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Expert Suggestions on Preparation for Computer Based CAT-09

Summer Placements at IIM-A

- by Vinamra Srivastava *

It's been long since I have written. But life has been on a super highway this term. And thankfully, it's not really the studies that have consumed most of our time so far.

Summer Placements and Confluence were the two BIG things that have happened and I will share my thoughts on both in two separate posts.

The run up to the summer placements had started long back. The companies had been coming on campus in hordes to give presentations and most of our time was spent in either attending the pots or filling up the company forms. The seniors had been emphasizing the importance of summers since the time we joined WIMWI and I could see now why. It's perceived to be a BIG thing on campus and it's very tough not to get caught in its aura. I firmly believe that in the long run it's ultimately the kind of work you are doing that matters but summers provide you a good platform and that's the reason their importance increases.

The mid terms got over, and within the next three days, the placements were going to start! It looked so weird. The entire campus was back to books even when the exams were over, the tension was palpable. The shortlists kept on coming and the only topic of discussion when people met each other were the number of shortlists they had received. The Investment-Banks and the Consults are the BIG companies for whom the first day of placements, Day Zero, is reserved, and everyone was eager to get as many Day Zero shortlists as possible.

Just a night before the D-Day, the dorm tuchchas called us dorm fachchas together. It was a morale boosting session and they tried their best to soothe our nerves. But everyone knew the stakes were high and we all knew how tiring the next few days could get, running around from one interview panel to the other.

The placement committee (comprising of only tuchchas) had given us presentations about how the entire placement process is going to run. This was going to be operationally a HUGE task. More than 250 students... more than 60-70 companies... all different interviews going on simultaneously... I had realized this would be tough to manage but had no idea it would be so so phenomenal till we all landed at the assigned destination on the D-Day, 7.00 am in the morning, all decked up in suits.

The sight that greeted me was enough to make the fachchas go weak in the knees. There was a real huge banner (many stories tall) that read, "PLACEMENTS 2007, IIM-A," which greeted everyone. We all entered into something known as the fachcha pool. This is nothing but a common room where all the fachcahs would be accommodated for the entire day and every person would go for his interview from there and come back there itself after the interview.


The fachcha pool was a sight in itself. There was a big control desk with phones ringing everywhere. There were walkie-talkies all around. Computers tracking every individual. The placecom members and some tuchchas volunteers roamed all around with their walkies, speaking agitatedly and appraising one another of the current status of the situation.

Each company was given few rooms to conduct the interviews and was assigned a PR. The PRs, the placecom, the volunteers, the control desk... everybody worked in sync using the walkies to ensure that the show runs smoothly. The placecom had worked mighty hard for the past few days. In fact, they had put up beddings in the placecom control room itself and would sleep there only. Since each student had multiple interviews, it was very essential to keep track of every person at any time to direct him/her to various interviews. With so many companies conducting interviews at the same time, it was operationally a COLOSSAL requirement but the placecom were upto the challenge and were eager to make this thing a success.

After gaining our breath back, we all made ourselves comfortable in the fachcha pool. Apart from the control desk, all the notice boards in the room were stacked with the profiles of all the companies that were conducting interviews that day, for a ready last minute reference by the candidates going for the interviews. There was a food stall whose coupons were available in abundance. There was everything you could ask for to be comfortable and prepared for an interview.

And then, it finally started!!! The walkie crackled... the first company had asked four candidates to precede to the interview room. And lo and behold!!! I was one of them. Right upfront, 7.00 am in the morning, very first interviews of the placement process... Within no time I was sitting in a comfy room, waiting for my interviewer. I am not going into the details of my interview here but all I can say is that I was selected by the company and that's where I am heading for my summers.

The day started on a great note for the batch as offers kept on pouring right in since the morning. There were smiling faces as people came back to the fachcha pool from their interviews, and as the day progressed, we knew that our batch is indeed going to have a rocking placement.

And as the day progressed, we also got to see the great placement process machinery live in action. The walkies were always in action, cracking with instructions, names of candidates and an odd joke in midst of everything to keep calm things down. The efficiency with which the tuchchas worked amazed me and I could not help being awe-stuck by the effective implementation of such a complicated process. These are the things that make this place the best and I could get a first-hand experience of the same. Every small detail, every small requirement of companies were well thought of and things flowed smoothly.

The day ended with the OOPSing out ceremony. OOPS stands for Opting Out of Placement System. Every candidate is called to the placement control room and is told all the offers he has had. He chooses one of them and then OOPSes out of the placements. He, thus, is officially placed, and is not allowed to attend any further interviews.

He signs the form and is not supposed to go back to the fachcha pool... heads straight to the dorm! 

All those who had been placed automatically become volunteers and help out in executing this elaborate process for the next few days till the entire batch gets placed. This was the time when we fachchas got a first-hand experience of handling the affairs. I was on the control desk on one day and was the PR of a compnay another day. And I can vouch for the fact that the entire experience was awesome. To be the nerve centre of so many activates, it was multi-tasking at its peak. The entire placement process of Day Zero was replicated in the next few days till everyone got placed. At the end of each day, the night was spent in getting the system ready again for the next day's work. Volunteers and placecom worked days and nights together to ensure that the entire event is as smooth as possible. And they sure did an awesome job of it!!!

The placement week was one of the most hectic after perhaps the T-Nites. But it was an equally huge learning experience for everyone. Be it running from room to room attending myriad interviews or slogging the entire night getting the logistics ready or handling the ire of companies when they do not get enough candidates to interview during certain times... It was all something that will stay with me for long!

The placecom rocked, so did the volunteers and so did the entire batch for producing one of the greatest summer placements this institute has ever witnessed.

And I just sit back and go down the memory lane... those were the times when my group struggled to find a company that would give us a summer project during engineering days... our resumes were presented in perhaps every IT company in Pune... and finally after two months, we managed to get one project...

And here I am... witnessing companies fighting over to get students... and that too companies which are the world leaders in their fields... Students making choices of whether to go to London or Hong Kong!

Times change... but everything comes at a price... So to all those reading in the papers about the awesome placements these WIMWI graduates are getting and thinking how easy it is to get into the best companies once you are in IIM-A, they do not realize the tremendous stress, effort, hard work that goes into surviving at this place.

I guess in the long run, summers or no summers, if you do not enjoy what you are doing, no amount of salary will make you happy. And if you love your work, money not only ceases to be the sole motivator, it also becomes an automatic outcome of whatever you do.

The pressure of getting placed on Day Zero is immense here. It becomes an ego issue at times and I wish I could tell everyone who falls into this trap the words of Mother Teresa that read like this: -

"In the final analysis, it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway."

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