The Internship Auction ranks among the most highly anticipated events at Yale SOM says Oster. Each year, students hold an auction where the proceeds are given to peers who’ll be completing their summer internship at non-profits that often pay very little.
“It has that distributional characteristic that speaks to what the school‘s mission is all about,” Oster explains. “It’s also a big party. Students auction crazy things like a sleazy bar tour — which is done every year by the party animals in second year to introduce the party animals of the first year to the great local bars. Then, there are more serious things like allowing someone to use their house on the shore for a weekend. The faculty often donates dinner or cocktails at their homes. Alums donate things too. The students actually raise quite a bit of money, but it’s kind of a feel good event with a purpose that’s very consistent with what we do.”
BUY IN AND CONSISTENCY DEFINE THE BEST MBA CULTURES
Indeed, a commitment to consistency may be the secret sauce behind great cultures like Berkeley Haas and Yale SOM. That hit home for Johnson in 2016. After spending 11 years in Haas admissions, he left the school in 2010 to pursue interests overseas. When he was interviewing for his current role, he was struck by how deeply the Defining Principles were rooted in the school’s path forward. “In my interview process, one of the questions that I was asked was, “Which of these principles resonates with you and how do you reflect it in your professional life?” So we very consciously display these principles in onboarding people into our community, whether they are student, staff, or faculty. Then, within the community, we try to hold each other accountable for that.”
It is a consistency that stakeholders outside the school have witnessed as well. “These concepts were around long before we wrote the Defining Principles,” Johnson notes. “When we doing the focus groups 7-8 years ago, “Confidence Without Attitude” was a direct quote from a corporate recruiter.”
While Yale hasn’t posted anything comparable to the Defining Principles, Oster attributes this same consistency to why Yale has become such a popular destination for students who share the school’s values.
“Our mantra is, “Educating leaders for business and society.” I think that message resonates strongly with the current generation of students than earlier ones. I think it’s a message that requires consistency in action. It requires us to not only say it is what we do, but to make sure that we give voice and action to the bringing of values to management and leadership. I think that’s something the students hear about the school before they come — and they see it when they come. I think it creates recognition that we are about whatever future career people are going to have and what they’re trying to learn about is ways to bring social value to the fore. I think consistency around that is very important.”