Placements 101 – #1

Love it or hate it, placements set the tone for the fourth year. Everything revolves around it. Classes (or the lack of them), motivational speeches, advice from staff, feverish preparation, discussions with friends and seniors… suddenly, every aspect of your college life has been taken over this one word alone – ‘placements’. Everyone, from your parents, relatives, friends to the canteen anna greets you with this refrain- “Place ayitiya ma?” And it is stressful, harrowing. It’s been three years in college and you are suddenly wondering what you’re doing here and how you even got this far because, as Ygritte rightly tells Jon Snow, “You know nothing.”

And if you are reading this as a worried fourth year or you’re an overachieving third year who wants to be really prepared the next year, let me tell you one thing- All of this furore is normal. And if you’re a first or a second year wanting to know what the fuss is all about, welcome to the ride.

Since I am from the Algo Stream, I can only provide advice for the CS and IT companies placement process. But do not worry. We have got insights from students from other departments too and they will all be coming up in the further instalments of this column.

The placement process for IT Product and Service companies can be broadly divided into three parts-  the aptitude tests, the coding tests and the interviews. The exact process will vary with each company, but they generally go with a combination of several rounds of these tests. I’ll talk about the overview of preparing for each round, break it up into small steps and recommend resources for the preparation.

The Aptitude Rounds are perhaps the easiest and most interesting rounds to prepare for. This is because they’re not generally tied to a specific programming language, and the questions have a lot of variety. In fact, if you have some free time, just randomly attempt a few aptitude questions without worrying about preparations and you’ll be hooked. There are quite a few books and online resources for Aps preparation, but here are a few popular choices:

Quantitative Aptitude by R.S. Agarwal is the standard and staple book for this, and while the size of it can seem a bit scary, I’ll give you a little tip. Filter the major topics (they’re usually time, distance and work, percentages, ratios, mixtures and simple and compound interest) and practice five questions from each one. Do this regularly, and be sure to introduce some variations in the problems you try. It keeps things more interesting. When you feel you know a fair amount from this book, use online aptitude practice websites. www.indiabix.com is one such website.

C and Java Aps: These sections are sometimes unavoidable in the placement process. A trip to the College Library will give you a few books, but I’ve generally found that they sometimes give incorrect answers. GeeksForGeeks.org is therefore a better alternative, and when you’re uncertain of an answer, Google it. Ensure that you know why an answer is right. Know how the compiler/interpreter works. You’ll find that there are a few common and popular questions that invariably get asked by all companies, so make sure you know these FAQs.

The Aps Sessions by the PDA: The Personality Development Association at MIT regularly conducts Aptitude Sessions. They discuss common questions and tricks to solve them quickly and also conduct competitions. If you are in third year or under you should definitely make use of all their sessions, which are a huge help in all aspects of placements.

To be continued…

Nivedhitha loves to play with words, and is currently doing her final year in Information Technology.