An IIT degree guarantees a good salary, right? Error

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However, the reality was crushing. “A salary of 6 lakh was offered for my specialization,” Faridi said TUSEN. With the loan suddenly looming over his head, he opted to join a coaching institute in Kolkata. “I was offered 10-11 lakh,” he explained. Ironically, he ended up helping students to prepare for the IIT Joint Entrance Examination (JEE).

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Graphic: TUSEN

Himanshu Khandelwal, a graduate of IIT Hyderabad, who won a scholarship to study at the institute, slightly outperformed Faridi. He got one 8 lakh offered by Vedanta and worked in one of its subsidiaries till 2022. Today, the 27-year-old mechanical engineer from Jaipur works as a consultant for a Japanese company.

Faridi and Khandelwal epitomize the relative challenges many IIT students face. While the crore-plus salaries paid by investment banks, high frequency trading (HFT) firms and quant firms are highlighted in the performance letters of the institutes –TUSEN reported last month that private trading firm Jane Street Capital was offering a salary package of 4 crore plus to an IIT Kanpur student – there are many who end up in jobs that pay less than 10 lakh per year. Even those of the established IITs.

Software engineers rule

During IIT internship season, which begins December 1 each year and sometimes lasts into April, computer science students are courted by many suitors, followed by those from electronics, electricity, and the like. Civil engineering is not too hot. According to a placement officer in one of the newer IITs, chemical engineering isn’t either. Faridi testifies to this, saying that in his day a chemical engineer was not the most sought after: “The programmers and computer science students got the high salaries.”

Desperation for placement heightens when the batches need to be placed amid recessionary winds or an unprecedented disaster like the covid pandemic, when companies struggle to retain their existing employees and new hires are dropped from the plan.

Experts and IIT alumni say the wide disparities in salaries are simply a reflection of the market and the demand for certain skills. “Salaries depend on skills. And core companies often get candidates for 7-10 lakh. There are students who do not have soft skills and although they are taking courses in IITs, there is a need for more webinars and workshops,” said a chemical engineer from IIT Kanpur, who declined to be named. Students should have projects and take elective courses that help them will help build skills that meet industry needs, he added.

“There is a very broad salary spectrum for recent graduates at IITs, which is very much in line with how salaries behave in the new age/technology and R&D driven industries. The fee/CTC at IITs can vary from 8 lakh on 80 lakh per year. There are many top notch employers hiring the best talent from IITs. And yet they are not the ones paying the highest salary,” said Anshuman Das, CEO and co-founder of Careernet, a talent solutions provider. Careernet has a team that tracks IIT salaries.

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The old rules of order

The kind of IIT the graduate student comes from also plays a role. India has 23 IITs, the latest being IIT Palakkad (Kerala), IIT Dharwad (Karnataka), IIT Jammu and IIT Goa. According to Aon data, the median salary of the IIT batch was 2022 14 lakh, an increase of 7.8% over 2021. Placements for the Class of 2023 have commenced.

Students said the newer campuses are also having a hard time attracting recruiters, mainly due to fears of a global recession. “A campus recruiter can choose from an IIT Madras, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Bombay, Delhi and can even travel to nearby IITs. But those who stand at a distance are left out,” says a placement team member from IIT Kanpur.

Other top technical colleges, such as the National Institute of Technology (NIT) chain, also have companies that offer high salaries, though they may not be as high as the top IIT packages.

The salary offered to students of the lower institutes, of which there are thousands across the country, is worse. However, companies large and small even come knocking on these institutions and pick up the brightest with offers of modest salary packages. For example, large IT service providers such as Wipro, Infosys, Tata consultancy Services and HCL hire graduates from smaller technical colleges at a salary paying 4 lakh. However, their IIT offerings are much higher.

What the institutions say

We never publish that we have received 100% placement. That’s not our job,” said a senior placement officer in one of the older IITs, who declined to be named. “There are over 90 programs and they don’t all get the same focus. Some companies offer 7 lakh too.”

The placement officer said there are case study workshops, communication and resume building workshops, but students often don’t show up.

“The students have to show some interest and click on online modules. The IITs exchange notes before and after the placement season is over and we take feedback, but we never claim to give everyone a job,” the director said.

“The Office of Career Services (OCS) of IIT Delhi consistently works to provide opportunities for students to enhance their employability skills by organizing workshops, expert interactions, alumni interactions, etc.,” added Anishya Madan , Head, Career Services Office, IIT Delhi.

