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Arts grads rake it in

An offer worth R32 lakh for an economics student and high-paying jobs for others. Arts subjects are drawing hot hirers, says Vandana Ramnani

education Updated: Mar 09, 2011 08:44 IST
Vandana Ramnani

This year, Deutsche Bank offered a BA (honours) economics student from Delhi University an annual package of R32lakh – with a London posting.

While one pretty much expects a R15.5 lakh package for an MBA student, arts students raking in higher packages is surprising. An interesting trend noticed by this reporter was that more English and economics scholars were getting good placements while students of history, sociology, political science and psychology preferred to continue studying.

This year saw companies such as Deloitte Haskins & Sells, Ernst & Young, Genpact, Oberoi Hotels, Google, Gandhian Fellowship and others scouting for fresh talent on arts campuses. Economics students managed to grab packages of around R5 lakh to R8 lakh a year while others – recruited largely by KPOs – bagged starting salaries of about R1 lakh to R3 lakh per annum.

Humanities students showed an inclination for doing things beyond their coursework. Many said they were interested in getting jobs straightaway after graduation to garner some work experience before their MBA entrance exams, for which two years of work experience is preferred. A majority, however, said pursuing higher studies was the best option, while the civil services also emerged as a popular choice.

According to Dr Seema M Parihar, founder of the central placement cell, Delhi University (DU), many companies focussed on the “trainability” of candidates.

Hirers were interested in exploring how a student could be “made acceptable” to an organisation. Companies generally selected students on the basis of a written test and a one-on-one interaction. Many companies were going in for online tests and screening students on the basis of their technical, analytical skills and logical capability. Percentage of marks rather than the subject was often used as a filter.

The companies were also looking for innovativeness, out-of-the-box thinking and the drive to go beyond the curriculum. Parihar elaborated: “Did you gather support to start a canteen in your college in case it did not have one? Did you launch a college magazine or a newsletter? Did you contribute to blogs? Did you start a campaign to name trees in your college? It is unfortunate that the DU syllabus does not have a project work component in it.”

At Miranda House, 60 students in the humanities streams were offered jobs this year. According to Dr Arvind Kumar, chair and advisor, placement cell, LSR (Lady Shri Ram College), more than 50% students were hired.

Besides hospitality and consulting firms, many students found jobs with media and publishing houses. An English Honours student was offered a package of R8 lakh by the Essex Consulting Group, a management services company.

Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) organised counselling sessions for its students in which future employers shared information on employment opportunities. Research institutes and think tanks, the media and civil society, and voluntary organisations were among the invitees. “We organise counselling sessions and not campus recruitment. The idea is to make students aware of certain requirements beyond term papers and stress on the need for complete personality and behavioural requirements. The mandate for holding campus recruitment entirely depends on the feedback we get from the students. We are open to it,” said Anand Kumar, chief advisor alumni affairs and placement cell, JNU.

At Gandhi Fellowship, academic discipline was not a filter. “We get a lot of applications. This is a youth leadership programme. Our batch of fellows is an interesting mix of people from all backgrounds – law, literature, philosophy, political science etc. The idea is to make it into a rich, diverse group. Our aim is to create leaders for tomorrow and nation-builders of the future,” said Swati Puri, programme lead, marketing and recruitment, Gandhi Fellowship.

Their placement target for this year was 150-175 candidates, who are given a grant of R14000 a month.

Getting it right
. At placements, be confident, enthusiastic
. Be clear and logical
. Interviewers may test your conversational skills
. They may want to know how serious you are about your studies and career
. Mind your body language
. Close the interview on a positive note
. Be yourself
. Equip yourself with as much information as you can on the programme, the position

Don’ts
.
Don’t offend the interviewersby making opinionated statements
. Don’t forget to listen
. Use knowledge interspersed with humour to show your leadership skills
. Don’t fib your way through an interview
. Don’t feel under-confident

With inputs from Garima Upadhyay