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COVID-19 Outbreak: Impact on Campus Placements

In the wake of coronavirus outbreak in the country, students who got campus placements are left in a lurch as some companies have begun delaying offers, while some have withdrawn their offers. However, there are other companies that are ready to honour all job offerings. Beside all these, there is still a positive hope that the future campus placements are going to be impressive as in past few years. This observation is purely based on the addresses of global corporate leaders and the training and placement officers of top-rated institutions.

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The impact of COVID-19 on Industrial growth and Campus Placements

In the light of rising concerns about the COVID-19 spread, many companies have put hold on their placement process. Colleges in India are facing a tough year ahead with disruptions in their campus recruitments as the pandemic affects businesses worldwide. Generally, most business and engineering schools conduct campus placements between December and April every year. While many students have been placed already, some still struggle to find a good job offer.

However, due to the prolonged lockdown to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, few companies are deferring the offers made, while some have withdrawn offers made already. Still, there are companies also that are honouring the offers made to students and will not cut any salary.

Many large companies including technology giants such as Infosys, TCS, Google, Wipro, Capgemini, Tech Mahindra, Accenture, PepsiCo, PayU are honouring their job offers made to campus hires despite weak revenue outlook caused by the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual on-boarding across the world is working well for some companies. The senior leadership is continuously monitoring the situation and leveraging technologies like tele-presence and video conferencing to ensure business continuity.

Other than technology companies, FMCG majors like Godrej, Pepsi-Co, Biocon, Hindustan Unilever (HUL), consultancy firms Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Bain & Company, and McKinsey, and banks like ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra, Citi and Axis Bank are also honouring their job offers.

Cognizant will bring on-board 20,000 freshers this fiscal. However, the company said that the on-boarding dates will depend on various factors, including the actual completion of the academic programme and the business impact of the ongoing lockdown.

A number of global companies with a large presence in India have assured employees that there would be no or insignificant layoffs while the lockdown continues. Some have taken a 90 day no lay-off pledge while some have put a stop to all layoffs for this year. Some of these companies are SAP, Morgan Stanley, Salesforce, Palo Alto Networks, PayPal, Citigroup, JP Morgan, Bank of America and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Sectors including banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), retail, logistics (delivery) where a lot of frontline-hiring takes place are likely to witness delay in offers made to graduates. More companies will now depend on technology as an alternate channel to continue with the same pace of productivity.

With countries closing borders and entering into lockdowns, recruiters, especially MNCs, are revisiting their hiring plans and are either revoking offers or delaying the joining. Oilfield services provider Petrofac has rescinded five placement offers. As stated by Business Standard, Gartner, WorkIndia rescinded its final placement offers as well as those for internships at IIM Calcutta and IIM Ahmedabad. According to Indian Express, Schlumberger, the world's largest oil-field-services company, wrote to the IITs on April 6 that it had decided to "reduce and withdraw some internship and graduate job opportunities" in a bid to adjust to the "sudden reduction" in "customers spend". TOP

Scenario at SCE

Keeping all these all possible outcomes in mind, the department of Training and Placement, with the consent of the management, has already written to all the recruiters to process the date of joining of the selected students and also possibly defer it according to the exam dates. Majority of our recruiters have agreed and promised as well to honour the offers given to the students. As a result, all our placed students are likely to be on-boarded as soon as their University exams will be over. TOP

Need for a Paradigm Shift

Campus recruitments are the major hope for the Engineering students in India for starting their careers. Major percentage of graduates' recruitment in India is done through campus recruitments. Though there are other sciences and professional programmes in the country, students pursuing engineering courses are considered to be the major target audience in campus recruitments.

COVID-19 has changed the campus recruitment perspective. Industries, institutions, and students who are the key players of campus recruitment process are highly impacted by COVID-19. Going forward, institutions and companies may not be able to follow conventional campus recruitment hiring models. TOP

Remote Training

The campus recruitment preparation starts with training the students for facing the online tests, Group discussions and interviews. In India, the admissions to professional courses are directly linked with the campus placement success rate of the educational institutions. Most of the institutions start preparing the students from the first year for placements. Almost all of the institutions do intense placement training during the pre-final year or just before the start of the campus season. The training includes preparation for aptitude tests, programming or coding, group discussions and interviews. Institutions engage internal faculty and professional trainers for training the students.