Faridi isn’t sure how much that would have helped. “I could have taken coding courses to get a better job, but even the classes taught by the placement cell teams wouldn’t have led to a good job,” he said. Companies that wanted programmers also looked at projects and internship profiles; a short course would not have resulted in a better placement, he stressed. After teaching IIT aspirants for five years, he is now pursuing a PhD at IIT Bombay, hoping his prospects will improve.

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“Those with a lower CGPA (cumulative grade point average – used to measure overall academic achievement in an engineering course) face a challenge as companies want more than CGPA 6,” said Jyoti Singh, who is responsible for the placements of IIT Goa. have established contacts with external parties that help prepare students for the internship season, but there are also companies that have hired for this purpose 6 lakh when we stressed 10 lakh as minimum.”

Years of preparation

The bad salaries are a bitter pill to swallow after years of preparation and a four-year engineering course. To enter the hallowed halls of an IIT, students often begin preparing from grade IX and take “coaching” classes. Kota, the mecca of coaching in India, will see around 200,000 students enter the city to train for the national entrance exams that promise to open the doors to career success: JEE Main (technical colleges) JEE Advanced (for IIT admissions) and NEET (for medical admissions).

In 2022, approximately 155,538 students appeared for JEE (Advanced). According to Joint Seat Allocation Authority 2022 data, there were a total of 16,598 seats available. Only a handful manage to get the non-reserved seats (more than 50% of the seats are reserved for candidates from the underprivileged sections of society). And even among them, there are many who wait another year and try again in the hope of getting the specialization of their choice.

Students usually have to pay between 1.2 lakh and 1.5 lakh for a year of coaching lessons. If they manage to get into an IIT, another one 6-7 lakh is the fee for a four-year program in the government-aided colleges. At least after investing 8-10 lakh in coaching and an IIT degree, a job opportunity 6 lakh leaves students struggling.

Placement rules on most engineering and B school campuses prohibit a student from participating in another company’s job interviews once he/she has received an offer. This rule forces some to give up the company of their choice, especially when the number of companies is limited and the positions offered are smaller than the number of students looking for an internship.

When Himanshu Khandelwal sat for his job interview at IIT Hyderabad in 2018, he was eager to join a government unit (PSU) as the state-owned companies had better profiles. So despite an offer from an accounting firm, he asked to be fired. “I then sat for Vedanta and got through with one Package of 8 lakh. The PSUs I would have wanted came in, but by then I had Vedanta’s offer and couldn’t sit down for those companies,” said Khandelwal.

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IIT Hyderabad stated in the placement statistics on its website that for 2021-2022, 77.29% of its students were placed; was the average salary 20.73 lakh per annum.

Ongoing placements

The newer IITs with less than 200 students in a batch are doing better, and some are working with companies to train their batches in mock interviews, resume building, etc. IIT Goa placement team told TUSEN that most of his party of 120 has been seeded. The average computer science salary is 18 lakh and for the electrical and mechanical currents 13-14 lakh at IIT Goa.

IIT Tirupati’s placements are better than last year. “This year is a dry year, but we are working harder to get students placed. Although we asked for it 10 lakh as minimum fee for recruitment from our campus, there is one company that hired 6.85 lakh,” said J Prabhu Kiran, placement officer at IIT Tirupati.

A few weeks ago, Kiran said TUSEN that 138 of the 280 students have been placed, partly because it is always easier to place computer science students. “Those from the mechanical, civil and chemical fields (90 students) also want an allowance that matches that of their classmates, who study computer science (190 students). The former are often willing to join an edtech startup, even if the profile doesn’t match, but the salary is better,” says Kiran.

The need for a higher salary than profile or skills to match leads to the edtech and startup rush. Despite the industry suffering from a funding crisis, which has resulted in nearly 20,000 layoffs, many IITans are flocking to edtechs.

The average salary of IIT Tirupati is 16 lakh from now, but Kiran warned that there will be students who will not be placed.

IIT Roorkee declined to comment on salaries, but said the placement team “constantly works hard to build connections with organizations through LinkedIn and the alumni network.”

Stepping through the gates of an IIT as a student is a rite of passage for thousands of Indians – it’s a ticket to success. While engineering seats in private colleges are expensive, and a small fraction of them can pay their way abroad, getting a place in an IIT is seen as an achievement in itself. The problem really lies in what awaits some students at the exit gate.

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