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Introduction

The value of summer internships in an undergraduate’s career is immense, in terms of both skill development and industry exposure. This is especially true for an environment like IIT wherein we are exposed to a gamut of options. The options available to a student have never been this varied, and in such a scenario, an internship is invaluable in helping students explore their interests. It aids the transition between theoretical knowledge and industry experience. It exposes students to real industry expectations and helps them form opinions about various career options. One is exposed to working in a team and a variety of interpersonal situations. A sense of ownership, responsibility and achievement often gets inculcated while working in a company to solve problems or develop new ideas. In some cases, an internship can culminate with a Pre-Placement Offer (PPO) too. However, things are slightly different when it comes to Dual Degree students at IIT Bombay. With this article, Insight brings to you a detailed analysis of the problems faced by Dual Degree students with regards to securing internships in their 3rd and 4th years and presents a case for 4th year internships through the PT Cell.

Current Situation

According to the existing norms, Dual Degree students, independent of the department, are allowed to sit for internships only during their 3rd year. While all departments have their own policies with regards to the DDP, currently, no Dual Degree students are allowed to sit for internships during their penultimate (4th) year, through the PT cell. This policy however, is unique to IIT Bombay. While almost all other IITs allow Dual Degree students to sit for internships during their 4th year, some IITs even allow the students to sit for internships in both 3rd and 4th year.

Since Dual Degree students form a sizable chunk of the undergraduate population, many students are left to fend for themselves with respect to internships. Scouting for an internship on your own is an art in itself – mailing, cold-calling, canvassing family and friends’ networks. Even those who do manage to secure an internship – they usually find themselves stuck in sub-standard roles and non-existent projects. This trend has caused great discontentment among the DD students, as they feel virtually locked out of several reputed companies that offer coveted internships, despite having comparable credentials, if not better.

These woes don’t end however, when Dual Degree students do finally become pre-final year students in their 4th year and hence eligible for the internships that they missed out on the previous year, the PT cell doesn’t allow them to register. The main reason for this is that the summer of the DD 4th year is reserved for the Dual Degree Project.

Problems with the current system: 

While we are aware that the institute has its own rationale for not deferring the internship season for DDs, here are some reasons in favour of the case for a 4th year internship season for DDs:

  1. The existing system puts dual degree people at a significant disadvantage: almost all the non core and some core companies prefer students who can be offered PPOs (pre-placement offers) right after the internship, so as to cut down the training costs for companies in the future. Furthermore, students also tend to change their preferences over the 2 years before graduation. Therefore, firms only choose to open for students in their penultimate year of study. This implies that a majority of the firms coming in through the PT cell do not open for DD students at all, thereby depriving them of several crucial opportunities.
  2. Lack of work experience in a sector (especially non-core) can result in students losing out on placement opportunities in their desired field: Internships are important not only for building a good resume, but also provide crucial work experience, something that becomes invaluable to HR managers at the time of placements. Especially in the non core sector, previous work experience becomes all the more important. With limited opportunities for dual degree students, this becomes a major drawback. While it might be true that Dual Degree students fare better in core placements, BTech students do have an option to extend their degree for the same, while the reverse is not true.
  3. The project work for DDP and it’s time intensivity varies from project to project: Students have managed to finish their DDPs well before the stipulated time and therefore a 4th year summer intern is very much possible. A blanket rule that assumes that all projects are equally time intensive makes little sense. Perhaps, with the approval from the respective guides, fitting a summer internship between the 4th and the 5th year can be made possible. This is in fact very common and has been done by several students in the past. The only problem here is looking for internships on your own and not being allowed to register through the PT cell.
  4. By the end of their 4th year, most students already know whether or not they wish to pursue research in the future: The presumption behind having a research oriented dual degree course is that the students shall pursue research in the future too. While this may be true for some, it is not the case with every DD student. Most students get into a DD course without a clear idea of what they are stepping into and what is expected of them. The students who do wish to pursue a time and research intensive DDP have the option of not sitting for internships at all. Instead of a blanket rule, there should be more choice in this regard.
  5. Liking for core research shouldn’t be forced on students: If a student isn’t interested in research, whether they spend all 14 months or 11 months during the semester, the outcome would remain the same regardless. The assumption that more time implies better research may not always be true.
  6. Certain dual degree programs don’t offer very lucrative core opportunities to students, while some programs do: While certain courses clearly offer heavy pay packages in the core sector, some courses do not offer equally good opportunities, atleast at the undergraduate level. A significant proportion of students from the non conventional programs wish to go for non core very early on in their college life. Restricting the non core opportunities for them at the time of internships seems unnecessary as they would opt for non core options during placements either way. 
  7. The anxiety faced by students when they look at their peers securing internships, while their own choices are restricted, is really taxing and often leads to self doubt. Especially this year, with limited opportunities for students across the campus, dual degree students have suffered disproportionately. Certain firms that would have opened for DDs otherwise have either not opened for them altogether or have shortlisted only BTech/BS students for the further processes. 

Conclusion

While the set of problems mentioned above may not be an exhaustive list, it certainly covers the major drawbacks of the existing policy. What makes the case for 4th year internships stronger is the fact that all other IITs with DD programs allow for it while IIT Bombay doesn’t. In the recently held GSAA UG’s GBM, the topic about the fourth year DD internships was discussed. As per the GSAA UG, it is the Curriculum Review Committee which makes decisions on these matters. Since the committee does not have any student representative, it becomes difficult to push these matters forward. We hope the department student representatives will convey these issues to the concerned authorities. This year has been especially tough for the current 3rd year DD students with regards to internships and timely actions can possibly allow for a deferred internship season in the 4th year.

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Chief Editors: Amogh Gawaskar and Suman Mondal

Mail to: insight@iitb.ac.in