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BW Businessworld

When The Tough Gets Going...

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It is in times like these that one begins to wonder if they should have done things a little differently. The decision of joining a B-school doesn't necessarily seem the best one right now. I don't need to go into the details of what has occurred over the past couple of months to explain what I am talking about. The problem, according to me, began with the US. It's always the US somehow, isn't it? Unfortunately though, this time even blaming them is not making anyone feel any better.
 
Foreign placement is no longer the buzz word on the campus; in fact, people prefer working in India now. Job stability is scoring over dollar salaries. This onset of a global economic slowdown is seriously not the best time to be graduating from a B-school. If the past years' trend hadn't been that of sky rocketing extremes in terms of brand names, pay packages and profiles – believing that a job would be offered to us on the proverbial platter – people would have been content with what they are getting now. It is the speed of the change and sudden difference that is disconcerting.
 
Last year it was all about the company, the brand name and the package. This year, our placement cell tells us to be more considerate towards offers that are coming to campus. Put simply, 'get realistic'. And I guess it pays to be pragmatic. I see students being more attentive in the pre-placement talks than ever before, taking things a little more seriously and being so much more prepared.
 
There is not an absolute lack of good news though. There have been the usual number of PPOs (pre-placement offers) and PPIs (pre-placement interviews) pouring from the summer internships of our batch. Lots of people are already sitting on cushy jobs. A pay package of Rs 12 lakh per annum is not uncommon right now. Great brands are here and ready; no dearth of smiling faces either, albeit with a barrage of placement related jokes flying around. It is just the mood that has been taking a beating.
 
The global meltdown has definitely led to uncertainty all around. That is what we see around us, what we read in the news and also what corporate executives are saying. No one knows where things are headed in terms of the market. The safety net is pretty much in tatters. And therefore, everyone's got a contingency plan or two. People are pulling out all stops to develop their crisis management skills and using them in all aspects of this placement scenario. Adaptation and cultivation of new skills are the mantras. Some people are willing to accept a profile they had not even given consideration to earlier. Times have changed for sure.
 
Corridors and classrooms are perpetually buzzing with discussions on the issue. While someone is wondering whether similar colleges are suffering in the same way, others are talking of plans for further studies, like getting another MBA degree, just to get away from this mess. There are debates on what we should do next, as a student body and as individuals. People have unhappy status messages on GTalk and are talking of joining family businesses. People who have taken student loans for their college fee are in a state of panic. Plans are being re-worked and perspectives are surely changing into something else.
 
But keeping aside all this talk and preparation (I guess it helps that I will always remain an optimist) I firmly believe, and so do almost all my batch-mates — despite all the signals, which expectedly point to the contrary — that it will all end well. One thing's for sure — no matter how bad the scene gets, no one will resort to accepting a substandard job profile or compromise on their ideals and beliefs. People here are determined and strong. Everyone is changing and moulding themselves to get better equipped for this new situation. Everyone knows what they want and will try their level best to get it. This year just the job profile is the focus, and that it will be.
 
There is always a positive side to any dark time and this is it for us. Everyone is charged to do well and they are working harder than ever. Friends are helping friends to find calm under pressure. CV-making is now a joint exercise and everyone is lending a helping hand. But then, bad times do bring out the best in everyone and everything, don't they?

Ishani Behari is in IInd year pursuing MBA (Marketing) from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai