I know this has been a while coming but to me it made sense get a complete hang of the how the crisis is going to unfold and its implications before venturing an opinion. By now I have received enough and more queries to know what the major & minor concerns and the main decision-making conundrums are. So, let’s jump right in.
Placements — It is all about the economy!
The first and immediate concern is the summer placements — they usually happen right at the end of the first trimester will that be happening, will they be delayed, or will they not happen at all.
Well, they might be delayed a bit for since the start itself has been delayed and whether the quality will suffer or not depends completely on the economy.
From all the sources the news in the short-term is not looking good at all. The period from now till mid or late next year is going to be a pretty rough ride. Internationally, another financial sector crisis like the sub-prime crisis is looming and unless there is a bailout the signs are ominous. So yeah, summer placements are going to be badly affected.
But given that the conditions are anything from normal, a below par summer-placement will not adversely affect your resume since everyone will be more or less sailing in the same boat. This prognosis has nothing to do with the lockdown since work-from-home is now more or less a standard practice.
But when it comes to final placements the predictions seem more sanguine, at least based on the survey of the CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies.
On the most important parameters — economic activity and capital expenditure — more than 3/4th predict that by 2022 will be the year things will bounce back.
So the placements for those graduating in 2022 placements should not be a major worry.
Which schools are safe?
Most of the queries that I am getting are revolving around which schools are absolutely safe and which ones are a risky bet. Well, it does not quite pan out that way.
What happens when the economy is good?
Firms hire in large numbers and things can get so desperate between firms during placements that some might even decide to drop entire rounds so that they at least get the candidates who have cleared the rounds so far, lest they join competitors.
It goes without saying that in such a situation many people end up getting their dream jobs or may be even jobs beyond their dreams and many otherwise solid firms go back empty-handed.
What happens when the economy is bad?
Firms hire in fewer numbers than usual and run a really fine-toothed comb through the candidates (both through resumes and during the interviews).
Otherwise sure-shot candidates for a job might lose out on their dream roles because the firm is recruiting in fewer numbers and at the other end many mid-sized and even super-small firms get a chance to recruit from the topmost firms (IMS was invited and went to recruit from IIM-A in 2009, the subprime crisis hit in 2008).
In that sense all the top-schools — Old IIMs, MDI, NITIE, FMS, XL, SPJIMR, IIFT-D, NMIMS, SIBM, SCMHRD, XIM-B, MICA, TISS, IITs, new IIMs, are more or less in the same bracket — one school is no safer than the other — a bulk of each school’s usual recruiters will turn up but recruit in fewer numbers, and a few new firms will get a chance to be a part of placements.
If you are likely to be in the top 100 profiles of your batch in any of the top 30 schools, you are very safe.
A bad placement in a crisis year does not sound a death knell to your career
Rewinding back to 2009, the IMS office was swarming with MBAs from the old IIMs, NM, and other schools but within two years all of them moved on to their preferred jobs, and are now working with firms such as Amazon (remember graduating in 2009 is like graduating in 2021 not 2022).
What you have to realise is that given the 10-year boom & busts cycles in businesses, every trough is followed by a crest and the net demand for MBAs evens out.
Top firms recruit throughout the year and not just during campus placements. So they will not wait for campus placements to come around when the economy picks up, they will recruit people off-campus and later pick up people from campus too.
Won’t an online trimester dilute the experience?
Yes, an online trimester will dilute the experience but this is an exceptional year and this is a problem that affects not just you but every single candidate with an admit from Harvard as well and other life situations as well — I am sure people have had weddings over the past few months that are far different from what they imagined it would be like!
So yeah, it is not perfect but it is not a deal-breaker.
The real question is should they reduce the fee in the event of one of the trimesters being online — YES — will they — NO.
Should you consider deferring to take another shot
The only reason to defer is if you want to be absolutely certain without an iota of doubt about the health of the economy when you are graduating. In that case, graduating in 2023 will be the safest option.
Freshers and those who have less than 2 years of work experience and a good job in hand can consider deferring their admit if you feel you want the safety of graduating in 2023.
Those with more than 2 years of work-ex will end up going in with 3 to 4 years of work-ex, which is slightly on the higher side when compared to the mean of 22-24 months. So you are better off joining right now when your work-ex is in the sweet spot for Indian 2-year programs.
The things to read before considering quitting and/or retake
The pandemic and the fears around it can lead you to consider options that you would not have considered before — quitting your job and retaking, retaking for A-B-C etc.
Quitting your job is not a deal-breaker but you need to know the ramifications and the things you need to do if you quit — https://thecatwriter.com/2017/03/10/should-i-my-job-to-prepare-for-cat/
Retaking should also be done by asking yourself the right questions; you must not retake because of fear of the pandemic, you should ask the right questions as if it were a normal year — https://thecatwriter.com/2020/02/17/to-re-take-or-not-to-re-take-the-cat-3/
Retaking for the A-B-C or nothing is not worth it at all except in a very narrow range of cases, I will do a post on that soon. The biggest thing about a retake as you would know is your ability to nail the test again.
The next year will test everyone — professionals, businesses, governments, labourers, economists — and the people who will succeed are those who can keep a calm head about themselves, do the best they can, not panic, and stay patient — exactly what you need to do when you run into rough weather, whether on sea or up in the air because as of now everything is truly up in the air.