When you go to fill your prescriptions one of the first decisions you have to make is whether to go for the name brand or generic drug. While most may say that their is a huge difference, if you ask a doctor if their is, they will tell you their really isn’t. Just like with medicine, everyday brings new choices, and among those choices is whether to choose the name brand, or the run of the mill generics.
Currently, we are recruiting talent college students to be part of our Entrepreneurship Internship Program. For our internship program we listed at the top 50 schools across the nation. After interviewing many students who are interested in the program, I began to think how big of a role a college’s name has to do with getting a job. On a resume, one of the first things that you list is where you went to school. For my own personal opinion, if someone wrote down on their resume that they went to the best school in the nation, I would be impressed. But the question I asked myself was why? While I didn’t want to create a bias against other applicants, it is hard to not to have some expectations of the applicant. Still, the interview proved to me that a college’s name can only get you so far.
The applicant that I interviewed was anything but stellar and made me realize that ‘brand names’ are just a name. The applicant was incoherent during the interview and was obviously unprepared. No matter what your resume says, your resume cannot speak words nor can it tell others why you should get the position. After having more interviews that resulted in the same way I began to think if we were targeting the right colleges. As a startup company you face many big decisions, one of which is finding the right personnel to join your company. If you think of your company as a boat, then your employees are the propeller that moves you.
Choosing a college to go to is perhaps one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life. Not only does it shape your future but for four years of your life you discover who ‘you’ are. For many of us, choosing between the big name school and the small lesser known school is a complicated and stressful decision. A simple way to look at it is this situation:
You have two cars: One is a Ferrari but ugly and has few things you like, and one is a no-name brand but has every feature that you want. Making the decision is hard because their are little things about each you want. You want the big name, but you also want it to have the things you want. In an ideal situation you can get both, but things rarely turn out that way. I once learned in school that “for every gain, there is a loss.” In the same sense, choosing one college over another can have that kind of impact.
In the corporate world, students that graduate from the big name, easily recognizable schools are treated differently than others that come from a lesser known school. By treated differently, I mean are given more opportunities for jobs.
Why does that happen?
Michael Jordan is considered to be one of the greatest basketball players who ever lived. As a result of this, his children will always be expected to be naturally gifted and good at sports. Using the same comparison, students that graduate from big name schools carry on that ‘legacy.’ When people hear that you graduated from “so and so” school, they will immediately begin to associate you with what the school was known for or what they have heard about it. The corporate world is much the same. Send them a resume from a top school in the nation and you have already impressed them. Send them a resume from a small school and the rest of your resume will have to be stunning and impressive.
Today, I spoke with my good friend and CMO, Jun Loayza, about the impact a college’s name has. I remember when Jun first interviewed me for Future Delivery, I was super excited to talk with him. I had practiced and prepared for our interview hoping to impress and be memorable. The one fear that I will confess is that I was afraid that my resume would not be as outstanding as other applicants. While I graduated from one of the Top 40 public universities in the nation, my school was relatively unknown because of its location. Speaking with Jun about the impact of a colleges name, Jun said that
“in a corporate world, your school’s name has a big impact. Big companies recruit from the big schools. For an entrepreneur, not as much.”
So what kind of impact is it? Well for starters it is getting your foot through the door. That is one of the hardest parts. From their it is your ‘job’ to sell yourself.
Whether you come from a big name school, or a lesser known school, as I mentioned before: your resume and college can’t interview for you. If you are able to get an interview with a company don’t rely on your resume or the college you went to. Remember, they want to interview you, not the school.