Most of the training sessions should be class room based, after which the students practice their aptitude and coding skills on the online platforms subscribed by the institution. After COVID-19, all the training has to be done online. The forced summer vacation due to COVID-19 is a blessing in disguise as the students are free and can take the training in online mode. Institutions may use online platforms like Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Zoom and others to form virtual class room for aptitude, programming training, groups for Group discussion training. The online training should be supplemented by practice tests conducted periodically in the online platforms. Online interviews differ from the conventional in person interviews. Students should now focus on getting trained in attending virtual or online interviews by participating in more number of mock online interviews before they start facing the company interviews. Students should ensure that they have an account for online learning platforms includ ing MS Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, Cisco WebEx and others, as the tools used by the recruiters may vary. TOP

Remote Hiring (right from pre-talk to HR interview)

A conventional campus recruitment process involves pre placement talk in big auditoriums, online tests in labs, Group discussions in class rooms and interviews in interview panels. Due to COVID-19 and social distancing norms all the above are not possible even if the institutions re open after the lock down.

But above said processes are possible in a virtual or online mode. For example, Cisco WebEx enables 3000 participants in virtual mode. Companies may do their pre placement talk using this tool. Online tests can also be conducted remotely without asking the students to come to labs. There are testing companies which help the companies to monitor the tests remotely, when a student is taking the test. Even before COVID-19 many companies have started using the tools for conducting online tests remotely. Platforms like HackerRank, HackerEarth may help in conducting remote programming tests. Hence, getting oneself exposed to these online coding assessment platforms will be of more use. Online interviews for the short listed students may be conducted through videoconferencing tools like Skype. TOP

Challenges in Adapting This Paradigm Shift

For people in the Education vertical, this scenario has ushered us to the online modes of learning and assessments with Universities contemplating a blended mode of teaching-learning for the majority of the courses henceforth.

On one hand, while such transitions make learning more self-paced, accessible and available, yet whether learners can account for shouldering greater responsibility of improvised degree of personalization, absence of a competitive environment, less of peer pressure and collaborative learning environment is a topic which has to be revisited from time to time.

But the post COVID scenario emphasizes the need that the world has to be social online, imbibe a different professional culture and gear up to embrace the new normal altogether. In case of education rendering employable or industry-ready resources the scenario at the corporate end with respect to hiring would result in e-hiring, online training, e-joining and on-boarding for many with major transformations in salary/wage structure, job role and responsibility.

The job requirements and the HR perspective will be more focussed on cutting edge technologies and skillsets. The traditional approach of bench culture, train after hire will be replaced with industry-ready manpower - ready to deploy on the project from day 1.

IT giants like HCL and Tech Mahindra has already announced that 50 per cent of its employees would be working from home for 12-18 months even after the lifting of lockdown. Here along with technical skills, students from upcoming batches are required to understand and practice online work ethics, while working from home how he/she should maintain the correspondence with the organisational hierarchies and clients and with their teams.

Students may have internet issues while attending the online selection process. They should ensure that they have uninterrupted internet connectivity while attending the selection process.

Post the lockdown, if they are in the campus, they should use institution's infrastructure for attending interviews and tests, even if they are given an option of attending the process remotely. They should prepare and practice for remote interviews as the interview experience may vary with a conventional interview process. TOP

Future Campus Placements

The best way to describe about the future placement is to start with the quote, "After the change in US visa regulations couple of years ago most of the IT product consulting analytics banking companies have set up their IT captives in India". All the industries in India require freshmen for their operations. After the change in US visa regulations couple of years ago, most of the IT product, Consulting, analytics, banking companies have set up their IT captives in India. These companies have started recruiting freshers from the campus with good pay packets. They would continue to hire even after the lockdown and it is a good news for the 2021 graduates.

It would not be a bold statement to state this pandemic has fuelled the need for a more robust digital environment and online operations have skyrocketed through the digital infra for most of the industries. It has been witnessed how in a very short span of time every sector has resorted to the changing environment be it work from home, social distancing, increased virtual meetings, shared access on and off cloud and imparting services online. Most of the companies have successfully shifted 40 per cent of our tasks online in this period!!

Post-COVID-19 the whole new world will be looking at young graduates with assertive anticipation for progressing and re-establishing the industry and thereby economy, with the dissolute, smart and reliable approach. The only advice to students is that they to learn how to learn new things at a proper pace and with precision.

Mass IT Service recruiters also will hire from the campuses but they may be conservative in terms of hiring numbers and also may defer their hiring season as they need to test and interview big number of students from the campuses.

Core Engineering and automotive sector companies' revival may take some time and may push their hiring season to the last semester and may be selective in visiting campuses this year.

The preventive measure of remote working went live both abruptly and at a scale like never before. However, the Indian IT sector was better equipped to manage it because of cloud-based infrastructure, tools and BCP plans that helped them quickly adapt. This was especially true for companies with software and applications at the core of their business. Their employee base was already familiar with remote working practices. The good news is that the ecosystem around India's IT sector has also gone into the fast-respond mode. Learning and Development, and event partners for example, are creating remote-first offerings. India's IT industry has grown to become interconnected with almost all other business sectors in the country, right from healthcare to manufacturing to travel and more. TOP

How to Prepare Oneself

Maintain a good CGPA: This is important because you need a good CGPA to be eligible for various drives.

