Location: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India

What I say today is what mohammad ali said once , "It is very hard to be humble when you are as great as me". Lest people may be mistaken I am not into boxing. and therefore I resist from praising myself :)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Give me a job ?

The following post was written a day before the IIIT placement season began. Blogger was not working :) and hence am posting it now. Well the fact is that I did not want to count my chickens before they hatch

The past semester was one of the most seminal periods in my life. I encounterd many interesting incidents ... the learnings from which would hopefully stand by me for a long time to come. I'd deal with each of these experiences in the coming posts. The first of them is my early interaction with the IIIT placement system. On the eve of placements it is apt to recall a few thoughts.

Our batch was subject to many experiments. Beginning with the admission process, the 'experimental' zeal of the institute finally (actually it was not final, the strict and sometimes irrational Final Year Project guidelines were the next step but that is another story altogether)led to a radically new placements process. Usually campus placements take place early on in the final year at any place in the country (world ??). This has its own advantages as people with varied ideas about their future can have a safety net first and then pursue their areas of interest. A more useful reason was given by a senior of mine. She said that having early placements enables the students to take courses in those areas of work which they are likely to do in the firm concerned. This particular female was placed in Oracle in July (guess 2003, not sure), and she had a whole year to take database courses (the area Oracle chiefly works in).

However as with everything there is the other side of the coin. Students began to misuse the leeway that an early job gave them. Those who have been working on projects as if their lives depended on them suddenly felt relieved and became somewhat arrogant. Guys who were not sure of their own future till the previous day began to give homilies on life and planning and other such stuff. The acme of intolerance was reached when some highly regarded students got F grades in their courses. Of course this was because of the attendance rule (we start losing grades for ever 10 percentage points decrease in attendance starting from 85%) but an F nevertheless. There is something seriously wrong if a student cannot find time to attend 65% (below which an F is given) of the classes .All this led the faculty to believe that having early placements is harmful and is better done away with. With the IITs also having a similar policy, the faculty argument got strengthened. And a prolonged fight by the students was in vain and it was decided to have placements in December.

The problem I have here is with the reason given. There are certainly better ways to control the students' academics. And the faculty is renowned for their innovation in the field of comp science. An innovative approach here would have done them no harm at all. It is a fact that students all over the world (including the meccas like MIT and Stanford) are relatively less motivated in their final year of study. This is neither preventing them from better achievements in latter life nor affecting the reputation of the colleges. To its credit IIIT has reduced the credit requirement to 12 credits in the final semester (whcih is two courses at max apart from the mandatory Major project). But the institute should understand that insecurity among students is very high (most of it is not justified but it is present nevertheless). And comparison with IITs only aggravates the situation. We have definitely come a long way since 1998 but we still we have a much longer way to go before any comparison with the IITs.

Of course all my arguments will come to a nought if the quality of the FYPs really improves a lot and I hope that it happens. A recent innovative development has been made in the form of B-Tech projects for the third years which will ensure more free time in the final year at the same time FYPs of a better quality. Time to do whatever you want and even goof off (two courses in the final semester, that will be 6 hrs per week. If they plan well the courses can be fitted into two days which means that the weekend and weekday period are exchanged. wow !!! that is some free time).

I am not a suggestion giving person (unless asked for and even then it is more of a friendly advice). But I'd like to say to insecure IIITians that we are among the best in the country. We would be getting jobs even in a depressing economy and these are boom times. Our institute has prepared us well. We also have a highly capable Placement officer in the form of Mrs. Padmaja. There are processes in place to ensure that no one is left out. The placement committee (Priyanshu, Vamsee, Srujan etc)are working their butts off. The onus is on us however to ensure that we choose the best of what we are offered and have an idea of what we are capable of. TCS is due tomorrow evening and I wish all my friends appearing for it the very best.


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