Friday, December 12, 2008

Infinite Connections or Infinite Jest?

Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that laid off investment banker Joshua Persky (the fellow on the right in the photo above) landed a new job several months after becoming famous for handing out resumes in Midtown Manhattan while wearing a sandwich board advertising his job hunt ("After Unusual Hunt, Ex-Banker Lands a Job"). You probably already know that Mr. Persky has landed a new job, since, as Mr. Persky notes on his blog today, his story has been picked up by all sorts of media outlets, including MSNBC, the front page of Yahoo!, etc.

Persky's successful job hunt is an inspiring story of persistence and originality, and that seems to be how most of the media have covered it, but as a cynic, it raises a question for me: What does it say about MIT's alumni network (here is its "Infinite Connections" website) or the prestige of an MIT degree that an MIT alumnus had to resort to such a stunt to find a job? Presumably, one can get an education of similar high-quality at a somewhat less prestigious (and less expensive) school; if the added prestige and connections of an MIT degree are of such little value that an alumnus needs to go to such extraordinary lengths to get a new job, than why pay more to go to MIT?


JK said...

I'm sure MIT doesn't have the networking benefits of other elite schools, especially due to the nerdy, techie nature of much of the student body. Also, MIT grads might would be less likely (compared to Harvard/Yale/Princeton) to get in positions of power to help each other out, they are studying to be experts for hire, not power brokers. You're less likely to run into future politicians and corporate board members there.

But I wouldn't read too much into an isolated news flash like this. Its not good PR for MIT, but there's still a lot of world class research, engineering and expertise going on up there that you'd be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Any for many, that is a reward to least until they have a family to support (possibly again less likely due to the nature of the student body!).

Coincidentially, right before I stopped here I had just read this article on the about online university vs the brick and mortar institutions. Maybe when/if the possible college bubble bursts DV and APOL would be good picks.

JK said...

Ouch. Please excuse my grammar.

DaveinHackensack said...

"I'm sure MIT doesn't have the networking benefits of other elite schools, especially due to the nerdy, techie nature of much of the student body."

A similar thought crossed my mind. I also know a couple of MIT grads (one actually quite sociable; another who fits the nerdy stereotype) who both seemed to lack the right connections.

I'll have to check out the stocks and the article a little later.