Yeah, that’s a little harsh, but we’ve got our boxers in a twist at the moment. (And sorry for the late post today… we were debating whether to put this one up at all.)
For many years now, EssaySnark has been offering pro bono MBA admissions consulting work for members of the military and alumni from Teach for America and the Peace Corps. We do this because we really appreciate someone who has a mentality of service and has dedicated their early careers to giving back to the system, and also because we know that people in these service fields aren’t exactly being paid the beaucoup bucks.
Not that our services are all that expensive in the first place. But, you know, you get a lot out of life, as we have, you’re obligated to give some back. At least, that’s basically where we’re coming from with it.
We are not doing it for accolades and recognition. We’re doing it because it’s our aesthetic. (If you want to learn more about this type of orientation to life, you can check out a very good book on the subject of giving and success, called Give and Take by Wharton prof Adam Grant.)
Now, just recently, we’ve started to wonder about the kind of people who we’re lavishing these free goodies upon. This probably won’t make us stop offering these freebies, but it sure has given us pause.
Of the free Comprehensive Profile Reviews that we’ve done this year, none of the recipients has even acknowledged receipt. Oh wait, take that back; one of them did… after we asked about it. Here’s how that exchange went:
On Wed, Apr 2, 2014 at 3:03 PM, Military Snark wrote:
Hello XXXX —
Your free Comprehensive Profile Review was delivered on 1/9/14. We never heard back from you. Was it received?
On Fri, Apr 4, 2014 at 12:55 PM, XXX wrote to Military Snark:
Yes, I received the profile review. Thank you for the analysis.
Well. They told us, now didn’t they? Didn’t even sign the damn email.[Update: Since first drafting this a week or so ago, another one of these guys sent an email with some thanks – but again, not till after we followed up.]
It’s not like we’re looking for all these oohs and ahhs of appreciation. But check it out: Those reports we produce, they average like 13 pages. This is not no trivial thumbs-up/thumbs-down read on your profile. We dig in and look at the details. Each one takes about two hours of our time. We don’t cut any corners because it’s free; we give you the exact-same service that we give to others who plunk down 150 bucks for it (the whole thing should cost even more than that, but whatever).
Why should we continue doing these for free for a group of ungrateful punks?
Because yeah, that’s kinda how we feel about some of you right about now.
Like, c’mon. How hard is it to send a simple email to say ‘Thanks’?
Didn’t your mama teach you no manners?
Sheesh people. As you can see, we’re rather disillusioned at the moment.
Some of our strongest relationships to date are with military candidates who have gone through this process and ended up at great schools. We’re big fans of some vets currently at places like Columbia, Duke and Cornell. We’re still in touch with some who’ve already graduated and gone out into the world – we know some vets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi, Amazon, and Goldman Sachs, among other top firms. You guys can be quite successful in life. We’ve also spent the last season rooting from the sidelines for a bunch of military applicants who are now headed to MIT, Wharton, and Booth. We love you guys. We’re going to continue to give back to the system and especially to try and help those who serve make a smooth transition back into civilian life. The MBA can be a great path for a soldier.
The very best way to say “thanks” to anything the ‘Snark may have provided as input into your process is to go on and achieve success: Get into a great school, go on to an awesome new career. We totally dig it when we hear back from people who have done that – and we know that it’s due to their efforts, not ours, that they made it happen. It’s not like you wouldn’t have gotten to where you are except for that 15-page report that we provided to you at the beginning. We’re not interested in taking credit for all your success.
We’re just a little surprised at how this has gone lately. You guys are making us feel old; we’ve got those “Damn kids these days!” thoughts running around the head.
Military candidates, we’d love for you to step up and show us the type of people you are – that we know you to be. Maybe a couple guys got sloppy or forgetful or whatever. We know you’re not all like that. (If you’re thinking about engaging EssaySnark and taking us up on our offer of freebies for the military, then here’s what you can do: To prove that you read this post and you care about the reputation of your military cohort, then when you send in your credentials with the request for access to the Military MBA site, we encourage you to say so – in fact, anyone who includes the statement “I care about good manners” in their request will be approved for a free review – if that clause is missing we’ll know you didn’t read this, or you don’t care about manners (!), and that says a lot too!)
And to show that we aren’t holding a grudge: We just published a special getting-in guide specifically to help military candidates navigate the waters of MBA admissions. It’s designed to assist your planning and strategy as you start the process. We lay it out straight in terms of how military candidates are evaluated and what’s different with this candidate pool.
We originally planned to give this puppy away to qualified servicemembers and vets.
What we’re doing instead is we’ve slapped a nominal price on it – $ 9.95. We will offer it as a freebie with the purchase of any MBA admissions consulting services for military BSers.
And we’ll keep an open mind on how this little pro bono initiative of ours may proceed from here. If the doormat treatment ceases, then we’ll make this new Military MBA guide available for free as originally intended. Let’s see how things go.
Since this posting in April, we’ve done 20 more of these freebie profile reviews, and we’ve been amazed and impressed with the backgrounds and qualifications – and humility – of the majority of these military BSers.
HOWEVER: Of those 20, there are still five people who never wrote back or acknowledged the service in any way.
Five people. Out of 20.
A 25% schmuck rate is not a good number.
We’ve also now blasted past the total value of pro bono services provided in all of 2013 – and it’s only August. We’ve contributed over $6500 in free services to military and other do-gooder types so far in 2014. That’s kind of a lot. Each of those profile reviews takes several hours and even the retail price of $149 nowhere compensates us for the time – nor does it accurately reflect the value to a BSer. And we offer them FOR FREE.
Why should we continue to do these?
That’s a serious question. Your ideas and input in the comments to this post are welcome.
Well, we had in fact been continuing with these over the past few months, and we met a bunch more truly impressive servicemembers along the way. But between the weird one-line “requests” for free stuff that we got from some people, and several more instances of delivering a couple hours worth of work into a complete void of nothingness… we started to have second (third? tenth?) thoughts on all this.
Here’s a winner of a response we just received from one person – oh wait. In full disclosure, we need to share with you what we wrote first. Here was our follow-up, sent 10 days after delivering his free profile report:
We made sure to deliver your profile review before your GMAT test, as you had requested, even though we didn’t get the questionnaire submitted until the last minute. You logged on to retrieve the report. Then nothing.
No, it was not a sugar-coated email. ‘Cuz this lack of manners is, like, you know, ANNOYING.
We’ll save you the full extent of the rant we got back and just post this final paragraph that he sent (within 20 minutes of us sending ours):
You (and the company you represent) really SHOULD discontinue your pro-bono for military if your primary purpose for offering it is solely to get our business or to earn our gratitude. If you want to continue offering it as a service to THANK servicemen and women for serving YOU and protecting YOUR FREEDOMS, than that is awesome.
Yeah, we are in fact thinking of discontinuing it… Thanks.
After reflecting on the whole situation overnight we are indeed pulling the plug on our pro bono program for 2014. We donated over $10k in free services to you military types in 10 months this year and that’s a pretty good run! We will continue offering blahg access and many serious discounts on our admissions consulting services for military candidates. You can read what’s currently available on our Military MBA page.
Well, call us suckers, but we started this thing up again.