I am pursuing B.Tech (ECE) in one of colleges affiliated to JNTU. What should be my aggregate percentage to get placed in core companies in my field? I want to pursue Master's degree. Should I opt for MS or M.Tech? Please advise.

- Thejasvi. C

Firstly, you need to decide whether you want to work or pursue higher education. The decision-making process can be stressful for any student and parents too. So, begin by looking at your options and the contentious issues that surround it that you need to consider before taking an informed decision.

The question to be answered first is about getting placed in a job suitable to your qualification in a core company. Fresh graduates from ECE stream have numerous opportunities in both private and public sectors, as long as you are not limiting your opportunities by restricting yourself to one particular area. For example, you may want to work only on hardware or communications, or have constraints regarding place of work, then the opportunities become limited.

In the government sector, opportunities open up with Indian Armed Forces, Railways, Civil Aviation, ISRO, DRDO, or other government organisations like Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) to name a few. Benefits of working in public sector are many. You get a broad overview of the sector, limited working hours and job stability.

The benefits of working in private sector are higher pay package based on your skill sets, opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge and commercial experience and opportunities to travel abroad. In the private sector, the mobile and telecom organisations like Bharti Airtel, Uninor, Tata Teleservices, Idea and Nokia hire fresh graduates from ECE stream. IT majors like Infosys, Wipro and TCS, automobile giants like Tata Motors and Honda, key players of consumer goods industry like Samsung, Philips and Videocon also hire fresh ECE graduates.

What do they look for in a candidate? It depends mostly on the organisation. In general, they look for consistent academic record from class X onwards. An aggregate score of 60 percent or above would usually qualify you. But then, you will have to compete with the likes of you who would also be strong contenders. So, having good communication skills, with an understanding of the sector and the company, good project experience while studying, along with proper behaviours and attire would go a long way in increasing your chances.

Now, if you decide that you need a PG, it is worth noting that you should do it from a top-grade school/university. Choosing between MS or M. Tech is not difficult. It predominantly depends on your scores, financial situation, percentage of aid you get and your aspirations. If you can manage to get good scores in GRE and TOEFL, you can secure a seat in MS. If you manage to join one of the IITs, your M.Tech degree will also attract opportunities as good as an MS degree would.

The focus of M.Tech programme is course work. The prescribed course work, typically, gets completed within the stipulated period of the course, which is two years. The M.Tech curriculum covers topics from various areas under the specialisation you choose. This will give you the benefit of having 'options' when you are applying for jobs. The project, which is a part of your curriculum, provides exposure to the real world work environment. The expenditure for M.Tech programme is much less when compared to MS.

Coming to MS, the focus of the programme is on research work. Towards the completion of the course, you will have specialised in the area you chose for research. You will get acquainted with research-based learning and improve your aptitude to pursue Ph.D. The learning style, which involves a lot of practical work, helps you keep yourself abreast with the latest technologies in the field. Your learning may take two years or sometimes even less.

When choosing between MS and M.Tech, you might be interested to know that some institutes in India, like the IITs are offering MS (research) programmes. Also, there are some universities that offer MS programmes in collaboration with foreign universities.

Lastly, note that you can also pursue M.Tech in part-time mode. So, if you get a good job soon after your B.Tech, you can consider this option. It will allow you to have a steady job, while your part-time study will prepare for the next level!

T. Muralidharan

TMI e2E Academy

(Queries for this column can be sent to collegian@thehindu.co.in)