Monday, March 14, 2011
BY GERALD M. BRADSHAW
Bradshaw College Consulting
Dear Mr. Bradshaw: --My daughter insists she needs to go to a top college because she’ll have a better chance to get a job in a top high-tech company. I say it is too expensive, and the colleges in Indiana are fine. Who is right?
After all, as a parent, my main goal is to make sure a college education will assure a good future for my daughter. — A Parent
Dear Parent —
This is a question parents frequently ask, and for good reason; it costs twice as much to attend an out-of-state college, and the cost of attending a college in the Ivy League is expensive.
Indiana has several good colleges, so why pay more to attend a top college out of state?
Your daughter is partially right. Top companies like Google and Facebook hire most of their employees almost exclusively from top-tier colleges.
But when you dig a little deeper into the hiring process, much more is revealed. Top grades, SAT scores, grade-point averages and even work experience also can be critical.
One former client who works at Google said his job experience got him through the door, not his educational pedigree. He graduated from Indiana University as a Wells Scholar, moved to San Francisco for law school, and specialized in venture transactions while studying at the University of California Hastings College of the Law.
His first job out of law school was with a small law firm specializing in startup companies. He later was hired at Google over other applicants from Harvard and Stanford. He said Google was more interested in his past work experience in venture financing, not in the school he attended.
A Crown Point High School graduate with a University of Pennsylvania bachelor’s degree in economics told me Google hires almost exclusively from elite universities. She said 90 students were part of her initial group. After three days of interviews averaging one per hour, only 30 were hired.
Of the 30 new hires in her group, only one did not graduate from the Ivy League. That person graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. She said very little data is available to support her experience because companies want to keep their hiring profiles secret.
She also said candidates’ GPAs were as important as their elite school status, adding that an engineering degree was prized highest among all majors. This leaves an opening for students who do not want to pay the premium for attending an Ivy League college, yet would like to work for one of America’s top technology companies.
I have several former clients who graduated from Cal-Berkeley, Stanford, MIT and Cal Tech who work at Google and Facebook. This speaks to the quality of the education they received at those schools, and the networking that helped them because of their professors who have links to the best companies.
It would behoove you to find out which companies recruit at the college you ultimately attend.
There is an elite bias at some top companies, but it is not insurmountable. The personal interview is much more important to the hiring process than is commonly thought, so prepare for a series of stressful interviews.
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