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THE BURNING QUESTION

Welcome back to The Question. Not much has changed, except for my worm deck to skydeck relocation within Aldrich 10.

Quick! Pop quiz!
The approximate temperature in the Aldrich 10 skydeck is:
a) Jamaica hot
b) Africa hot
c) The same temperature as Hell

Yes, it’s warm, but I still love our old room. So let’s move on to The Burning Question for this week . . . .

Q: I don’t have the background or work experience to get the job I want. Is there anything I can do?

The Problem:
You are a farmer. You’ve been a farmer for ten years. You came to HBS because you want to be a banker. But you can’t apply to the banker job postings because all the experienced bankers are applying and you don’t think you have a chance. Come to think of it, nothing on your resume will get you that consulting or marketing job either. What job posting are you qualified for? Farmer. Good luck, and thanks for playing.

Is there a solution? Of course there is, and I’m glad to help. Often, MBA job candidates fail to recognize their own past experiences that effectively mirror certain work roles. It can be tough to remember these things, however, so I went to the trouble of creating a list of roles and experiences that lend themselves to certain job categories. Don’t be surprised if you see this list in Dr. Butler’s next workshop. Without further ado, I proudly present:

Todd Rovak’s CAREER CONVERSION TABLE

The following count as marketing experience:
– The “creative liberties” you took with your HBS application essays
– Convincing the girl with the out-of-town boyfriend that going home with you “is the best thing for their relationship”
– Sales, including girl scout cookies or illegal substances (also counts as pharmaceutical marketing, packaged goods)

The following are equivalent to investment banking experience:
– Slamming your penis in a car door
– Counting sand
– Any extended term in a correctional facility
– Falling down a flight of stairs in front of friends, while carrying a plate of pasta

The following count as venture capital experience:
– Buying a girl an expensive dinner and drinks (I’m not explaining this one)
– Gambling your Valentine’s Day gift money at a casino “in order to get her an even better gift”
– Taking on an irresponsible amount of debt to pay HBS tuition in hopes of some kind, any kind of better life

The following activities count as consulting experience:
– Reading to your dog
– Describing other peoples’ artwork
– Theft
– Discussing wine at parties
– Having a “favorite” Holiday Inn

The following counts as operations/IT/manufacturing experience:
– 120350 or above on Tetris
– Making paper cards in Crimson Greetings
– Two to four years in an engineering-related field applying quantitative control processes to product development or system improvement
– Paying grade school bullies for protection
– Having an Internet girlfriend/boyfriend

The following activities may be viewed as management/leadership experience:
– At restaurants, being the person at the table who collects all the menus when people are finished ordering
-Taking a firm stand to cut a $9 allocation from the section budget, because “not everyone likes bagels”
– Breaking up with your girlfriend via PowerPoint
– Refusing to order a section fleece because “everyone has one”

Hopefully, you’ll find some of these conversions helpful as the recruitment process moves along. Try to leverage these experiences into a creative resume or convincing interview conversation.

Please note: The Burning Question does not condone any illegal activities, overly promiscuous actions, or general reckless or immoral behavior, as these are violations of HBS Community Standards. The bad things you’ve done in the past should be a source of guilt, shame, and serve as a basis for personal growth, unless there’s a chance they can get you a job in which case you should totally go for it. Hope this helps.

Got a Burning Question? email me at trovak@mba2006.hbs.edu. On behalf of the One and Only Section B, I’ll do my best to address it appropriately.

January 24, 2005
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