rarely did). Usually it will result in a flurry of ideas coming forth from all directions, like the outdated brainstorming sessions, and they will have to be resolved in more Open Houses. Since this was in the pre-twitter era, the option of live tweeting these Open Houses did not exist, so these valuable sessions are forever lost. The general rule was that every student had the right to call for two and a half open houses.

The Open House was called for and all of us assembled in the college auditorium. The topic was set and ideas poured in on how to tackle terrorism the overreaching attempts of the other institute to disrupt our placements. As expected several strategies came up, ranging from completely illogical (collective bargaining with the management and the administration) to more sensible ones like kidnapping a Cabinet minister (It was alleged later that the persons who came up with this suggestion had just been smoking marijuana growing on the volley court, after playing 48 hours of Counter Strike non-stop). Fortuitously, things resolved itself amicably as the other institute completed their placements well before our process had started. However, the whole episode brought the batch together into a cohesive unit which would see us through to placements.

The Placement Slots opened a week before Christmas. Early morning, the mess staff were greeted by a long queue of “student managers” surprisingly wide awake. They had gotten used to seeing us stumble to our breakfast tables half asleep (and in some very rare cases half drunk) seconds before the mess closed. Our juniors were also in early, as they had to handle the companies coming for placements and organize the entire placement process. Fortunately, the mess was well prepared to tackle the sudden onslaught of hungry students, though it was still pretty hectic out there.

The companies came in soon, some with shortlists in hand ready for the group discussions. The juniors met them at the gates and, unlike Horatius Cocles, let them in and took over from there, taking care of the interviewers while we moved on from one company to another. The tension was visible on many faces as the second shortlists came. Many missed the cut, but there were no drooping shoulder in sight.

My mentor for my summer internship had mentioned how crucial the support of your friends are in times of placements, to keep you motivated. The batch acted as the catcher in the rye holding together the dejected candidates telling to them keep their chin up and pepping them up for their next group discussion. As for the ones who got through, there were always a lot of “global” gurus to prep them for the next round.

Few of the students had been placed prior to the placement process having received pre placement offers from the company they did their summer internship. There were also couple of companies who had come earlier owing to their long term relationship with the institute (One of them got one of  the highest packages on offer that year despite having one of the lowest CGPA, shattering any myths about CGPA). Of the ones that were placed early, most stayed back, helping out their batchmates advising them and motivating them. (One annoying chap, however, stayed back to note down where everyone got placed, to the extend of staying outside the interviewer’s rooms questioning everyone, inviting the ire of the dejected candidates). Overall, the entire batch acted as a unit making sure nobody fell midway and everyone came through in he end. The juniors did a meticulous and efficient job taking care of the recruiters. The placement committee ensured the process went through without a glitch. A well-oiled machine was put to test and it came out with flying colors.

As the companies went by, most people came through. We crowded around whenever a final list was revealed cheering for the ones who cleared. Each list was greeted by a celebration, as more students got placed. The camaraderie among the batch was clear, evident and resounding. There were no signs of bad blood or disgruntlement over lost opportunity as everyone took part in congratulating the ones who got through.

Day 1 arrived, but by this time most were placed save less than a score. A horde of companies had to fight it out for these last few and the CV of these companies were good enough that few of the students placed earlier, chose to appear for some of them as well.

Day 1 also saw the campus back to full atttendence. Few of the students who were placed early had left for their homes, but now everyone was back cheering on the last few as they came from their interviews. The news of the last few getting placed was met with great zeal that cannot be easily rivaled. And so, the batch saw through the hectic placement process and all were smiles at the end, right on time for Christmas.

When all was said and done, we went around the campus for a quick money collection and a last minute party was organized in honor of the juniors who had come through for their seniors. But soon everyone had to hit the books as exams approached post Christmas.


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