We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The key word is pedigree: the array of background traits, including the cultural, social, and educational capital passed from one generation to the next, which EPS candidates bring to the competition for elite jobs. But it’s a closed competition. One must get through the gates first. A candidate’s pedigree determines whether his or her application to an EPS firm is legitimately considered in the competition, or tossed in a slush pile of candidates who have no realistic chance to even compete for such jobs.
Of course, pedigree has always been influential in hiring decisions for first jobs at elite professional service firms. While Rivera acknowledges this, she contends that the rules surrounding pedigree have changed over the generations. Although elite employers have always hired on the basis of pedigree, the mechanism is now far more indirect. Finding young talent to fill society’s most important and highly paid jobs once was based on descent, the handing over of familial economic power from one generation to the next.
Today, elites have modernized the rules of entry. Rather than explicit bloodlines being the determining factor, the outcome biased toward elites is interpreted as just the rational outcome of the “meritocracy” at work. Now, just as elite colleges contend that they admit students on the basis of cognitive talent, elite employers claim their highly competitive hiring practices lead to finding the best and brightest young employees.
But the way elites choose talent is hardly an open competition, Rivera argues. Rather, EPS hiring is a “sponsored contest.” While any college graduate is free to apply for a position, only those who are pre-qualified are actually permitted to compete. The most important pre-qualification is earning a degree from one of two types of schools. Generally, EPS firms maintain two lists of colleges from which they draw the applicant pool. First is small list of so-called “core” schools that have fed firms’ talent requirements for decades. The relationships are historic, steadfast, and habitual. Think Ivy League, especially colleges that are within a few hours drive from power centers of finance, banking and law.
Next is a list of “target” schools that firms have relied on for talent, but to a far lesser extent than core schools. The pivotal difference between a sponsored and an open competition is the behavior of gatekeepers in seeking talent. EPS firms go to great efforts to seek out the kinds of college graduates that fit the firm’s culture. The firms go to the students, spending valuable time and money traveling to the listed campuses and recruiting for their applicant pool.
I think this is far less true today than in the past. However, admission to a highly-elite school demonstrates something of value and speeds up the vetting process. My advice: Save your admissions letters but go somewhere you can afford.
Barrister--your advice is good ideology, but poor strategy for the individual. It all depends on the field of study. If, for example, a student wants to specialize in environmental law, that student should attend an undergraduate school that will give a good foundation in literature and a pertinent science, i.e. biology, chemistry. Then upon completing undergraduate studies that student should apply to a law school that focuses on "environmental law". A student desiring a career in architecture is very poorly served by going to the local state college whose architecture program ranks in the low 150's and has no faculty with advanced degrees or interest in research, etc. An architecture program that is run by the same poorly qualified faculty member for 30 years turns out generations of mediocre architects and the elite firms know exactly which programs are turning out poorly prepared, poorly educated architects-they also know which departments are truly turning out brilliantly prepared architects! My point is that it depends on the specialty. Any engineering school can turn out a reasonably well prepared engineer, unfortunately not any law school can turn out well read and focused attorneys. Elite firms know who is running a university department, they know if it's cooking or not. When a great faculty member retires it only takes about 3 or 4 years for the difference to show up in the waiting room at the HR dept of an elite firm. The jungle drums barrister--they work and you know that to be true!
The best strategy for the individual is to have the correct grandparents and parents. Period. Preferably those who have previously been senators, judges, high-ranking bureaucrats, college presidents and other well-placed progressives ... possession of knowledge and skills appropriate to one's goals get you zip. If your daddy went to school with the senior partner, you're in. It's like being in a labor union, except it's for white collar upper class folks instead of blue collar working class folks. No relatives? Tough. That is why our government offices are filled by ignorant bigots, incompetents with mental illnesses, and those both unwilling and incapable of performing the job to any standard.
At present, Mrs. feeblemind's son, attending an Ivy League school, has been looking for an internship. However he seems to be at a huge disadvantage because his father wasn't in the business he wants to enter. In I believe two instances he was the preferred candidate, but was later told he was passed over for another applicant whose father was in the business and known to senior management.
Ike's driving the nails this morning. If you aren't related to a big cheese, you will do OK but you won't be able to just rake in the taxpayer dough and business deals like the Clintons and others in our current upside down, crazy world.