31 Oct 2015 15:21 IST

What you should look for in summer placements

It’s not about the stipend, brand name or location. It’s all about the experience and the takeaways

’Tis the season of summer placements! For a lot of you, they would have begun or will be starting soon. And, like many of the important aspects of life, no one is briefed adequately about the role of summer placements and how one should approach them.

To evaluate summer placements, these are the criteria I have heard people use: Will there be a pre-placement offer? What is the stipend, the brand value of the organisation? What about the location? ...and a slew of other such musings. Of course, there are those who say placement is needed, irrespective of the offer, and that one cannot be choosy.

However, in my view, most of these evaluation factors are unimportant. While it is correct that one placement offer is better than none at all, that does not mean a person should blindly walk into the summer placement scene, without knowing why it is done.

Why is it done?

Why does one need to go through the experience of summer placement?

Because this is supposed to be the practical training ground for all concepts that have been taught and will be taught in the second year. And that is why it is called summer ‘training’. Those taking the placement should ensure that their focus doesn’t shift from this word — training.

In that context, the brand value of the organisation, amount of stipend, location, and all the other seemingly ‘important’ decision-making factors are secondary. The primary and the most important criteria are two things.

Alignment to career path: The focus should be on getting summer placement for roles that are as close to one’s desired career path as possible. This alignment can be from a functional perspective or an industry one. For example, a person who wishes to be an HR professional should aim for HR placement, regardless of which industry or company offers it — it could be a manufacturing firm which enables exposure to industrial relations or a recruitment firm which teaches them about talent acquisition.

On the other hand, if the person is keen on any particular industry, they should be open to work for any function in that industry.

Exposure and learning opportunity: This is, quite frankly, the most important criteria and a very difficult one to evaluate and predict.

While the earlier batch might have had tremendous learning in an organisation, it need not be the same for the current batch. While one person might be in a field office, where exposure is limited, another might get a role in the head office, where experience and learning are more. This element can be broadly evaluated by asking seniors, and checking online, and is, at best, an educated guess. However, the onus is still on the individual to maximise his or her learning.

True purpose

Last and definitely not the least, is being aware of the expectations the organisation has from the summer placement. The best case scenario would be when the investment of time and effort helps them identify future managerial talent; the worst-case scenario would be a temporary resource who can add value.

Therefore, work to be, at the very least, a resource who contributes something to the firm, and work towards a potential career with that organisation.

And always keep in mind that a summer placement’s true purpose is training and learning. Everything else is secondary.

To read more from the Out of Syllabus section, click here .

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