How off-campus placements can help kick-start your career

Jobs for freshers,Fresher jobs for engineers,Jobs for literature students

A great college placement is the dream, but what if you don’t like the job profiles on offer, or can’t properly match your offers with your niche specialty? Don’t forget that off-campus job-hunting is an option too, say educationists.

“The main advantage in applying for a job outside of the placements process is that you may be introduced to more niche jobs,” says N Shivakumar, head of HR consultancy TeamLease. “In fact, there are several startups and SMEs that can provide good opportunities for freshers, with larger roles to play and the possibility of lucrative career paths.”

For Shivani Pratap, 23, searching outside the campus helped her find a job back home in Mumbai. Jaya Dwivedi, 25, a literature graduate, realised that a complex profile suited her better than a big brand.

“Most profiles at my management school were offering sales jobs in Bengaluru,” says Pratap. “I wanted a job that had more to do with marketing strategy.” In February, in the last term of her postgraduate diploma, she even gave a couple of campus interviews and got two job offers, but decided to go it alone and see if she could find the kind of first job she really wanted.

“For about a month, I applied through online job portals,” she says. Then a Mumbai-based food startup called her for a position in retail marketing strategy. “The pay was about 10% less than the average campus placement packages, but it’s worth it to me,” she says.

Dwivedi, similarly, picked a job in content development at a small restaurant solutions company that she had interned with earlier. It took her about six weeks to find the position.

“Unlike with the campus placement interviews, I could visit their office, get a sense of the vibe and get a better idea of what it would be like to work there,” Dwivedi says.

There is, of course, uncertainty. With almost no experience and a limited network, it could take a while to find the right job, and you don’t have much bargaining power when you do.

Niket Raja, a BSc IT graduate, says he was sure he didn’t want to work in product development and wanted a customer-facing role. “I applied to about five companies, mostly online, and only two replied to my email. Even that took a month and a half. On campus, it takes not more than a few days,” he says. “I took up one of those offers, as a customer success manager at a company that makes marketing automation software and am still working there three years on. But the wait was very stressful.”

Seeing friends placed even before graduation can add pressure and make you impatient even when family and peers are supportive, admits Pratap. When people around you are not supportive, expect a lot of advice on what you could be doing instead. “You have to be focused if you’re sure that what you’re getting on campus is not what you want,” says Rishabh Santoshkumar, 23, an electronics and telecom engineer. “We didn’t have too many companies due to a change of leadership for the placement committee, so I decided to search for myself. People tell me to pursue an MBA instead, but I want to code. It’s been a month, and getting through to companies is difficult, but I believe this is the right choice for me.”