In our 3 Myths about MBA Admissions post last week – one of which is the idea that you need to have brand-name firms on your resume to get into bschool – someone posted a comment basically saying “Prove it!” (They didn’t say it in a mean way, just a doubting and skeptical way.) Here’s the question:
Even though every year some applicants working at no-name company get into top b-schools, isn’t it the case that more applicants from big name companies get in top schools compared to those from no-name companies (Goldie’s Pawn Shop). [we thought that said “Goldie Hawn’s Shop” at first]
What does your data say?
When ever I browse through the current students in top schools on linkedin, I see most of them have either a great undergrad school or a top company on their resume (sometimes both).
I understand we may be looking at correlation than causation, but isn’t the data tilted towards top companies.
Short answer: No.
The majority of our clients do NOT come from big-name companies. Sure, a bunch do, but “the data”, from our side at least, is not tilted that way.
Other short answer: Yes it’s correlation if anything.
Last short answer: We didn’t say that the schools don’t admit lots of people from those companies. What we said is that it’s no disadvantage if you did not come from one of those companies.
But let’s go back to how you’ve changed the premise… and yes, this post is morphing into a very long answer.
We actually don’t think that the absolute numbers are what you believe.
We’d hypothesize that one reason you may think that “most of them” come from a great pedigree is simply due to the name-recognition factor; you’re looking at a profile that says Company X and your brain easily lodges the info; you see a handful of them and it feels like everyone went to Company X. No-Name Company A and No-Name Company B don’t lodge in your brain ‘cuz you’ve never heard of them before. It’s just like what happens when you learn a new word – now all of a sudden you see it everywhere. There’s even a word for this: the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. What we’ve described is “selective attention.” You notice something, then you notice it more, and it seems like it’s everywhere, it’s inescapable.
So that’s just our theory on what’s happening with you. Another theory is that perhaps those from big companies are more inclined to post profiles on LinkedIn etc. Regardless, there’s no way you can be looking at the profiles of everyone who’s graduated; we’re talking 900 people at Harvard alone. So we know that your sample is skewed. While we can’t claim that our sample is definitely representative, we would be willing to bet that it’s directionally so.
We don’t argue the truth that there’s lots of people from brand-name companies at top schools. Certain big companies do feed a lot into bschools. Some of them are almost pre-MBA machines; if you’re at one of those places, you have advantages, due to everyone who’s gone before who can help you. Some firms even offer on-site MBA admissions consulting and lots of support, and certainly the people doing recommendations from those companies have done it before and tend to do a good job for their people. This may be one reason why we don’t get as many of them seeking help from the ‘Snark – we do get some, definitely, we have experience across the gamut of profiles and backgrounds. But sure, we’ll give you that; it’s possible our data is not explicitly representative of the entire population of successes.
Regardless, the fact is that a huge number of people we work with do get into school (and we work with huge numbers) and most of them are not from big-name companies, and that gives enough proof that our assertion is true: As we stated in the original post, the thinking that “I’m at a disadvantage because I don’t have any ‘brand name’ companies on my resume” is BS.
Or you can ask the schools. ALL OF THEM will tell you that it’s not necessary.
There’s two easy reasons that the schools may choose a bunch of these kids:
1) Getting into a great university or being hired by a top firm means you’ve “passed the test” – those acceptances show you’ve met some criteria and you’re ahead of your peers; it’s very tough to get through those screening processes, just as it is to get into a top MBA program, and so having done so in the past gives evidence that you’re an overachiever – this is definitely the CORRELATION bit.
and 2) The schools are huge and need to fill their classes from somewhere. The MBA is the natural next step for many people who started in consulting or finance, and the schools place lots of grads out into consulting and finance. The schools are just tapping a natural market.
At the same time, none of the schools want too many people from any one company, since that squashes the whole notion of diversity. In fact, it can sometimes be very difficult for those applying from the top companies to get in because too many of their colleagues have already been admitted. Or the person they want to do their recommendation has already written five recs this year. It’s even MORE competitive for these people.
Not that most of you will have too much sympathy for that. 😉
We spoke of some of this in a thread on GMAT Club recently and of course we’ve been discussing these issues for weeks here on the blahg with the stuff about the “Harvard ‘type'” and pretty much every Success Story you can read on this site is from someone who was not at one of these marquee name firms.
Not sure what else we need to do to convince you.
(And not to be argumentative, but the question seems a little silly, why would we write a whole post about something that our data and years of experience did not support?)
And oh yeah: We did in fact have a client who worked in a pawn shop once. He made it in. Never had someone working at Goldie Hawn’s Shop though – but they probably would have some good luck with their apps too, given that everyone thinks that you need to know someone famous to get into Harvard. We should probably deal with that myth sometime too huh.