How To Crack Off-Campus Internships/Placements?

How to Crack Off-Campus Internships?

Introduction

Off-campus placements or interviews as the name implies are the placement drive that takes place outside of the college campus.

The college/university has no role in these types of off-campus placements and has zero contact with the company which means no rules and regulations of the college are applicable for these placements. 

In the case of off-campus placements, you are required to directly apply to the companies that you wish to join and submit your job application on their portal. Companies conduct off-campus placements due for various reasons chief among them being, they want access to a large talent pool. They typically have only a few open positions and want the best candidate to fill those roles. 


Why Off-Campus Placement Important?

  • Off-campus interviews are important because you have a wide range of companies to choose from.
  • Typically the best product companies have off-campus interviews and since there are no rules of the college or university, you can apply to and get selected in as many companies as you want.
  • The annual packages offered are relatively higher than the on-campus placements. 
  • There are more relaxed conditions around CGPA or any other criteria around marks (senior secondary/ secondary marks criteria are relaxed). 
  • Being a dropout or having drop years or comparatively less score in higher secondary usually is not a big problem for these companies.

Challenge in Clearing Off-Campus Placement Drive:

Since there is a huge pool of applicants, the main challenge a candidate faces to crack off-campus interviews is how to stand out from the crowd. Competition in off-campus placements is very high. These companies typically look for the best and brightest. 

Important topics students should prepare to crack off-campus interviews include:

  • Data Structures and Algorithms
  • Operating Systems
  • Database Management
  • Computer Networks

I am prepared with the above-mentioned topics. What should I do in order to stand ahead of my peers?

The above-mentioned topics are certainly important but in order to stand out from the rest of the crowd, one needs to focus more on Development

The main doubt quite common among students is -now that they are confident in Data Structures and Algorithms, what should they do next, how to approach further, what should be the flow of action in order to achieve the desired internship? 

Students usually stop learning once they feel they have achieved excellence in DSA. An important point that students often overlook is that the journey doesn’t end at job/internship interviews so let’s not be short-sighted. Let’s not stop learning once we are well versed in Data structures and algorithms. 

Excellence in DSA must be followed by development and deployment. 

Pick up a development skill, be it machine learning, web development, or android app development, and start making projects. Master a particular domain and have at least one working, deployed project either as a website, a Heroku app, or an app on the play store.  

You need to move ahead of DSA and make yourself company ready. As a software developer, you won’t be coding DSA but building stuff. You will be applying DSA knowledge in creating products.

The combination of project+problem solving skills will fetch you a maximum number of job offers. Keep practising, revising and revisiting DSA but start working on products. It will make your resume stand unique. 

Getting an internship isn’t the end goal. Once you are well versed in DSA spending 10-12 hours a week is more than sufficient. Hence, devote the rest of your time to project development.

What Is The Importance Of Project Development in Off-Campus Drive?

Apart from the traditional coding challenges, many companies host hiring challenges on platforms like HackerRank, HackerEarth, TechGig, etc. The most popular format of such hiring challenges recently is Hackathons. As they have become a hub of the brightest and the most passionate engineering students.

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By participating in a hackathon, one kills three birds with one arrow: 

  1. You get to work on an awesome project which you can later put on your resume, 
  2. You get the opportunity to meet other people in the same domain and expand your network 
  3. Once you have reached the final round of the hackathon, companies usually invite you to interview with them.

The hackathon community is all about learning via development and work under pressure in a coordinated team. You get to meet some of the brightest engineers, peers interested in the same domain as yours and tech recruiters out there. 

Again, to excel in hackathons you need a good understanding of software development procedure and project management which you can only gain if you build projects. Actively work for the projects of the club/society/chapter or get involved in some projects of your branch, it pacifies your learning process, and you also find seniors to guide you.

Some major upcoming hackathons:

Check more live/ upcoming hackathons at DareToCompete.

Various hackathons have different rounds and judging criteria, but the following steps are generally common in all of them.

Step 1: Gather information about the hackathon, when, where, how and rules for it and apply immediately. 

Step 2: Create a team and start brainstorming ideas on the problem statement.

Step 3: Submit the proposal.

Step 4: On getting approval, make a prototype of the project, and submit it. 

Step 5: Get ready for a presentation where you need to explain your project and establish that your project is the best existing solution to the given problem statement.

Step 6: If you have cleared all the above rounds and got shortlisted, you will receive an interview call.

