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Placement Stress

'Placements', 'Jobs', 'Salary Packages' – these are common terms heard by everyone throughout life, but when one is finally going to sit for placements, it surely sends shudders down the spine. But always remember –

"It is not stress that hurts us, it is our reaction to it."

I would suggest all to make a timeline of when you would like to finish which task and a timetable for the day to allocate hours for preparation, academics and refreshing activities.

I'm Ankit Bohra, I graduated this year from the Mechanical Engineering Department and have secured a job at Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Being a part of the Internship Team, I was involved in the conduction of placements for the Batch of 2019 and having sat for Placements this year, I would like to share a few things about the stress that one experiences during placements and ways you can handle and adjust to it

Placements consist of about 5 stages through which stress keeps accumulating- Resume making, Preparation, Company Tests, Release of Shortlist and the Final Interviews. In my opinion, the biggest factor that induces stress is comparing yourself with your peers. Each person tends to think that his/her peers have better internships or POR or CPI etc. Students often panic as they start comparing their resumes among each other as this decides whether they will get selected for the job or not. Learning from someone else is a great thing, but stressing out because of self-doubt and inferiority complex is detrimental. One should believe in oneself and back his/her strengths rather than worrying about what others have on their resume.

Since the Placement deadlines are strict, do ensure you make your resume on time to get them reviewed by your seniors and prepare the final draft well in advance of the deadline to avoid unnecessary panic situations.

Due to the limitations on the number of JAFs, one wonders which jobs they should sign or look for. I would suggest that one should set targets in their mind regarding which field they want to apply in, get a rough estimate of JAFs they would require and accordingly collect incentive points. If one has determined the fields he/she wants to target, it would avoid the unnecessary signing of JAFs that one does once panic creeps in. This unnecessary signing of JAFs also has consequences later on during Placement Preparation and tests which increases your burden.

Coming to the Preparation part, it is one of the most stressful times of placements. The majority of the preparations are done between JAF signing and Company tests. The students have their plates full – managing academics, preparing for different fields of your choice, completing projects, preparing for additional exams. It is a natural human tendency to freak out when they see a huge chunk of tasks coming at them, which need to be completed in a very short span of time and with perfection. Every individual stresses but it is how you handle these matters. I had made a mistake of filling numerous JAFs of varying profiles. I had to prepare for all fields along with CAT and academics. One thing that helped me was making a perfect schedule in order to fit in all my tasks within the stipulated time. I would suggest all to make a timeline of when you would like to finish which task and a timetable for the day to allocate hours for preparation, academics and refreshing activities. Some refreshment activity is a must. Having made the schedule, follow it piously for a matter of 4 months and you will never feel stressed about your preparation. Moreover, during the preparation too, one should focus on their preparation and continue following their plan of action instead of panicking because someone else is doing something else for preparation. If during any discussion with your peers you find something worthwhile, incorporate that into your timeline and do it as per your schedule rather than doing it haphazardly based on other people’s schedule.

I would suggest all to make a timeline of when you would like to finish which task and a timetable for the day to allocate hours for preparation, academics and refreshing activities. Some refreshment activity is a must. Having made the schedule, follow it piously for a matter of 4 months and you will never feel stressed about your preparation. Moreover, during the preparation too, one should focus on their preparation and continue following their plan of action instead of panicking because someone else is doing something else for preparation. If during any discussion with your peers you find something worthwhile, incorporate that into your timeline and do it as per your schedule rather than doing it haphazardly based on other people’s schedule.

Having prepared well for about 1-2 months, the company tests would begin. The best way to ace the test is to go in without any baggage or tension. Stay calm, trust your preparation, don’t think of anyone else’s preparation level, and focus on the paper. The most important aspect is self-confidence. The tests start at 7am in the morning and may go on till 2 past midnight, depending on the JAFs signed. A human body tends to get tired after focusing for such long hours. Some exams may go well and some may not. People often freak out after messing up one paper and let that stress affect the other papers as well. This is one thing everyone should try to avoid. If one paper did not go as per expectation, leave it there, and move on to the next paper. Do not take any baggage of the previous paper into the next paper. Most importantly, have proper meals and sleep as and when you get time. One needs to have their stomach full and body charged up in order to focus for such long hours.

