How does the placement process in the US universities
Having earned my Masters degree from Texas A&M University, College Station TX, I would like to narrate how the whole placement scenario looks like from my perspective. In my perspective the placement process is similar and different in its own ways. The fabric is the same but the design varies.
Indian Version –
Typically, placement cells in Indian universities handle the whole process. They take care of bringing the companies to the University. The companies have different levels of screening. First, based on GPA. Then they conduct a written test and filter further. Then they have several rounds of interviews namely Group discussion, HR, Technical etc. Once everything is done they declare who is selected and the list goes to the notice board for public viewing. You will be notified about the salary and benefits. Fortunately or Unfortunately, in the case of few students before they could look into their own offer letter the whole country looks into their hyped package via newspapers. Probably there will be lot more than this but this is the extent to which I know. I may be completely ignorant of recent advancements.
US Version –
I will give an account of how it takes place in Texas A&M University (TAMU). This should be more or less the same in all other universities. There is an organization at our university which is similar to Training and Placement Cell in Indian universities. It is called Career Center at TAMU. This body officially provides all the services related to student career. They do all the placement awareness, resume writing, industrial meets, career fairs and interviews etc.
Sometimes for a huge student population even a sizable body like this isn’t sufficient to handle and meet all the needs. So a student body called Student Engineering Council (SEC @ TAMU) coordinates with Career Center to arrange Engineering career fair, a big chunk of Career Center work.
You might have seen the same concept in IISC Bangalore where students do all the placement activities themselves. If I am not wrong, there was no placement cell in IISC. Career Center handles career fairs of small sizes compared to Engineering Career fair like Science Career Fair or Education Career Fair or Business Career Fair.
But then comes the question – why Career fair? what Career fair?
Unlike in India where Companies interview strangers solely based on GPA and written test, here in US, companies prefer to interact with prospective candidates. They like to advertise themselves and also like to hear from the candidates their interest and expertise.
So the last Fall’14 , SEC organized one of the Nation’s biggest Career fairs – attended by 8500 students, 1500 recruiters and 430 companies. It was a 3 day event. First day we had golf and professional dinner where we could socialize with the company representatives. Then the next two days all the companies established their booths with free stuff and goodies ready for students at sharply 8:00 in the morning.
Students, in their professional attire, line up for the big day. This was the line when I was there by 7:55 am –
When we enter the place we were provided with glue paper for name tags. So we stick them to make it easy for the recruiters to identify us easily on the first introduction despite our diverse names.
We then carry our resume to the companies which we like to work for. Believe me there is a lot of homework to be done to shortlist from 430 companies. Students can hardly attend 25 company booths in a day. We go to the booth having researched all about the company and see if the recruiter is available to interact with. If there is a person before us, we either wait for our turn or go for other company in the mean time.
The companies try to advertise while students try to sell themselves. If the recruiter finds the student as potential talent which the company needs to hire, he/she gives the business card and retains the resume for future reference. Once this is over the immediate evening students have to email the recruiter about their meeting. On the other hand recruiter looks into the resume pile and hand picks suitable candidates for the interview. Cross reference between the emails and resumes fetch an interview. This may be on campus or on site depending on the company’s feasibility. While few companies interview on campus in the Career Center buildings, few call the candidates on site. Few companies don’t even wait for the emails. By the end of the day they call the candidates for interviews. Few don’t even wait till the end of the day – they interview on the spot. It really depends on the company interview culture and recruiters way of screening.
While this is all happening, students also apply online. They grow their professional network on LinkedIn and get interviewed. There are different ways to get a job. Everything depends on how you sell yourself. But one thing I observed here is that the student grows into a complete professional by the time he/she accepts an offer. It is a student’s responsibility to search for companies, know about it, interact with representative, grow network, request for an interview, negotiate salary and accept the offer. Bit better exposure compared to Indian universities.
But one thing common everywhere (India or US) is that the world out there is bloody. Be prepared you are not alone. So get ready to face thousands like you.