Campus hiring is grabbing the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. First, we heard about firms delaying onboarding of fresh hires, then we heard that companies, including the likes of Infosys and Tech Mahindra were revoking the job offers made on campus. Now, Wipro has cut the annual pay of ₹6.5 lakh it had promised freshers to ₹3.5 lakh per annum.

Placement directors at several campuses say they are monitoring the news closely. As Prof B Saravanan, who heads placements at Sona College of Technology, Salem, says, “IT firms are slowing down the fresher hiring process.” He says that several tech companies that normally pay stipends to interns hired from campuses are now not doing so. While the commitments made to Sona students in the 2022 hiring round have been kept, he says 2023 hiring has been put on hold by many companies.

Bhishm Chugani, Director - Career Services at SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, says that so far the institute has not seen a reduction in the number of companies seen on campus, though the nature of offers may have changed. For instance, consulting and tech firms are not hiring so much for foreign projects, though they continue to hire for projects in India. In a few cases, there has been a postponement in onboarding.

Is there a case for a change in the way both students and companies look at campus offers? Back in 2016, when a wave of start-ups did not honour their campus job offers, the IITs had blacklisted 31 companies, and there was a lot of soul-searching about placements. But then the good times returned, and campuses were back to competing with each other to see whose student grabbed the highest salary offer.

It’s all about the Money

As both Saravanan and Chugani say, it’s the money that a student looks at while evaluating offers. Or the big brands. Here the big volume hirers like TCS, Accenture, et al, are a natural draw. “Only a few students look at career paths or new tech experience,” says Saravanan, describing how the few that do join smaller product firms that are into new technology like, say, blockchain tend to be in a much better position a year or so later.

“As a fresher, if you only view money, and not look at training opportunities, areas of growth, average increment, career path, you will lose out later,” says Dony Kuriakose, Director, Edge, an executive search firm. “This is capability-building time and not cashing-in time,” he says bluntly.

From the company side, Kuriakose says, campus hiring has become totally commoditised. “At several companies, the whole campus hiring scene is disassociated with the other hiring teams,” he says. The emphasis is on numbers and campus hiring assumes there will be an error percentage that will get resolved during training or appraisals. “They are just running a process, forgetting that there are people in it,” he says.

Agrees Prof Saravanan that it’s the large volume hirers — those that hire 30,000-40,000 — who usually face problems with campus hires. “The SME companies that hand-pick just three or four students – we don’t see any issues with these companies later on,” he says.

Some rethinking is definitely needed by students too – but as Saravanan says, at the end of the day, the choice is often not made by them, but by their parents. “At least 20 to 30 per cent are guided by parents,” he says.