January 24, 2011

Northwestern Professor Says Cornell Degree Does Not Carry Weight

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Recruiters at top law firms, consulting agencies and investmentbanks are no longer that interested in hiring Cornell graduates, a forthcoming paper by Prof. Lauren Rivera, management and organizations, Northwestern University said.  The study states that having a degree from Cornell, Brown University, or Massachusetts Institute of Technology does not carry nearly as much weight in the professional world as a degree from Harvard, Yale or Princeton. The top firms in those industries focus on applicants from these specific schools, as well as Stanford, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia. The report provided an example of what a top consultant said about MIT students at a Harvard career fair: “You will find it when you go to like career fairs or something and you know someone will show up and say, you know, ‘Hey, I didn’t go to Harvard Business School but, you know, I am an engineer at MIT and I heard about this fair and I wanted to come meet you in New York.’ God bless him for the effort but, you know, it’s just not going to work.”However, a recent Cornell alumnus working at Credit Suisse, a financial services company, disagrees with the extent to which students at the University have a comparative disadvantage in recruitment at the top investment banks. The alumnus requested anonymity, citing contractual obligations with his employer not to make public statements about the firm. “[Cornell is] not a target school, for example, for [my firm] … There are no on-campus interviews, [but] I don’t think Cornell is at a unique disadvantage,” the alumnus said. “I think the article is a bit exaggerated. There are just more students at Cornell so we are competing for fewer spots.” Another alumnus working on Wall Street, who also requested anonymity due to contractual obligations, explained that a school’s predominance at a firm varies by job function. “It is not necessarily an ‘Ivy club’ across the desks, but you will find that different studies and different schools tend to be scattered across different functions,” the alumnus said. “I know a lot of really ‘quantitative’ desks that are filled with math majors and engineers from MIT, etc.”Contrary to Rivera’s findings, few Ivies were mentioned in a Sept. 13 Wall Street Journal article that listed 25 top-rated schools by recruiters. Cornell was number 14 in that survey, the only Ivy listed.

Original Author: Melissa Kim