Lalit Kumar- IIT Bombay Alumnus
Pune, 25th June 2023: Should I prioritize my desired IIT and compromise on the department, or should it be the other way around? Which department suits me best, and how should I make the most of my next four years? These questions weigh on the minds of students who have conquered the world’s most challenging exam, JEE Advanced! Interestingly, there are no definitive answers to these concerns. In this article, I aim to provide valuable guidelines to help you make an informed decision. But before we dive into that, remember this: it’s not just which department you pursue in college but how you do it that truly matters.
Regardless of your department, learn to unleash the potential of IIT.
Remember, your success at IIT goes beyond the department you choose. It’s about maximising your time and embracing opportunities outside the classroom. Strike a perfect balance between academics and extracurricular activities. Immerse yourself in technical and non-technical events like Tech Fest and Mood I, and aim for leadership positions such as General Secretary. Don’t confine yourself to your room and textbooks alone. The IITs offer an unparalleled platform to expand your network, where you’ll connect with future visionaries like Sundar Pichai, Parag Agarwal, Nandan Nilekani, Arvind Kejriwal, and many more. You and your network will soon be the founders of groundbreaking organizations such as Ola, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Redseer Consulting, Zomato, Nobroker.com, Housing.com, and many others. Many of you will make your mark in the Indian bureaucracy, serving as IAS or IPS officers, leading cities, states, and even the entire country by advising the Prime Minister’s Office. The possibilities are limitless, and your journey as a newly crowned IITian is just beginning.
Take the initiative to seek out renowned professors and undertake research or projects under their guidance. Their recommendations, combined with a strong CGPA and the reputation of your college, will open doors to coveted internships, job opportunities, and more. If your aspirations lean towards pursuing a Master’s in a top-tier university, a good GRE score will also play a significant role. And your communication skills, case study expertise, and additional certifications such as CFA will add immense value for those aiming for careers in consulting, UPSC, CAT, or finance.
Despite the intentions of the IIT authorities, it is a well-known fact that the career paths of around 95% of IITians deviate from their respective departments. Fields like consulting, finance, and software jobs are department-neutral, providing opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds. Even for those aspiring to pursue areas like UPSC, CAT, or CFA, the choice of department becomes less significant. Additionally, many students have entrepreneurial aspirations and seek experience through participation in activities like E Cell and technical and cultural fests. In such cases, considering more versatile IITs like IIT Bombay, even if it means compromising on the department, makes sense, and if the only available options are newly established IITs like Dharwad and Jammu due to a lower All India Rank (AIR), getting into an IIT still holds preference over more flamboyant departments in non-IIT colleges. The IIT brand and the vast alumni network offer substantial credibility. While some may question the usefulness of the four years spent at IIT when anyways they will not be using departmental learning, it is essential to recognize that the comprehensive IIT curriculum, encompassing lectures, assignments, exams, and organizational responsibilities, equips students with invaluable management skills in areas such as organization and people management.
Exploring Department Choices in IITs:
Computer Science is a highly sought-after department, especially with the rising demand for AI and data analysis. Top companies offering high packages often prefer CS engineers and prestigious universities favor IIT CS graduates for advanced degrees. However, it’s essential to understand that CS is more than just coding and app development—it involves intense mathematics, including topics like Discrete Mathematics, Pnc, and Probability. The challenging curriculum and competitive environment may make it difficult for CS students to explore alternative fields like finance, consulting, UPSC, or CA. If you have a passion for math and are ready to prioritize academics, CS should be your preference, even in newly established IITs.
Electronics, often considered the closest field to computer science, shares many common courses and holds significant demand in the industry. It involves the study of microprocessors, solid-state devices, computer chips, digital and analogue communication, and transmission. However, it’s important to note that some IITs do not offer a course explicitly named “electronics” and instead include it under the banner of electrical engineering. For instance, at IIT Bombay, the Electrical Engineering course technically encompasses both electronics and electrical. On the other hand, electronics and electrical are separate courses at IIT Roorkee, with electronics being preferred there.
Electrical engineering deals with the application of electricity, power electronics, and electromagnetism in industrial machinery, electrical motors, transformers and ignition systems, from automobiles to spacecraft.
In a Mechanical Engineering program, students learn to design automobiles, electric motors, aircraft, and other heavy vehicles. It involves working with heavy tools, machinery, and computer-aided designs to create a wide range of products, including air conditioners, automobile engines, and electric power plants.
Several of my students, including those with top All India Ranks like 1, 37, 44, 71, 75, and 91, have pursued research-oriented profiles after completing their B.Tech in Computer Science from IIT Bombay. They have successfully applied their academic knowledge, aligning it with their interests. For example, Sushant Sachdeva, the only All India Rank 1 in JEE from Pune, is currently a professor. Others who may not have obtained their desired departments have excelled in consulting and other non-core fields, commanding million-dollar packages. It is worth noting that their success is a result of their strategic approach during their four years of study at IIT.
Exploring Branch Change Possibilities in IITs or Repeat Preparation for JEE?
There have been instances where students were rejected by renowned coaching classes after the 10th standard. One notable example is Sangram Gaikwad, a student of Prime Academy, Pune. Before joining Prime, several JEE coaching classes declared him unfit for the science stream. Despite facing challenges during his JEE preparation at Prime Academy, he persevered and successfully secured admission into an IIT. However, he had to compromise on his desired department and initially pursued a different field at the IIT. Later, based on his first-year CGPA, he successfully changed his department to Computer Science. His dedication and hard work paid off, as he emerged as the topper of the Computer Science department and is currently engaged in research. It’s worth noting that while branch change is an option, it is essential to acknowledge that it is a challenging process. Starting this year, IIT Bombay has discontinued the practice of branch change.
Many students dissatisfied with their JEE results choose to repeat their JEE preparation to secure a spot in their desired IIT. This period is not merely a gap but a golden opportunity to re-strategize, refocus, and come back stronger. Interestingly, a significant number of IITians are repeaters themselves. At Prime Academy, our track record speaks for itself – over 70% of students from our repeaters batch have successfully cleared JEE Advanced. If you need further guidance, feel free to visit our website www.primeacademypune.com
(Lalit Kumar, Founder of Prime Academy Pune, has mentored more than 3000 IITians in his teaching career of 21 years. He is B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from IIT Bombay and has the distinct achievement of becoming one of the youngest authors of an IEEE publication as he presented his technical paper on ‘Power Distribution and Automation’ in 2001.)