Saturday, May 10, 2008

Community service in your application

I am about to rant. As a bit of context, this post may be a bit mean. I've had a rough day/ week. My grandfather died last Friday and I spent most of the week in Florida at the funeral and with family. Today I spent 2 hours on the phone with Verizon. Who are all @$$holes. Never buy any service from them. Ever.

Every once in awhile (ok, maybe a bit more often, something like twice a week) I check the referral page of my blog sitemeter. I was somewhat disturbed to find a referral from the Business Week forums. I think most information on the forum is useless. People talk themselves around in circles. They ask advice from professionals (Clear Admit) and anonymous peers. The advice of the former of course tends to be much more sensible than the latter. My favorite posts go something like this "I'm a white male, 27 years old, 5 years in banking, 760 GMAT and average GPA from a top university. I haven't had time to volunteer but I'm going to quit and spend the next year making myself more interesting, will this help me get into H/S/W? I won't apply anywhere else."

Please. If you haven't contributed anything to the greater welfare of your fellow mankind at this point in your life and you're just now getting around to it, then do poor people/ animals/ orphans a favor and leave them alone. Unless, perhaps, you know something or have a particular skill that is beneficial to a group in need. For example, if puppies think you're the best thing after bacon flavored treats, then maybe you would be well suited to volunteer at an animal shelter. I think Porter's take on companies and CSR provides an apt analogy. Porter argues that many companies have CSR programs for the sake of having CSR programs.
"Broadly speaking, proponents of CSR have used four arguments to make their case: moral obligation, sustainability, license to operate, and reputation... All four schools of thought share the same weakness: They focus on the tension between business and society rather than on their interdependence." (Porter and Kramer. "The Link between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility." Harvard Business Review, December 2006.)
Instead of volunteering for the sake of volunteering, one should explore what extracurricular activities fit one's personal strategy, skills, goals and interests. In doing good for others in an arena that matches one of those areas of your life (strategy, etc.) you are simultaneously building your personal stock.

Now it's time to drink a glass of wine and mellow out.


Seb said...

Hi HairTwirler,

My name's Seb Douglas, and I'm a content editor for FIND MBA ( I don't know if you've ever seen our weekly blog roundup of the top 5 MBA blogs out there, but you're often on it.

We're thinking of changing the format so that each week we do a special feature on a particular blogger. I was wondering whether you'd be interested in being one of our first?

If you are, there's a list of questions we'd like you to answer. All very easy, and you can pick and choose as you like.

So, if you're at all interested - or if perhaps you'd like to ask me a bit more about it first - just drop me a line at

Best wishes,


Samantha said...

I love your line about those people leaving the poor people/puppies alone. It's totally true.