Day 1- Slot 1
(On the First Day of Placements, PlaceCom gave to me one reason to remember)
It was supposed to be the litmus test of batch unity. It was supposed to be when we finally shouldered our responsibilities and made the statement… “We are there for you.” For all the loudness of these refrains, pounded into our heads by mentors and many GBMs alike, the day started with the barest whimper.
Companies were trickling in- the best marketing companies and the biggest conglomerates in India- for the other half of the best and brightest in Bangalore. A lot of the Day Zee signouts took over from the seniors, manning the outposts, seeing to the comfort of the students and companies alike.
Volunteer Rule Number 1: Keep the companies happy even if you don’t get the students for them.
I promptly smiled at the alumnus of the marketing company that had come. He was a friendly person after all… it ought not be too hard to keep them happy.
“So, you want coffee? Tea? Sandwiches? Lunch?”
The interviewers seemed perky enough. And their wants were limited. After placing orders for the 5 lunches and 5 sandwiches, we found ourselves deep in conversation with the recruiters.
That of course brings us to Volunteer Rule Number 2. We do not talk about Rule Number 2!
The Company tracker was a relaxed senior with whom we spent time discussing the scene and future prospects. When suddenly, it all became just a little hectic.
Yes, it was the dreaded spectre of Group Discussions.
Through the whole day, we shepherded in groups of 8 or more students for GDs, signed them out and then waved them onto more processes. And through the whole day, we could just watch the sight. Normally confident students slowly wilting under the pressure, moving from one blindly from process to another, stopping in the middle just to ask, “Which company is it now?”
Through the day, the company kept interviewing or demanding to see more students, and keeping matters very close indeed.
The whole process had swung into top gear, well oiled and beautiful to watch in the abstract. Every student accounted for, each second counted and the trackers on close watch. It was awe-inspiring and at the same time, felt like the most tedious thing in the world.
Companies were still the same, underneath it all. Some students were still being fought over, especially when they had been known to have an offer in hand. Some students were still left in the lurch, running from process to process, naught in sight.
I sat there primly on a chair, watching the world go round. I watched as a friend was cornered and asked to decide on the spot. And then I told him to do what he so obviously wanted to, “Go away from the main building, and don’t come here.”
Damn, that felt good! Of course, I then had to march to the trackers and PlaceCom and report what I had done. The PR, uncharacteristically, burst into a fit of giggles and then composed himself to ask me if I knew where the friend was. After a few tense moments, he was found. His beaming eyes were answer all I needed. Since the company didn’t get that candidate, I gave them some coffee instead.
People shuddered at the name of a certain IIMBian who had caused whole groups to be chucked out due to inherent tendencies to turn any GD into a fish market. This feeling was best exemplified by, “You mean SHE is in my group? I think I should give up right now!”
So, the day ended. The offers hadn’t piled up at all. And at the end of it all, we were all feeling a bit dissatisfied.
Day 1-Slot 2 to Day 2-Slot 1
(On the Second Day of Placements, PlaceCom gave to me two separate days lived together)
The MDC was beginning to take on a distinctly empty appearance. People were leaving and the seniors were annoyed.
“We work our asses off for your placements and this is how you repay us?”, asked an annoyed senior.
“Uhm, do you want a tea or coffee?”
The reason was simple. People were getting frustrated and nerves were stretching to fraying point. The pundits were predicting 6 days of Placement. We just couldn’t take it anymore.
Companies were calling with apologies for not showing up. They’d realized they wouldn’t be seeing enough numbers to recruit. Volunteers showed up at the reception, looked around and then sat in the main lobby with their friends.
Looking around, you could see the difference in the people. The lucky ones in their ‘casual’ business formals, laughing and joking with each other and the ones still left in the process were showing the strain.
We were all sitting, talking and joking generally, smug in the goodness of our hearts- because, after all, we had shown up, hadn’t we? A tracker came up, looked around and said, “All of you got placed huh? Slot zero?”
Someone tried to speak up, “Yeah.”
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself! Don’t you think you should at least be sitting with the others and giving them companionship?”
Quick as lightning, all of us jumped up with identical embarrassed expressions on our faces and went and found ourselves work to do.
There was only one problem, we didn’t know what to say! So, slowly, uncertainly, people either withdrew or cracked awkward jokes. We could see it before our eyes- cliques forming, people sitting together, holding hands. The air was charged with electricity and the million prayers being mouthed every second.
Maybe things would look up the next day.
Day 2- Slot 2
(On the Last Day of Placements, PlaceCom gave to me a champagne shower at L^2)
There was that expectant hush in the air again. After all, hadn’t IIMC’s placements been over in five days? And there were so few people left in the process.
And so we shall fast forward, glossing over the despair of the last remaining, the determined PRs striding towards the goal that was on the horizon, over the innumerable conversations between the students about when placements would end and over those cups of Coke.
And we pause at that magical moment. It’s around 6 P.M, two companies are still on campus. PlaceCom has sent a mail, and the lobby is filled with PGP1 students. And there, on the first floor, stand the 8 PRs, a very happy SM and Mr. Nagaraj, our wonderful Placement Coordinator, all wearing beatific smiles. Our faces are all raised and the happiness is almost tangible.
The speech begins- long lists of people to thank, advice given and long pauses when the batch voices their approval. The cheers go on and on and the loudest ever. The longest is reserved for the one person who works tirelessly for this collective… this ideal… this crazy IIM mela of Placements.
I look around again, ever the spectator. People have tears in their eyes and unbidden, they’ve come to mine too. SM declares the placements closed and the whole MDC erupts in spontaneous glee. All those pent up emotions have breached the self imposed dams and everyone is hugging each other and shaking hands.
The newspapers the next day give the bare facts for they cannot capture what it was like. It was like a life lived. And we get to do it four times in two years! Aren’t we the lucky ones?
And of course, noone needed to ask us where the party was tonight.
That song played at least 4 times on L^2 that night!