Flipkart-IIM Tiff: A Lesson Every Fresh Graduate Must Pay Heed To !

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Dreams of IIM students of taking on challenges and opportunities in a new scenario after graduating were suddenly shattered last Friday, as India’s poster boy of e-commerce revolution, Flipkart shocked them by deferring their joining dates by seven months (from June to December).

Flipkart clarified their stance in a post on their website later saying that the decision, though tough and disappointing in the short run, would benefit the students eventually if they joined when the environment is “conducive to their learning and overall growth.

“In the past few months, we’ve been working on restructuring our businesses to strike the right balance among key levers… As a part of this ongoing restructuring, the campus program will also go through a comprehensive overhaul,” they went on to add.

Miffed by this puerile explanation, IIM-A took up cudgels on behalf of their affected students and tried their best to convince Flipkart who refused to relent.

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Flipkart is one of the very few Indian companies who get the Day One slot across IITs (except IIT Bombay) and IIMs along with tech giants like Google and Microsoft. Goes without saying, the competition among recruiters to hire the sharpest brains is intense. So much so that Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal, annoyed at not getting the Day One slot, had expressed his displeasure on Twitter last year, only to be blacklisted by the IITs from all campus recruitment altogether.

During the initial days of campus recruitments, students are picked up after several rounds of interviews and frenzied discussions. Getting picked up by a Day One slot company and then being forced to sit idle for six months as a bolt from the blue for the management trainees sifted by the Bengaluru-based recruiter from among several hundred applicants.

In all, Flipkart had offered jobs to 45 students from 4 IIMs (18 from Ahmedabad, 11 at Bengaluru, 9 at Kolkata and 7 from Indore).

IIM-A Placement Committee Chairman Asha Kaul had expressed her dissatisfaction at the measly ‘compensation’ of Rs 1.5 lakh per student openly, saying it was only a fraction of the salary they would have earned during the forced layoff. She also mentioned that they were getting offers from other companies who said they would be happy to ‘create’ jobs for these students.

“Now, the students will have to see if the jobs they are offered match their requirements,” she said.

Students at the threshold of promising careers who had turned down several lucrative offers and have educational loans which they need to start repaying are, undoubtedly, feeling cheated. There are offers galore from rival Amazon, fashion marketplace app Voonik and digital wallet Paytm, to mention a few but not without a bad taste in the mouth.

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All the 45 students who had Flipkart offers now want to consider alternative jobs, as revealed by Sapna Agarwal, head of career development services at IIM-Bangalore.

Lessons to Learn From the Flipkart-IIM Tiff

Working with startups can be a great learning experience, particularly for aspiring entrepreneurs but they must weigh the associated pros and cons carefully before putting their career at stake.

In the recent past, startups looked promising and were even able to raise funds from investors have bitten the dust. Zomato, Foodpanda, TinyOwl, Housing.com and, Grofers, all of whom had to scale down their presence, downsize and/ or shut down offices in several cities are still fresh in public memory. Some smaller startups have also deferred or even withdrawn offers after initially recruiting students, though this latest episode easily qualifies as the biggest shock.

Passouts from top notch institutes ruin over their career choice, even before they could have joined should come as an eye-opener for all.

In a scenario like this, it is essential for all students to have a fallback plan. With uncertainty prevailing and obscenely overvalued companies sinking every other day, even the big and ‘reputed’ names should not be taken for granted. For those who want to play safe, well-established companies which are past their teething troubles are best, even if they pay lesser.

A placement chairperson of an older IIT has already pointed out, “We are looking to rethink our strategy about this entire space as a whole. We are seeing more interest in big MNCs and more stable companies.”

Due to the premium institutes steeply pushing up their fees in the last few years, more and more students have had to opt for educational loans. As such, they are under immense pressure to start earning soon. In the aforesaid situation, IIT-A has clearly mentioned that Flipkart’s decision of deferring joining by seven months puts a lot of personal finances (and by extension careers) in jeopardy and is bound to cause a lot of duress to the students and their families.

Flipkart’s response on this has been appalling too. They said they had already taken into account the loan repayment aspect before announcing their decision to defer the joining dates. They went on to elaborate that loan repayment starts a year after the end of studies or six months after the student gets a job, whichever is earlier, thereby suggesting the affected students to submit their revised offer letters to the bank.

Whether or not the Flipkart is stripped off its hallowed Day One status (which, at the moment, seems to be the sternest stand the IIMs can take against the e-commerce giant), the students who should have been on cloud nine after graduating from India’s most coveted are waiting  with bated breath to see what the future holds for them.

And to think that they are yet to step out in the big, bad world…

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