To the list of cultural advantages enjoyed by men, you can add the jock factor. It seems that there's a form of--dare I say this?--affirmative action for athletes in the corporate sector.
Apparently, star athletes--namely those who play in big-time college sports--often enjoy a big advantage in getting their foot in the door of some mighty institutions.
Reports Bloomberg Businessweek: "University of Pennsylvania defensive back Josh Powers may have a better opportunity than playing for college football's national championship: a six-figure Wall Street salary upon graduation." The article goes on to say that Powers "was able to use contacts on Penn's athletic board to land internships at two financial firms," where the starting salary for a new college grad is about $120,000.
Powers told Bloomberg: “I have a job opportunity that the top, top percentile of applicants would give their right arm to have . . . I've been blessed with a fantastic opportunity.”
Blessed indeed. I'm not saying Powers isn't deserving, but he does enjoy a special network that's rarely available to women. For starters, Penn’s athletic board has lots of bigwigs, like hedge-funder George Weiss and UBS Group Americas's chair and CEO, Robert Wolf. Penn coach Al Bagnoli calls them "our alumni mafia,” adding that “everyone looks out for one another. It’s a very close group.”
As someone with no athletic prowess (seriously, I couldn't tell you who played in the last Super Bowl if my life depended on it), I don't know beans about that world. But I do know that jocks get special passes. (Remember all those not-too-sharp football players in college who had to do a special "postgraduate" year--as in post-high school--before they showed up at freshman orientation?)
The world of finance seems more openly smitten with former athletes than the legal profession. That said, I do remember, from my law firm days, a former varsity football player getting plum assignments and lots of client exposure, even though he had failed the bar three times. As I recall, both male and female partners swooned over him. To be fair, he was quite personable and extremely good-looking. (He eventually quit law for investment banking.)
Is there a law firm mafia for former jocks? Would firms bend the rules for them, like being not so picky about their GPA or journal experience? Just asking.
Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.