Rajesh Anam completed his MBA from a Mumbai-based business school earlier this year. But even before he could get his degree, he had an offer letter from a leading digital marketing company. Just when Anam believed he had secured his future, Covid-19 brought the economy to a halt. Several businesses shut down as a consequence of the prolonged lockdown and many were stranded without jobs. A multitude of businesses were also unable to honour their hiring commitments on campuses across the country, since they were grappling with survival issues. Anam’s employer also sent him a polite regret letter saying the company won’t be able to honour its commitment of hiring him. “I don’t have a grouse against them since most of their clients are in travel, hospitality and retail sectors, which completely shut down during the lockdown,” says Anam.
Business schools across the country have similar stories of companies that were not able to either honour their hiring commitments or pushed joining dates of management trainees by a few months. “Companies such as Uber backed out, while Udaan did not honour its summer internship commitment. It did hire management trainees it had committed to hire. Reliance Industries on-boarded candidates at a much lesser compensation package,” says Upasana Bagchi (name changed on request), an alumni of XLRI Jamshedpur. At many of the leading IIMs, a number of banks and consulting companies backed out of summer internship commitments. “Students who had received offers from these organisations were told that they couldn’t find a way to offer them virtual internships,” says a second-year student at one of the top-rung IIMs.
The good news, however, is that most of the students in the top-rung business schools did manage to get new placement offers. “We lost one-third of summer internship offers as organisations told us they won’t be able to do justice with our students. However, we did manage to get them alternate placements,” says Professor Janat Shah, Director, IIM Udaipur. From Axis Bank to Mondelez India, a host of companies have on-boarded B-School students who lost out due to the pandemic. R. Mahalakshmi, Head, HR India, Mondelez India, says the company increased its summer intern intake by 25 per cent this year. “We looked at the pandemic and the slowdown thereof as an opportunity to strengthen our talent pipeline,” adds Rajkamal Vempati, Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO), Axis Bank.
One of the first things that consulting company Deloitte did as soon as the pandemic broke out, says, S.V. Nathan, Partner and CHRO, was to make sure it contacted every single candidate and let them know that Deloitte would honour their commitments to them. “Deloitte has honoured and will continue to honour every single offer made on campus. We have been in regular touch with selected candidates to reconfirm our commitments, in cases where joining dates had to be staggered,” he adds.
Though students from top-rung campuses managed to get placed, those from Tier-II or Tier-III campuses have had some disappointments. “A vast majority of students are finding it difficult to get placed,” says Akhil Shahani, Managing Director, The Shahani Group, Director, Thadomal Shahani Centre for Management (TSCFM, and CEO, Ask.CAREERS.)