From mid-October the shortlists start releasing. This is one of the most depressing periods for many students. They dream of getting placed at a certain firm but may not end up getting shortlisted for it. There is disbelief and dejection, but one should always keep hold of their emotions and focus on the firms you have been shortlisted in rather than blaming the selection process or other external factors. It is a part and parcel of the process and everyone should try to deal with it calmly. I’ll tell you all about my personal experience. I had my primary target as Management Consulting. With my profile, I expected to get shortlisted for a few firms if not all. The only consulting shortlist I got was BCG and none other. I was initially dejected since I had prepared for consulting interviews for over 2 months by then. But I decided to continue preparing for that one company shortlist and managed to clear it. When one does not get shortlisted and sees their peers getting shortlisted, surely the pressure builds up, you start frightening, but there is no need for it. That panic and fear would only hurt you and hamper your preparation for other firms. Also remember, each firm also gives a waitlist in addition to the shortlist and most of them also have an additional waitlist too. So, if your name is not on the shortlist, it may be on the waitlist or extended waitlist. So, there is no need to stress out when you see others being shortlisted. The key is to remain calm and focussed.

Finally, the anxiety levels reach their peak when the D-Day arrives. Starting from December 1, the interview process begins and the tensed look becomes a common sight at the interview site. One thing to keep in mind is – In life there will be rejections and acceptances, but we ought to remain calm in both the situations. If one gets placed on Day 1 or 2, that person should be there the next day helping his peers instead of celebrating. I agree he/she deserves to celebrate the achievement but not at the expense of someone else’s loss or misery. It may have an adverse impact on others who weren’t able to cross the line that day. The ones who face rejection should take the positives and learn from the interview and be ready for the upcoming interviews. No doubt seeing your friends getting placed, while you are facing rejections can be disheartening, but the ones who get depressed sink further down. Instead, they should pull up their socks, pump up themselves with confidence that “Yeah, I can do it!” and walk into the next interview room as though he/she has thousands of companies as back-up jobs. One thing that surely helps here is peer support. So everyone reading this article, remember to be the support of your peers during their stressful periods and stand with them through it.

I’ve spoken a lot of stress-inducing factors in the placement process. But I am also aware of a couple of other factors that dent the confidence of students even before starting the placement process. Firstly, the external factors influence the students to a great extent. With the prevailing situation in India and Covid-19 on the rise, most of the students are concerned about the placement season. Whether a particular firm will come to hire or not, whether they will recruit a certain number of people or they would be looking for less number of students and many more uncertainties. These are some parameters we cannot comment on or get to know. Isn’t stressing on things which are out of our control useless? One should always try to control the things in their own hands and worry about those outcomes.

"You cannot always control what goes outside. But you can always control what goes inside.
– Wayne Dyer

Another thing that many students are uneasy about is their performance during internship season. Internship Season and Placement Season work very differently. There may be several reasons as to why one may have not performed well during internship season and landed in a less-deserving firm. For instance, companies hold a certain bias against Dual Degree students during internships. Also, the level of preparation and seriousness during the Internship season is far less when compared to the Placement Season.

So, one should never carry the baggage of what happened during internship season into the placement season. It is a new start, a fresh start and you needs to give your best into it. For instance, during the internship season, I had been rejected by 4 firms after giving their interviews before landing an internship at Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories. I never thought about those rejections during my preparation for placements, I just learnt from my mistakes and worked on them, which eventually helped me secure a job at BCG.

As human beings, developing stress at an important phase of life is absolutely normal. But the way you handle it and not let it get to you is significant. Placements is also a slightly random process, where luck plays an important role in my opinion. It is by no means a clear testament of your caliber or potential. So everyone please relax and focus on your own preparations. I know there are some uncertainties with prevailing situations. Everyone’s facing different issues at home. The productivity may be low, group preparation may be difficult, some may be facing mental health issues and the placement pressure may be adding to that. But we all ought to be tough. We’ve all heard it, now it’s time to implement it – “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” There are many problems but we will have to fight against them and overcome it. Trust me at the end of placements, the feeling you get after seeing your name on the blog is unparalleled and truly worth bearing the pains and putting in all the efforts. We all are into it together and will sail out of it together. In case anyone wants to talk to me, feel free to reach out to me anytime. ALL THE BEST!!