Various hackathons have a different number of rounds and criteria, so one has to read the rules and regulations properly for each and participate accordingly. Information about the current hackathons happening is generally available on websites like HackerEarth and Devfolio. 

Amazon Placement Procedure: Need to know guide

When should I apply for an off-campus placement?


You should constantly be on the lookout for these placements. You can add these companies’ Google alerts so that whenever these companies are mentioned you get an email about the updates. Also, you can visit their careers page and subscribe to their newsletter or try and get notified for any updates. You can also be part of communities on Linkedin or Internshala or any other site that gives such information.

How should I apply for an off-campus placement?

Each company will have its own process which more often than not is a form that you have to fill and attach your resume. Ensure that your resume is tailored according to the company and the role you are applying for. Always check for the requirements of the role and shape your resume accordingly. Also, ensure that you always attach a cover letter as this is an indication to the company that you are actually interested and taking an extra effort. Always helps.

How To Approach Off-Campus Internships/Placements?

Step 1 – Know Which companies conduct off campus placements?

A bunch of well-established companies including Amazon, Google, Accenture, Genpact, Cognizant etc. hire through off-campus placement drives or off-campus interviews. Nothing is fixed about such drives and can change from year to year based on the requirements of these companies. With the COVID epidemic and work from home revolution more and, more companies are preferring off-campus interviews and off-campus placements.

Product based companies interviews

Service based companies placements

These are the companies known for taking up a good number of fresher candidates for their job roles. Unlike popular belief that Technology oriented companies hire only tech candidates, there is a superfluity of options available for analysts, business managers, product managers, content associates as well.  

Step 2 – Prepare your resume

Step 3 – Take as many aptitude/coding tests as possible on Code Studio.

Step 4 – Practice for company specific interview questions on Code Studio

Step 5 – Read about the interview experiences of students who have been placed in such companies especially through off-campus drive and also prepare for personality-related questions on leadership, management, teamwork skills. The best site for coding interview experiences is Code Studio.

Step 6 – Apply to these companies

Every company has a career page where they post all their job openings and their requirements. Keep a regular eye on the career page and apply for a suitable job opening. 

Link to the career pages of some of the top product-based companies:

Step 7 – Stay alert and keep checking your application status by logging in to the careers page of the company, look for any replies you get to your applications, and respond immediately.

Things to note before rolling out your resume

  1. Phone number and email address included. Pick your school or personal email, but don’t confuse the reader by listing both.
  2. Links to your GitHub, personal website, and/or LinkedIn (with customized URL)
  3. Only use acronyms if they are common or first explained (“Natural Language Processing (NLP)”, then you can use “NLP” for any other references).
  4. Do not include negative information, and don’t downplay your achievements by describing them as “basic” or “simple”.
  5. For each work/project experience, share 2-5 bullets explaining tasks, actions, and results. Be sure each bullet begins with an action verb – pioneered, deployed, coordinated, developed, initiated, etc.   
  6. For projects, expand on the purpose, skills learned and/or developed, and outcomes. Check to make sure your bullets answer the question “so what?” Who did you benefit and how?
  7. If you decide to share interests, pick one instead of listing several and make it memorable/unique. Instead of “Dancing, martial arts and reading” go for “National level martial arts player”.
  8. Spellcheck, read aloud, and have someone else read your resume.
  9. Stick with regular fonts – i.e., Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman and keep font size consistent throughout (typically 11-12) with only a few exceptions. The name should be larger (e.g., font size 16-24). 
  10. Use italics sparingly and don’t bother with color (black and white keep them focused on the content).

Tips and tricks to accelerate your job hunt

  • Reach out to people working in your target companies on LinkedIn.
  • Ask them for a referral. Many employees are constantly looking for strong candidates to refer to the company. Reference from someone working in the company will give you an edge over people who are applying traditionally.
  • Whenever you send a mail with your resume, attach a cover letter as well. It is not required but it helps your application and shows you are ready to put in the extra effort.
  • Attend as many conferences and hackathons as you can. This will help you build a strong network of connections.
  • Send a thank you mail to HR/ Interviewer after the interview as it keeps you on their positive side.

If you feel you are unprepared for DSA then check this course which is the best course for data structures. If you feel you are confident enough then test your skills by practicing problems on data structures for free

I hope this article could help you get placed in your dream company. All the best!

By Jyotsna Kumari

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