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The placement process is filled with uncertainty. Students sitting for it might not be happy with the job offer that they’ve received or want to target a different sector entirely. One way of getting that dream job that isn’t explored enough in IIT Bombay is external apping.

In this piece, Adarsh Inani from the Chemical Engineering department who graduated in 2018, talks about his experience of getting a job from off-campus. He goes on to share tips for anyone thinking of applying externally.

The placement season is by far and large one of the most important phases of campus life. Experiences of the last 4-5 years, preparation of the past few months/ semesters, everything comes down to the placement season for those hoping to get their dream job.

I vividly remember my placement season and December 1 of 2018 and have experienced first-hand the randomness associated with the process. There is a good deal of uncertainty and luck involved. Of course, hard work and preparation matter a lot but there are a lot of other factors also at play. The intense and exhausting environment of the process leads many to doubt and question themselves.  

If you have not landed your dream job, firstly, don’t be disheartened and try to secure an offer in the companies next in the list. Additionally, there are lots of companies which do not come for placements where you can apply. Take the process as a learning opportunity, try to analyze the mistakes you made and utilize your final semester more efficiently to secure your desired job. 

In what follows, I will briefly share my experience with placements and external applications, my thoughts on some basic guidelines regarding applications and what mistakes to avoid. 

I wanted to give consulting a try. This choice was mainly due to the interactions with seniors, buddies and the overall perception of consulting firms on campus. Since I was only able to secure a non-consulting job through campus placements, I chose to apply externally. 

When to start applying externally?

Ideally you should start looking for other options once you have decided or have some sense that you are not happy with the job offer you have. Late December or early January is a good time to start shortlisting companies and reaching out to seniors in the firms.

There are a lot of good companies in every sector that do not come for campus placements. Even among the ones that do, not everyone who gets selected ends up in joining as some switch to a different company. This applies largely to all companies. So, you have no shortage of firms that you can apply to. Try shortlisting from the companies where your peers have interned, got placed, startups, other companies that do not visit for placements.

How’s the process?

The process includes steps right from finding opportunities via online portals, reaching out to people, scheduling interviews, maybe travelling to a different city for interviews among others. Hiring and attrition are always ongoing so opportunities will keep coming. 

It might be overwhelming at times, but it is certainly manageable. You may initially do not receive a lot of positive responses from HRs regarding a potential vacancy but don’t let it discourage you. Give it some time before things fall into place.

Is there a difference between on-campus and off-campus placements?

In terms of the kind of role, compensation, geography: no. Your qualifications are the same whether you sit for campus placements or apply externally. The only difference is placements are a very easy and streamlined process that brings all the companies to you and makes the process much smoother. On the other hand, for off campus applications, you have to do everything, right from reaching out to the HRs/ seniors to going out for interviews. 

Should you apply externally?

If you are not satisfied with what you have, please do. It’s much better than regretting it later. I was fortunate enough to get good offers in the sector I wanted to explore.

Much like the rest of us, even you are not sure about what you like, and if you are neutral towards the offer you have, there is no harm in talking to people and understanding the kind of work they do. Get a sense of how it will be like in your job as compared to others. It will give you a good idea if you are okay with exploring the option you have currently or if you would like to give some other profiles a try.

A few important things:

Applying for jobs externally in your final semester is fine but keep the following things in your mind. 

  1. Don’t apply blindly and spam everyone in every company with mails and resume. 
  2. Select the companies you are interested in, try reaching out to alums/ others in those companies via LinkedIn or other platforms. Do talk to your friends and seniors. Some of my applications that were successful, and the interview calls I secured, were because of my friends and some seniors. Please don’t hesitate in reaching out to people for help.
  3. CPI is as important after placements as it was before them so keep a focus on your academics also. The job you will get by the end of your campus life will not be your final job. Most people shift to a new sector/ company after spending 6 months to 2 years. Wherever you go – be it a new job, higher studies, MBA, etc., your final CPI will be important. 
  4. Don’t let your final semester become entirely about job applications. Given these are the final few months you have at insti, try exploring other things – maybe some courses, projects you wanted to do, participate in competitions and attend conferences, try out a hobby, take up a sport, be a part of cultural activities, go out on trips, and so on. 
  5. Be patient with the applications. It might take some time for you to get the right company. I received two of my best offers only in the beginning of summers.
  6. Even if you do not get the dream job you always wanted, don’t be sad.
    1. First, the idea of your dream job is vague. It is just basis some interactions you have had with a few people and the kinds of things you have heard. A lot of people are unhappy with their first job and it holds across sectors and companies. Don’t be dejected whenever someone paints a rosy picture of their job. Try getting multiple opinions and decide for yourself and that too with a pinch of salt.
    2. Second, it is not the end. If you are not happy with the job you get, just get some experience and try to switch again to either a new job or studies or something else. That’s how you will come to know what you like. Don’t be afraid of a change. Just have a little courage and make that call. 

I know people who have left some of the companies that are considered the best in the campus after 6 months to 1 year of joining as well as some people who did not get what they wanted at first but eventually did a lot better than others who got the jobs very earlier in the placement process.

If you have decided you will be applying externally, start working on it a little early so you don’t miss out on any opportunity. Come up with a plan and find time for the preparation and applications. 

Keep trying and eventually, you will find what you like. Keep an open mind be a little flexible. Reach out to your friends and seniors for any help you need regarding external applications. Everyone is more than happy to help. And do enjoy your final few months on the campus.