One of the first lessons I learnt at Insead was taken from the movie Inglourious Basterds. I am reminded of it as I watch the new students desperately running around in their suits trying to attend as many company presentations and apply to as many jobs as possible.
As we come to make decisions about our lives post-school, we often do so, with incomplete information and under time pressure. There are a number of rules about decision-making that we learnt in the core course, Uncertainty, Data and Judgement, that are important to keep in mind as the recruiting season progresses.
1. Much of what we take to be true is false (or at least has no sound empirical basis). The quote goes: “I love rumours! Facts can be so misleading, but rumours, whether or not they’re true, can be so revealing…” The lesson here is that while it is important to do your research on the companies that you plan to apply to, the facts that you read on paper may be quite different to the ‘rumours’ you learn only by speaking to people.
2. We do not fully appreciate the uncertainty within and around us.You expect that everyone around you knows what he or she wants to accomplish after school. After all – it is what we wrote our admission essays about. Contrary to what it may appear, the majority of MBAs are trudging through the quagmire of career options as we look to make a transition in our lives.
3. Our mind sees patterns where there is nothing but randomness. Everyone wants to be a consultant. Actually, 2008 recruitment statistics indicated that less than half (42 per cent) of graduates went on to be consultants. There are many other opportunities beyond the world of McKinsey.
4. We are over-confident. Many of us come from a strong work background and still feel the boisterous pride of having been admitted into one of the best business schools in the world. Finding a job should be easy. Who wouldn’t want to hire me (and the thousands of other people competing for the same position)?
5. All of these facts are obvious.