This year’s CAT result has a surprise element — 20 candidates who have scored 100 percentile are all engineering students. A look at the past years’ trend show that most Common Aptitude Test toppers have been engineering students, especially from IITs. It has become a norm for science students to get admission in a prestigious IIT and then ace IIM for a degree in management.
But why has MBA become the next milestone for these students — is it the fat salary, love for management courses, adding one more jewel to their crown, better career growth, social status, or all of the above reasons?
Tailor-made for them
At present, 85 per cent of PGP students in IIM Bangalore are engineers.”Of those with engineering background, about 28 per cent are from an IIT, and another 22 per cent are from an NIT,” said Prof Rajendra K Bandi.
T Muralidharan, HR and author of various job-related books, said the CAT is structured to suit engineering students as they are trained for such competitive exams since beginning. “CAT tests an aspirant’s maths, English, logic and reasoning — all four sections that IIT students have a grasp on. IITs are cosmopolitan in nature as students and faculty speak in English. A lot of co-curricular activities keep happening there that further give exposure to them,” says Muralidharan.
In India, a student’s intelligence is defined on the basis of his college/ university’s rankings. So, if a science student clears Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) and gets admission in IIT, he has joined the elite club. But not many know what is their true calling and end up pursuing run-of-the-mill careers.
Therefore, an engineering degree has become a default course. “It is a mad chase. First do engineering and then decide what you wish to do next in your life. They don’t know what their real love is. Parents are navigating their wards interest and making them run for a ‘safe’ career. There is no interest in innovations,” says Muralidharan who himself is an IIT Madras and IIM Ahmedabad graduate but feels the quality of engineers has degraded.
Avidipto Chakraborty, CAT 2016 topper, explains the plight of the students who are not exposed to the exhaustive list of career options. “While in school, we knew the broader meaning of engineering and MBBS. Consulting, marketing, finance etc were unheard of. Science was like subject for those who scored above 80 per cent. Only when we enter college, we get an idea about these fields,” says Chakraborty who is expecting a call from IIM Ahmedabad.
They understand business
Rahul Sharma, CAT topper and IIM graduate, says that certain courses help students get corporate offers. “Engineering students are quite good with maths and reasoning. So they’re able to find good opportunities in the field of finance. Most of them go for Operations Management — because they’re mechanical engineers and are good at projects that involve industrial research.”
Prof Rajendra K Bandi, too, believes that students find education in management complementary to their engineering background. “Also students feel that an MBA qualification from a good institute will put them on a fast track mode in their career,” said he.
An engineer, powered with MBA degree, commands a better pay package than any other course. An engineering student’s average package is around 11 lakh but if they combine degrees of most sought-after institutes, then the package shoots upto 18 lakh for freshers.
“From the corporate world perspective, the market has always valued a good combination of techno-managerial skills,” said Bandi.
There is one more reason why engineering graduates are preferred by recruiters. “An engineer gets a degree after a four-year course while other programmes like B Com is completed in three years. So if some company has to invest money on an employee, they would prefer somebody with expertise in certain medium like software or mechanical,” added Muralidharan.