Future of Campus Placements post COVID-19 Lockdown

Dr.Rajkumar holds more than 21 years of experience in campus placements. He has done his research(PhD)in campus placements and has published many papers on campus placements in International, National Journals and magazines

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, students and parents who are the stakeholders 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.

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

Institution Perspective
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 prefinal 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 professional trainers and alumni 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. Institutions should not wait till the lockdown to get over or the colleges to reopen. 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, Go to webinar, Zoom and others to form virtual class room for aptitude, programming training, groups for Group discussion training. The key here is to make the students more attentive and interactive during the training, as class control becomes an issue as it is in online mode.

Institutions will have at least one faculty coordinator to be part of the training in each virtual class room to monitor the trainer’s performance, student’s behaviour and also to address the technical glitches during the training.

The class room training should be supplemented by practice tests conducted periodically in the online platforms. Online interviews differ from the conventional in person interviews. Institutions should now focus on giving training to students in attending virtual or online interviews by conducting more number of mock online interviews before they start facing the company interviews.

Previously, based on the eligibility criteria prescribed by the companies, the college placement offices register the students manually or through Google docs, ask them to email their CVs and share it with the recruiters. After COVID-19, the placement offices should use placement portals which enable the students to register their academic credentials, upload their CVs and the placement offices may share the same with the recruiters in no time. Institutions should ensure that the students have an account for Teams, Zoom, GoTo webinar, Skype and others, as the tools used by the recruiters may vary.

Institutions should invest in Digital infrastructure for conducting online selection process. Even after the lock down, many companies may prefer a remote selection process. It is important that institutions should have more number of laptops/computers for the tests so as to maintain social distancing. Corporate accounts with Microsoft teams, Skype, GoTo webinar and others, and strong internet connectivity in the campus and hostels should be provided by the institutions.

Students Perspective
When the campus placement season starts, the competition is going to be high, companies may be conservative in hiring fresher’s this year, some of them may not even hire.

Students should use this lock down period for adding value to their CVs. Doing some online industry certifications would add a lot of value during the recruitment process. Many companies like Microsoft, Oracle, TCS IoN, AWS and others, are offering free online certification courses or offering at discounted prices. Doing a remote internship with a startup during the lockdown would be the best preparation for campus recruitments. All the companies tend to look for students who have the self –learning quotient. Brushing the subject fundamentals would be the key to crack the technical interviews.

Preparing for the online interviews also becomes important. Unlike the conventional interviews, the students have to cope with the technical glitches and poor internet connectivity during the interview process. This may hamper the flow of the interview process. Anxiety and nervousness may creep in during the online interviews. Students should practice well before attending the online interviews.

Industry Perspective
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. Online interviews for the short listed students may be conducted through teams, videoconferencing, Skype and others.

The placement offices have to be trained to coordinate the entire online process as it requires meticulous and continuous coordination in organising online recruitments. Institutions should ensure that the placement offices are equipped with the latest technology tools for online interactions and also uninterrupted internet connectivity.

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.

Companies should give some leverage during the online interview process as the students may find it difficult attending a virtual process. Poor internet connectivity also may hamper the interviews. Avoiding the malpractice during the online tests to the fullest extent may be a challenge.

Parent’s perspective
Unlike other countries, Indian parents decide the career options for their kids. Though they consider infrastructure, faculty, hostel as parameters while admitting their children in an Engineering Institution, campus placements are given the utmost importance while choosing the college.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, the parents should motivate their children to focus on preparing for campus recruitment preparation, doing industry certifications, remote internships and others. They should give lots of hope that they would get placed in good companies if they had prepared well. As the opportunities are going to be limited this year through campus recruitments, they should educate the children that they should not be choosy and should grab all the possible opportunities.

Job Offers through Campus Placements for 2021 Graduating Batch
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.

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.

This year’s campus season would pose lot of challenges to all the stake holders. Institutions that build digital infrastructure and that have a proactive placement office, would have the maximum number of students getting placed through campus recruitments. Students who have used this lock down period in getting prepared for the campus recruitments by attending training and who have done industry certifications would land up in big companies with fat pay packets. Companies that use the online technology tools to the fullest would end up getting the brightest of minds from the campuses.