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B-School Making Us All Politicians

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B-School Making Us All Politicians [#permalink] New post 29 Mar 2007, 20:02
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There is community service work that I have done for several years that I didn't include in my apps because I typed it out in rough drafts of essays and it just seemed ridiculous on paper. Without getting into exactly what the volunteer work is, let me just give an example, let's say someone wrote:

"For the past three years I've been going to a burn-ward of a local hospital and reading stories to children who have been in terrible accidents that have left them disfigured. It's been very rewarding for me, I love making these children smile and forget their troubles."

Isn't it kind of f-d up to be doing something nice like that, and then using it as currency to gain entrance into f-ng business school?!

I'm not trying to pretend I'm Mr. Ethical (I'm clearly not) and I'm not judging anyone who lists their community service activities. If I was in some leadership position at the local United Way, of course I would have put that on my applications, because that kind of makes sense, it's a position where you are leading or demonstrating some sort of skills. But the nature of my volunteer work is not so..I don't know what the word is..maybe "corporate" or "bureaucratic," it's something that I don't want to put down on paper and say, "Look, here's proof that I care about other people and I care about getting involved." I'm willing to go to an interview and "toot my horn" when it comes to talking about my analytical skills or how I love working in teams and really get along well with people blah blah blah, but I don't want to take something that is personal totally done out of good-will or altruism and commodify it to stack up on the scale next to my GMAT score.

Anybody remember the 2004 DNC when John Kerry brought all those Swift Boat soldiers up on stage, the guys who he was in Vietnam with? He parades them up there and the message is loud and clear: I'm a war hero, I'm brave, right guys? Remember when I saved your lives back in Nam, that was awesome. Well look, it's payback time, try and make me look good, tell everyone I'm a hero.

I've really felt like a politician the last several months. From the super-stiff conversations that I've had in admissions office waiting rooms (you know, sitting around waiting for the class to start, hanging out with other visiting students, "Hi, are you visiting a class too?" "No, I'm interviewing." "Oh wonderful, best of luck") to my essays where I describe how interesting I am and how incredibly excited I am about joining this school that I didn't know existed three months prior. "I believe that I will be a valuable addition to [fill in the blank]. Whether I'm kissing [fill in name of prominent professor]'s @ss in class, or scoring the winning [goal, home run, basket] in the annual [whatever stupid game the school holds each spring] I will be a a great fit."

But the worst part is the community service part. I guess what p*sses me off is that I know so many i-banker jackasses that have conversations like, "Dude, is that Brooks Brothers? Lame. You should get a job in Private Equity so you can afford nice clothes." And these dipsh*ts scrape together whatever token community service they can, then blow it up and glamourize it in their essays. I mean do ad-coms really not see through this?

Okay, not to get totally cynical, but just kind of letting off some steam here. I hate the selling-out that you have to do to get into school. But I realize that it has to kind of be that way.
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 [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2007, 04:55
I couldn't agree more.

There are schools I didn't apply to because I knew I had no chance with my lack of volunteer work and extracurricular involvement. Then you run into people who go to these schools and they're the biggest c***s you've ever met in your life.

I realized early on that this was going to a major weakness in my applications but decided that I wasn't going to let it bother me. I work 55 hours a week and in my free time I hang out with my girlfriend, go out on the town with my buddies or play pick-up ball on the courts behind my apartment building. I also like watching trashy TV shows when I get home from work in the evening. If that doesn't make me well-rounded person then so be it. I never tried to hide that fact and to my surprise, most schools were still willing to take me.