Online Courses: Complete relevant courses on NPTEL, COURSERA, DATACAMP, EDX etc and try to get a good percentage in the exams. If you couldn't get the certificate for any reason, utilise those learning platforms for gaining knowledge in that subject, so that you can show your interest towards the field in the interviews.

Aptitude and Reasoning: Almost majority of the companies have these two in their first round for shortlisting from bunch of students. So start preparing all important topics. You can use the familiar books such as books by Agarwal, Sakunthala Devi for this. For more practice stuff, there are lots of telegram groups regarding placements and materials. You will get so many pdf file there for practice.

Verbal: Practice sentence correction, vocabulary, reading comprehensions, verb forms etc. Watch good YouTube videos to know how to attempt these kinds of questions. Again, practice stuff will be available online and in telegram groups.

Coding and Concepts: Practice well in some of the familiar languages including C, PYTHON, and JAVA, because coding will be asked for IT company drives. Also learn the important concepts in core subjects in CSE. You need to learn them in depth if you are a CSE/IT student. You should be thorough with the basics of these subjects if you are from non CSE/IT. Creating free accounts in online coding assessment platforms such as HackerRank and HackerEarth can be an added advantage for easily cracking the coding rounds.

Improve The Communication Skills: This has to be compulsorily done to perform well in the interview.

Professional Social Networks: You can start expanding your network on virtual platforms like LinkedIn to follow many companies and also corporate people so that you will get to know about any opportunities if they post anything.

Internships: Try doing an internship and leave a good impression there to make sure that you can negotiate a job offer there. TOP

Experts' Views

AI will shape the world in next 10 years, says Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO
There are immense possibilities and opportunities in tech in India. Nadella said that the power of India that lies in front of people will shape the country in the next 10 years or more.

Employees should amplify their core competencies amid Covid 19, says Sammeer Saurabbh, CTO, HDFC Securities
In this time of global crisis, it is difficult to stay motivated but at the same time, it is a good time to upskill yourself. When professionals are trying to keep themselves engaged with digital learning, a lot of innovation is happening around the world right now.

This is an opportunity to challenge conventional thinking, encourage innovation and drive creativity: Vaibhav Gawde, Head -Solution Engineering, Oracle India
The field of technology is ever evolving with new technologies being made available to developers and businesses at a rapid pace. It's important that techies continue to expand their knowledge and future-proof their careers by upskilling or reskilling themselves in new fields. Emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning or Blockchain, IoT or Digital Assistants among many others, will help techies expand their repertoire and remain relevant. On their part, organisations need to provide a constant learning environment and support upskilling, reskilling programs to prepare developers for the future.

VMware India's Ramkumar Narayanan suggests that the digital workspace is here to stay
The current challenging situation has amplified the role of technology in navigating the new normal. This might be the Industry 4.0 that we work through, to establish new ways of customer and employee experience, innovate in terms of product development, digitise operations and reinvent new technical roles that will help nurture the IT industry and support the demand for the new future of work.

It's time to learn, unlearn, relearn and adapt technology: Sindhu Ramachandran, Practice Leader - Deep Learning and Image Analytics, QuEST Global
You have to begin by having a clear plan in mind. Defining a set of smart goals would make the path easier. If you have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish, your passion will automatically drive you to attain them. In today's world where the technology is changing very fast, you will have to learn, unlearn, relearn and adapt. Even when faced with the most adverse situations and challenges, try to embrace them and learn from it. If possible, take part in technical meetups, conferences, hackathons, etc. that will give you immense exposure to technical use cases, their solutions and an opportunity to network with like-minded people and share ideas and learn. TOP

The upcoming generation's lifestyle is going to be completely dependent upon digital socialization: Mr. Prabakaran Murugaiah, the Chairman of Tiliconveli Techpark, Founder and CEO of Techfetch.com, Virginia, USA
The digital job opportunities will drastically increase, and thereby decreasing the total duration of work hours by 30 hours/week but increasing the productivity by 200%. There's an exciting, lucrative, as well as a competitive world that awaits the upcoming graduates in the realm of digital careers. As the demand for digital professionals continues to rise, the opportunities for working professionals is endless and the right skills open up a career trajectory that is both satisfying, and exciting. Global digitalization will set its roots in every sector imaginable and so no matter what major you are doing, exposure to digital world is inevitable. This means that there are endless opportunities to graduates of all streams. As many industries continue to undergo their digital transfmation, new jobs and their associated skills will continue to be created. Today's students are gravitating towards exciting new fields with a world of opportunity awaiting them and require learning opportunities to upskill and progress. Defense, Mass Production sectors, Aeronautical, Nano and Micro Technology, Medical Field, Automation in day-to-day life are some of the few notable fields that are advancing with the help of digitalization

Disclaimer

The views expressed in the article above are collected from various sources on the Internet and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the college.