After browsing popular career based/MBA based websites like gmatclub, wallstreetoasis, and beatthegmat for several years, I’ve come across one very notable commonality: prestige. Now I’m not talking about the relative prestige of each of these websites, or even the prestige of the anonymous personas that patrol these websites. I’m talking about the never-ending search that some people are on for status and prestige. Why is it that so many perspective MBA applicants fall into this category as well? Here are a few reasons applicants and students give for following this path.
First, high-prestige jobs such as associate positions and JP Sachs or McKBainGroup pay well. Really well. For MBAs looking at six-figures of debt, having a job that can top $200k in the first year is very alluring.
Second, these jobs provide sort of a rubber stamp of approval. Having a blue chip name on your resume proves you’ve been vetted and accepted by a top firm, that has a strong reputation for being a tough job to land. Thus you are, in turn, a strong candidate for another job down the road.
Finally, and for this one I’m really looking at you WSO, it is the ultimate measuring stick. So many of the personas on these websites will talk big about how JP Sachs and McKBainGroup are the only places worth being, while Deutsche Bank of America and AT Deloitte & Co. are jokes and should be avoided at all costs. They mention how these “black marks” on your resume will forever weigh you down in your professional career.
Just stop. This whole argument of prestige is insane. Sure these jobs tend to pay more, but you’ll probably have to live in NYC or San Francisco. What do you think that does to your take home pay, regardless if you’re making $200k right out of school? Furthermore, do you really need that rubber stamp of approval? To get these jobs, you probably already have been weighed and measured; you’ve been accepted to a top business school. Adding a prestige job is icing on the cake, but by no means a requirement for future success. Finally, the eternal competition is fine among peers in similar industries, but don’t try to tell me for a second that someone who goes to Goldman is definitely going to have the better career than the person that goes to Credit Suisse. Sure, as a whole, GS has been a better place to be for most functions, but that doesn’t mean that CS is a sweatshop that won’t pay well and has no exit options.
What ever happened to people doing jobs that they were excited about, and in places that they felt the most comfortable? I’m not saying that taking a banking job, or taking a consulting job is selling out at all. There are definitely people who are great fits for those industries and excel in those roles. I’m just imploring you to aspire to be more than your resume, because there are definitely people in those industries and roles that are only there for the prestige, and that just sucks.