Hey gddunton - OK so here's the deal: That resume needs to be redone. The biggest issue is your very non-standard two-column format with Experience and Education both at the top. This is very (!!!) difficult to scan and absorb; you're hurting yourself by using a presentation that's so far from the norm.
In addition, the content needs a lot of help. Apologies in advance for such a blatant upsell but you really need the Reworking Your Resume App Accelerator
. You've got functional descriptions of your work rather than statements of contribution; you don't have your college internship called out separately; you've got a gazillion acronyms and jargon and such... that's just what we see in 2 seconds. This is not presenting your strengths and skills for bschool in the best way possible and in fact the current format makes it hard to even see what your career and educational history truly is.
But back to your questions: Basically, you're overthinking it - and you may be assuming that the adcom a) knows more about your industry than they do; and b) cares. Both of those companies are decent-sized and the schools may be familiar with them, but even if they aren't, a company's 'prestige' doesn't matter
- nor does perceived prestige of one versus another play any part in an adcom's impressions of you. At least, not in this particular case. If someone had gone from a career at McKinsey to taking a job as a barista at Starbucks, well then yes, you'd want to explain that - not that there's anything to be ashamed about if you work as a barista! But that type of transition in jobs would warrant some discussion. In your case, it's unlikely if the adcom is even going to realize that there's any difference between these two companies - they're not firms that the schools are likely to have on their radar too often. That's neither good nor bad. As you phrased the question to us, this is a lateral move and that alone won't raise any questions. The schools would appreciate getting a little insight into why you took the job but nobody would question the transition in and of itself.
Bottom line: The one-sentence explanation that you included in your PM to us, within the quotation marks, would be absolutely appropriate, and all that you need. You definitely would never want to write an optional essay in a case like this.
So that's the discussion of this issue from the position of "is it a weakness?"
To your question #3 in the list above (in your original post to us), this potentially could be a topic that's essay-worthy for particular schools... it really depends on what the school is and the entirety of your thinking around why you made the career move, what the ramifications have been, evaluation of risk, what you've done on the job since, etc etc etc - we're only making this point to show how something like this might work for an essay to position things positively and give insight into the background while answering a question in a multidimensional way. The main essay question we're thinking of in this context for this year's apps would be MIT essay 2. There's others too probably but that one could be a candidate.
Hope that helps - and even if we freaked you out about the resume, at least we took away the other issue, and now you know you don't have to worry about it!
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