October 31, 2007

Recruitment / Placement : IIM / ISB vs. International Schools

update:Turns out this post needed more follow-ups, here is an update post covering salary ranges, base salaries and other such matters

I receive a fair amount of e-mail from my blog readers. Many pertain to application evaluation/essay evaluation. And some pertain to recruitment and similar career related questions - and several of these are from potential Indian applicants.

This post is to summarize some principal possible differences between recruitment in the top Indian business schools like IIM/ISB vs. top International schools (typical FT top 10 or M7 + LBS/INSEAD). Keep in mind the following

  1. I can write about IIM / ISB experiences based on what I've heard and read. I haven't studied in one of them previously (yes, many IIM grads do study MBA again in international schools) but I do know many who have, including a sibling.
  2. I haven't started the recruitment season at INSEAD yet - it starts next April for me. But I've seen quite a bit so far. So if this post needs an update later, I will do so.
So, compared to the Indian Institutes, what are probably the principal differences?

  1. Recruitment is a long cycle - The process of finding a job can takes months, sometimes 4-6 months. The process involves substantial amount of career coaching, CV polishing, schmoozing, meeting with recruiters, follow-ups, attending cocktails and networking sessions, and then finally rounds of interviews. Jobs are not a "given", the idea is you learn all the skills needed to "earn" one.
  2. There is no "placement week" with "zero day placements" and everyone getting jobs in 2 days - There is a recruitment season which lasts 2-4 months, but nothing stops someone from looking for jobs much earlier.
  3. A lot of graduates get jobs outside career services / campus placements - A pretty high percentage - often as high as 30% (could be more depending on the year, school etc.) get jobs outside placements. They do so for variety of reasons - but the most important one is that search for the right job in a company of interest. Getting jobs like this is again a long process that involves lot of research, networking and persistence.
  4. Astronomical salaries are usually outliers - Yes, someone from Columbia this year got half a million. Many from INSEAD do get high salaries. But keep in mind that these are statistical "outliers." They do not represent typical salaries. When I read many reports on IIM/ISB I read about many "1 crore" salaries which translates to over 250,000$ base salary for associate or 3rd year analyst positions. I might be wrong, but such salaries from banks may be specially given to IIM / ISB students because I don't think any of the international schools get such salaries on a regular basis. I don't know. But the typical average in most of the top schools is around 110,000 USD.
  5. You are often pitted against those from other top schools - There are many interesting jobs and positions often open only to a select set of schools. What that means is you are not competing for it with just your class mates, but also with those from the other top schools - you compete on a whole new level. Without mentioning names of companies, I can tell you there are specific roles that companies open only to the typical FT top 10. The flip side is you are competing with all of them. Most of the companies recruiting are high profile and have access to the best talent around the world, so they're not standing in a queue to recruit you.
  6. Job placement is a whole lot about specific roles and fit - A lot of placement is for specific roles and positions. This makes fit very important. There is very little of "we'll come in a bus, pick a bunch of grads, and then put them anywhere in the organization." I can say that this is a critical difference between lot of international blue chips that come on campus vs. Indian company style recruitment (of which I can speak of with considerable experience).
  7. Placement is truly global - jobs are offered around the world, and often in very interesting management rotations that take you to multiple countries.
Does it mean that it's a hopeless case to get a job? Uh..no. Most of them get great jobs in interesting companies and with pretty good salaries. But you need to work really hard to get them. In the process, you become a whole lot polished as a person. And this is a reason why some schools don't really worry you with grades (INSEAD doesn't) so you can focus on all the other critical skills you should be polishing as an MBA, and it's not all about theory and books.
updated note: needless to mention, these skills should come to aid later in life when you are job searching on your own as well.

At some point later I might post some interesting jobs that get offered. If you have a correction suggestion to make, please send in a comment and I will make necessary changes. I hope I answered a few questions and cleared some doubts about how recruitment typically works. This is not just for INSEAD, as I said, it holds for many other international schools as well.

update:Turns out this post needed more follow-ups, here is an update post covering salary ranges, base salaries and other such matters

update: Here is a post on Consulting recruitment at INSEAD and for those who think about GMAT Relevance in interviews, here is my post on Relevance of GMAT Score in Consulting recruitment

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