This post has little to do with Harvard, even though many if not most of you applicants will be Harvard-focused today. This post has everything to do with how you talk about your future post-MBA goals. The reason it has little to do with Harvard is that career goals may or may not come up in an HBS interview (fingers crossed you have or will score one this week!). For most other schools, you can expect questions around why you want an MBA, which really is, what are you planning to do with it and why it’s the right next step for you as you move forward in life and career.
Many BSers just use the word “Google” as a placeholder in their career goals essays. They’re basically saying “I want to go work for some sexy company in Silicon Valley.” They don’t seem to care much what they’ll be doing there — though product management is often the function they target. They also aren’t necessarily that attached to actually going to Google. They’d be just as happy at any of the FANGs. Or FAANGs depending on how precise you want to be. Or wait no shouldn’t it be FAAANs?
To these BSers we say: Make sure you’re doing your research.
These days there’s at least as many applicants saying they want to go into prodmgmt at Google as there are into consulting at McKinsey. So let’s look at some numbers.
McKinsey took 55 grads from Columbia’s Class of 2017 . Only 7 went to Google.
McKinsey took 55 grads again from Columbia’s Class of 2018 . Only 3 went to Google.
Perhaps more interesting?
Students in the Columbia Class of 2018 were doing their internships in 2017. Google hired 9 Columbia interns that summer.
There’s no way of knowing if the 3 2018 grads had been at Google in summer 2017, but it’s likely they were.
So did Google decline to extend offers to the 6 other 2017 interns? Or did those students get offers, and turn them down in favor of other opportunities?
Impossible to say.
When BSers write in their Columbia essays that they want to go to work for Google post-MBA, then we hope they are looking at these numbers.
We’re using Columbia as a representative school; the trends that you see in their numbers are pretty similar to what you’ll see at many other top schools, too.
Whether Google is hiring 3 or 9 or 12 in a given year out of Columbia Business School, these are very small portions of the class. There’s usually around 750 to 775 students graduating from Columbia every May. Going with 9 grads to Google out of 750 is just 1% of the class.
Sure, we get it, when you say “Google” you’re using that as shorthand for “any cool tech company” and you probably implicitly mean to include Facebook and Amazon. But when you only say “Google” then that makes us wonder, have you done the research you need to be? And why Google?
Please don’t say it’s because you want to make a difference.
Have you actually looked at what Google is doing?
And anyway, when you say “Google” what business do you even mean?
And what, pray tell, do you imagine your role helping Google get richer is going to do to save the world?
Going at least one step beyond the obvious would help.
Besides, there’s a gazillion companies out there, and some of them are actually hiring MBA grads in numbers these days. Microsoft is seeing a resurgence in interest again; they’d been an out-of-favor company for awhile, seen as old and stodgy and not trendy like they once were a generation ago. But they’re making a good pitch to bschool students and scooping up plenty of folks with solid jobs. Why not tell the adcom you want to work at Microsoft? Not sexy enough?
Twenty years ago, Wall Street was where it was at. That’s where the cachet jobs were happening, where everyone wanted to go. IB was the thing.
About 15 years, everyone trying for top bschools wanted to go into hedge funds, or private equity.
Then it turned to impact investing.
Then social venture.
Consulting has been the standby through all of it.
Now everyone either wants to be an entrepreneur, or go to a startup. (Pro Tip: Uber is not a startup. Please pay attention to what you are saying.)
If you wrote something like this in your MBA essays and then you get the exciting invite to interview, make sure you know what you’re talking about before you go in. If you can’t speak with intelligence about this thing you’re saying you want to go do, that kinda undermines it as a thing, ya know?
Obviously things may change as you actually start your education and learn more about opportunities and discover what you’re good at and what interests you. But being able to defend the argument for admission you made in the essays a few short weeks ago is a very good place to begin as you work out your strategy for presenting yourself effectively in this prime opportunity of the MBA interview.
And oh yeah: If you’ve gotten an invite to interview, congratulations and good luck!!! 🙂
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