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Try internships, for jobs

Placements had not yet started at Jadavpur University (JU) when mechanical engineering student Kaustav Das bagged a job with Tata Steel. His colleague Saurav Basu was still in his third year at Bengal Engineering and Science University (Besu), Shibpur, when he was recruited. And this in a state in which many fresh engineers find it difficult to bag their dream job.

The secret of their success? An internship. Both Das and Basu interned with the steel giant while still in their third year. Impressed by their performance, Tata Steel hired them.

“Internship brings practical exposure, which helps students link theory with practice. It also provides critical soft skills training. Students gain experience and acquaintance with the latest technology, thereby becoming industry ready,” says Saugat Mukherjee, regional director, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). CII conducted a skills gap study for West Bengal recently and found that there was an urgent need to supplement the theory taught in engineering classes with practical experience.

Agrees Basu, “Whatever we are taught is theoretical and of little practical value. The industrial training that I got exposed me to the problems faced every day. After that I was evaluated as an outstanding candidate among all the interns and offered a job,” he says. The perks of an internship!

Tata Steel offers summer internships to about 60 engineering students from institutes such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Besu, JU and the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad. Each of them is assigned a project during the two months of internship. They are rated on the basis of their performance and pre-placement offers follow.

Information technology companies such as Oracle, Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Acclaris too absorb promising interns.

“Every year we take in about 10 to 11 interns out of whom five or six are offered a job,” says Kalyan Kar, managing director, Acclaris India. “This year we absorbed three interns for our IT department,” adds Kar.

“The main thing that a prospective employer looks for apart from skills is punctuality,” says Siddhartha Bhattacharya, officer of placement and training, JU. Companies see internships as a way of sussing out potential. That is why they are keen to take in interns.

This trend is more pronounced in the engineering field and institutes such as the IITs, JU and Besu are taking advantage of the firms’ interest to help students overcome the skills gap.

During summer vacations after their third year, engineering students go for industry training that lasts between 30 and 45 days. Not only do they get a handsome amount as stipend but they can even end up with a pre-placement offer.

Take JU’s Das. He got a stipend of Rs 22,000 a month. Basu, who now works as a manager at the integrated electrical maintenance division, mills and utility, at Tata Steel, was paid Rs 10,000 a month during his internship and Rs 2,500 a month throughout his fourth year.

Says Manas Sanyal of Besu, “Many including the Tata Group, Larsen & Toubro, Intera Systems, Oracle, TCS, the Pune-based Belgian company Bekaert, Texas Instruments and Cognizant Technologies, look for and take interns from our university. And most of them end up with a job.”

That is precisely why even tier-II engineering institutes are sending students for internship to reputed companies. Institutes such as the city-based Institute of Engineering and Management (IEM) and the Techno India Group are all praise for students who land lucrative job offers after successful internships.

“All our students go for internship, but the number recruited from there is not very high. Our campus placement is our major strength,” says Anit Adhikari of the Techno India Group. Both core (that is, civil, mechanical and electrical) and non-core (electronic and software) engineering students go for internships but the number is higher for core streams. The companies that usually take in interns from this institute include Microsoft, Interra Systems, Bengal Beverage, CESC, Steel Authority of India, Emami, Chembiotek, Protechsoft and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd.

Summer internships are compulsory for computer science engineering (CSE) and information technology (IT) students of IEM but optional for electrical and civil engineering students. “Generally most students opt for these summer projects to get hands-on training. A large number of them do get offers after completing their internship,” says Gopa Goswami, who’s in charge of corporate relations and the placement cell, IEM. Every year about 220-240 students intern at such organisations as Microsoft, TCS, Cognizant, CESC, Tata Communications, Sankalp Semi Conductor, iVIZ Technologies, Cranes Software, HP, CMC Ltd and Dynamic Digital. Around 35-40 per cent of them received pre-placement offers this year.

“Every year TCS recruits about 50 to 60 interns in the eastern region,” says R.N. Lahiri, principal consultant, TCS. “Interns from A+ institutes such as the IITs are given first preference. Those from A category institutes such as JU and Besu are given high ratings too. We also recruit from B category institutes that fall under the West Bengal University of Technology. Practical exposure and software development life cycle (SDLC), which is a part of software engineering, are the two main things that we ensure these interns have, since we are a process-oriented company,” adds Lahiri.

So if you want a hard-to-get job in your dream company inveigle them into taking you on as an intern. And prepare to sweep them off their feet with your professionalism.

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