In March 2020, when students left the campus, they thought they would be back in 2 weeks; but it has almost been a year and a half now. Since then, an entire batch of students graduated, a new batch joined (but are yet to see their campus), and several college activities, fests, and an internship, as well as a placement season, were conducted online. As it appears we are set for yet another online season, we figured it would be a good time to contrast and compare the online season with the offline seasons.
How did the internship team cope with the sudden change?
Like most college teams, the internship team too faced several challenges due to the shift online, not the least of which was that several core companies that had promised internships to students during the 2019 season were unable to deliver due to the lockdown covid restrictions. Therefore, the internship team made it their priority to ensure these students are able to intern during the summer. Bridging the communication gap within the team as well as between the team and the companies were other challenges that resulted in the delay at the beginning of the internship season. Be that as it may, despite being thrown into the deep end, they were able to attract several good companies, with a record number of Day 1 offers, and ensure that the process went smoothly.
What about the number of companies and their offers?
One would expect that due to the shift online, there might have been a negative impact on the number of offers. However, according to Shaloo Vardhini, the current Student Head of the internship team, the trend of the year-on-year increase in the number of offers continued. But there was a significant change in the type of offers. While there were many core engineering internships on offer in the previous years, due to the uncertainty regarding the pandemic, core companies (which expect their interns to work on-ground) were hesitant to offer internships.
Nonetheless, this was more than made up for by newer companies that the internship team brought in. There was an uptick in the number of start-ups (mainly ed-tech and healthcare-related) offering internships. While several of the newer companies offered coding/CS-related internships, these were generally open to all branches.
Did the selection process see any changes?
The selection process itself saw no significant changes (except that everything was happening online, of course). CGPA cut-offs were similar to previous years. Though the method of proctoring varied from company to company or the tests (some used proctoring software while others had a simple Google meet), the difficulty of the tests remained the same. Invigilation for these tests was different, as the internship team was unable to monitor all candidates at all times. Shaloo hopes that candidates do not try to beat the system because if caught, not only would it be detrimental to their chances, but also disrepute the institution as a whole.
Raj Jain, an IDDD student from the 2017 batch who applied for internships in both 2019 and 2020, felt that the interview durations were shorter in the online year. He suggested that due to the various distractions accompanying any online meeting, be it internet issues or background noise, a good approach would be to give direct and to-the-point responses to questions asked. Many companies opted to go for a “group interview”, where a group of shortlisted candidates were interviewed together instead of a group discussion.
How were the students affected?
Due to the online nature of interviews and tests, students saved the time they would have otherwise spent on travelling from one place to another on campus. This allowed students to apply to more companies. Several students who preferred core internships also looked for off-campus opportunities.
Raj felt that there was a significant communication gap between the companies and the students compared to previous years. There were several instances in which students were informed of being shortlisted just hours before their interview.
An obvious concern in any online setting is access to high-speed internet, or the lack thereof. The institute, led by the Dean of Students, tried its best to ensure no student loses out due to this by providing financial aid to students, among other measures. Companies, too, were generally accommodative if any candidate had a sudden loss of connectivity.
What can we expect this year?
Both Shaloo and Raj agree that being the first completely online internship season, there were several shortcomings. However, Raj says that given the situation, the internship team did an excellent job to ensure that a large number of people were offered internships. The internship team aims to learn from last year and improve the process for the coming season.
Firstly, the team aims to bring in more companies to meet the surge in the number of students. For the first time last year, Jane Street, an international quantitative trading company offered internships posted in Hong Kong with a package of 12 lakhs. The team aims to attract more such companies this year. They also aim to invite companies providing a range of profiles to give students a more comprehensive choice so that no student has to look for off-campus opportunities for a profile of their choice. In addition, they seek to bring back the core companies that had not offered internships in 2020.
The team is also attempting to bridge the communication gap between them and the students by holding introductory sessions and creating WhatsApp groups and FAQ documents. This is being done to ensure students are more aware of the process and that their concerns and questions are answered quickly and efficiently, as opposed to last year.
Written by Sushanth Shenoy & Rhea Abu