One of the things that you hear quite a bit from guide books, consultants, and even schools is something along the lines of: Extracurriculars and volunteer work are important but don't do something boring like Habitat or Soup Kitchens because thats not very special. Instead you should do something more unique so that you stand out more. In fact we suggest you found your own 3 person do-nothing organization for some BS cause over substantive volunteer work. How f-ed up is that?
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 [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2007, 06:27
I love that they come out and say, "We're looking for some really sexy community service. Habitat for Humanity is so passe, we want people who build birdhouses for one-winged sparrows, or people who throw a "charity" event (aka tax-shelter) at some dive bar in Manhattan, where they charge all their friends 30 dollars to come drink their faces off, you know, something that shows inititative."
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 [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2007, 06:58
Which schools demand true community service? I thought they usually want leadership experience and one way of showing leadership, other than at the workplace, was through some community service/clubs etc.

I would've thought that something like "organized volleyball league or intramural tourney" would've been more valuable than nursing the elderly.

At any rate, I just want to admit that I totally sold out in my essays and I used something that I used to do "because I loved it" into "something that made me look like a good leader"
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 [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2007, 07:21
well said Johnny/Dukes

I wont change myself for a Bschool admission, i am what i am
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 [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2007, 07:25
Fluffy - And I totally sold out in a lot of ways too. Like I said, I had no problem whipping up rough drafts of my rec's etc...

I think you're right, schools are most interested in showing leadership through any sort of extra-curriculars, but I got the impression from Paul Bodine that actual community service was almost necessary for some ultra-elites.
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 [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2007, 09:10
I think the application process is just setup to show you that you need to be able to sell yourself and sell your story.

It is no different than a job interview or being on The Apprentice.

The fact that cynical people do good things with intention of using it as leverage for bschool does not detract from the fact that they have done good things. The focus on extra's for bschool is probably responsible, at least in some small way, with increasing volunteerism. Hopefully many of those people who were just doing it for the app will decide it was actually worth it as a long term commitment.

Either way, more good stuff is getting done because of this facet of the application process, and I don't see a problem with practicing the skill of selling your story, a skill you will need during and after bschool, so it naturally should be something they test during the application.
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 [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2007, 10:14
I don't disagree with you go-getter. I totally understand the reasons why the process is the way it is. But it does chafe me a bit in principle that volunteerism gets commodified. Or that ad-com's pass judgement on people based on a snapshot of a person's lifestyle that may or may not be indicative of what the person is really like. But again, I probably wouldn't run things too much differently if I worked in admissions.
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 [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2007, 10:47
johnnyx9 and dukes, I agree with you 100%. I can honestly tell you that if I were the hiring person at an investment bank or with a similar employer seeing these extracurricular activities would not have a positive bearing upon a hiring decision.

I fail to see a nexus between participating in Habitat for Humanity or something similar and being a successful as an MBA student or business person. I realize that some business schools might favor someone who had worked at a nonprofit for 4 years prior to applying to business school over someone who had been working 60+ hours per week at a profitable business, but I doubt that a post MBA-employer would look favorably upon a resume like that. I don't know for sure, but I would bet that some post-MBA employers would think that person basically wasted 4 years that could have been better spent.

It's almost as though business schools are engaging in a social engineering experiment and they think that requiring MBA applicants to participate in extracurricular activities like this is going to make them more productive members of society after graduation.
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 [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2007, 11:49
Snaggletooth wrote:
johnnyx9 and dukes, I agree with you 100%. I can honestly tell you that if I were the hiring person at an investment bank or with a similar employer seeing these extracurricular activities would not have a positive bearing upon a hiring decision.



I would agree with that point. I have done a lot of volunteering and the first thing I am going to do to my post-application resume is kill 90% of that from my resume so I have room for bullet points on transferable skills etc. However, I will leave remnants so that it can come up in conversation perhaps at the beginning or end of the interview.

Its no secret bschools want well-rounded candidates, its just something you have to put up front on the bschool app whereas in the business world it is just a conversation piece. Bschools want people who are going to start/participate in clubs, whereas business just want productive workers with leadership potential.

I dont think it is a social experiement because bschools dont really care WHAT you are involved in, you just have to be involved.
  [#permalink] 30 Mar 2007, 11:49
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