Bucking the trend followed by engineering graduates in the recent past, about 100 IIT-Kharagpur students have skipped placement for blue-chip companies this year to apply for jobs in core engineering sectors. Though this has surprised many, both faculty and students were happy at this reverse trend that has become the talking point at ongoing campus interviews.
For over a decade, most students from core engineering faculties would invariably cross over during placement offers and opt for the IT, consulting and financial sectors. Since these companies offer huge salaries, they are allowed to meet students on the first couple of days of campus placement. Others, especially those from core engineering, come into the scene after the best offers have been made.
“This is a healthy trend. Our curricula are framed in such a way that every student is strong in his core discipline. However, no matter how much we want to retain students for higher education, industry always manages to get them. The other concern was that students ultimately prefer to branch out into business analytics, finance and IT,” said Sudhir Barai, the faculty in-charge of career development at the campus. “The institute, however, allows flexible curricula, catering to a cross-section of trending subjects.”
The institute brainstormed on how to stem the brain drain from core disciplines. Over the past year, at a large number of guest lectures and workshops, where senior alumni, who hold leading positions in core engineering companies, spoke to students to inspire them.
Five aerospace engineering department students, who were chosen for Day 1 placements, gave non-core sectors a miss to opt for the three companies in the field. This was risky as there were 30 students from the department. The five got placed in Airbus, Honeywell and Rolls-Royce. Department topper Rishita Das, placed in Airbus, said: “My interest in this discipline dates to my school days. This got sharpened after interacting professors of my institute. I had more than one offer from the non-core sector on Day 1, which I gave up for a much lower-paying job. Ultimately I will be able to put my training to use and earn no less.”
Vedang Deshpande, placed in Honeywell Technology Solutions, said: “There are many like me. Yes, it meant forgoing salaries to the tune of Rs 25 lakh annually for something well below Rs 10 lakh. But I did not want to give up all the workshop hands-on experience of all these five years.”
Students from the departments of chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, geology & geophysics, ocean engineering and naval architecture also opted solely for core engineering companies, as did those from the much sought-after departments of electrical engineering and electronics & electrical communication engineering.
Shubham Singh (mechanical engineering), who got placed in Bajaj Auto, reasoned: “Students prefer consulting companies as they get exposure to several domains in less time. There are also fewer jobs in core companies. However, core companies ensure in-depth knowledge in research and development in the manufacturing sector.”
Students said they had to debate not only with themselves but also with family members before making such a choice because the average starting salary in the core sector would take years to match what IT, consulting and finance offer. Navojit Saha (chemical engineering) said: “However, giving up on my core strength would also mean my parents’ hard-earned money and my hard work for five years going down the drain.”