You probably don’t consider yourself a stereotypical anything. But certain career paths in certain fields like finance and consulting tend to look an awful lot alike from one person to the next. Sure, maybe you switched from IB to PE two years after college. Used to be, that was a really big feat to pull…
One of the very resilient myths out there in MBA Admissions Land is that you need to work for some big-brand famous-name company in order to get into Whanvard. We’ve covered such myths many times before:
- 3 Myths about MBA Admissions
- *Really* debunking the “big-name company” myth
- And this alternate take: 5 Myths about MBA admissions – and why they’re actually true
If the companies you’ve worked at aren’t recognizable names that your admissions reader will instantly know about, then yes you do need to utilize particular techniques in how you present your work history on your resume and how you introduce your achievements at those companies when discussing them in essays (basically, you set context to convey what you do and what the company does, or for the clunkiest method of all, you use parenthesis on the resume to state the industry the company operates in — which we don’t actually recommend, since there’s more elegant ways to convey it, but many people do this and it’s fine). We coach on these more-elegant techniques in our Reworking the Resume App Accelerator and provide feedback about it as needed in the Essay Decimator essay reviews too.
The adcoms do not care that you have not worked for a famous company. They do not care that you have not worked for a company of any certain size. They only care about the impact you’ve had, given the circumstances and situations you’ve been in. Size of company and type of employer are totally irrelevant.
The other tricky angle is if you work for a family business, but even that is not a problem per se; it just needs to be handled carefully. Check out the ‘snarchive on family business for a starting point if that’s you.
There’s one way that working at a big company might be an incredible advantage.
Or more precisely, working at certain big companies. In certain locations. Like major cities on the East and West Coasts of the United States.
The advantage is this: The admissions directors of top bschools tend to go to those companies to do private info sessions just for them.
When a company hires a lot of undergrads from a university like the University of Pennsylvania, and then two years later, many of those employees are in the market for applying to bschool, then it makes sense that Wharton — and Harvard, and Columbia, and Stanford — may want to be attracting interest from them. When there are deep connections of a university to an employer, then these not-open-to-the-public meet-and-greets tend to happen more.
It seems royally unfair that an admissions director of a top school will be going to your company and spending a few hours there. But that’s how it works in the Real World.
We’ve even heard of some companies hiring admissions consultants to work with all of their analysts on their apps. Wow, talk about a perk of employment!
If you’re in a position to take advantage of any of these on-site meetings with admissions folks, then obviously we say, take advantage! If you’re just some shmuck who’s at a small firm doing good in your community, you’ll need to work harder for your access to admissions.
Such access does not guarantee anything. Even the Mr. Important candidate from Elite-Prestige, Inc. is gonna have to impress the admissions reader when time comes for that app to be submitted. But still. It seems like the playing field is tilted just a tad, that the business schools do this. The answer they give is, it’s the same information they make available publicly at any other info session, and they offer those aplenty at this time of year. It just rubs the wrong way, at least to us, the little guy always concerned about trying to be fair.