Marcia Clark: An Ivy League education does not make someone qualified for a job


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Former OJ prosecutor Marcia Clark is a producer and co-creator of the new ABC show The Fix, starring Robin Tunney, which is loosely based on Clark’s experiences. Tunney’s character fails to prosecute a high profile actor accused of murdering his ex wife and her friend. She gets vilified by the press and fans and moves out of LA to the country. When the actor’s girlfriend turns up dead eight years later she returns to prosecute him again. The pilot is out and I watched not expecting much but I loved it! It’s trashy good, it really delivers on drama and you root for Tunney’s character. There’s a lot of twists in the first episode, it was highly entertaining and I yelled “damn” at the TV a few times. I’m definitely DVRing it.

Marcia and Robin were on Access Live to promote the show. Kit Hoover wisely asked Marcia about Operation Varsity Blues and her answer was so good that I wanted to talk about it.

Marcia Clark: An Ivy League education doesn’t make someone qualified
I feel really bad for the kids who are never going to get into those Ivy League schools no matter what because their parents don’t have the means. What I really want to say to the employers is ‘stop looking at just an Ivy League education.’ That does not mean the kid is a quality kid, that does not mean he can really perform. Google, Microsoft, Apple, they look for that. If they don’t see one of those Ivy League schools they don’t even give then a chance. Now especially with this scandal, I want them to rethink that.

Robin Tunney: It’s a mistake to vilify the celebrities
I also think it’s a mistake to vilify the celebrities because this is a symptom of what’s going on in our culture and how much pressure we put on our kids and what we feel like love is as a parent. It’s easy to point your finger and go ‘ok she’s bad and this is what privilege does’ but we can’t do better by just vilifying these people. How do we create a culture where this thing doesn’t exist? It’s the same thing with R. Kelly. How this person got here. The abuse he had as a child. How do we make it better moving forward so these things don’t happen again? So that we can take responsibility as a culture and make the world a better place.

After that they all gushed about how great Gayle King did interviewing R. Kelly. Scott Evans asked Marcia how Kelly’s interview will affect his prosecution for his crimes and she wisely brought it back around to The Fix and said that they show how public opinion affects cases and how there’s so much going on behind the scenes. You can tell that they put a lot of thought into the show and I’m really looking forward to watching this whole season. As for Marcia’s comments on Ivy League educations, she’s spot on. Maybe this scandal will help employers realize that a prestigious education doesn’t make a job candidate worthy. Robin’s answer wasn’t my favorite but I bet she personally knows one of the women affected by this and that’s why she answered the way she did. She’s right that the system needs to change.

Here’s the interview. Kit and Scott are a great team and I really enjoy the Access Live interviews, they have an excellent rapport with the celebrities.

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photos credit: WENN

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44 Responses to “Marcia Clark: An Ivy League education does not make someone qualified for a job”

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  1. LT says:

    Except that it’s total baloney that employers aren’t looking past the Ivy Leagues – that’s completely false. I have worked for and with some of the biggest companies in the world and the biggest employers of college grads and they absolutely recruit from other schools. Not every school, but definitely schools outside a small group of East Coast Ivies.

    However – and this is a big however for soon-to-be college grads – grades DO matter, as does your degree. I’ve done a fair bit of recruiting and my company won’t even look at you if you don’t have a good GPA and some interesting extracurricular activities. Better to go to a well respected state school and work hard than attend a private school and blow off your education.

    • deezee says:

      That must be an American thing. I’ve been recruiting for one of the largest financial institutions in the world in Toronto, and never asked about GPA. While some may show a preference for a certain university *coughQueenscough* I and many I work with, only care that it be a legitimate university. We care that they have some experience (depending on the job and candidate’s life stage) but that’s it. Unless your extracurriculars are aligned to the job you are applying for, I don’t care about your other interests.
      The only bias a Canadian recruiter may have is for a university degree over a college diploma/life experience. The two are totally different here and there is a strong university-based snobbery which many are trying to overcome but it hasn’t happened yet.

      • LT says:

        Deezee,

        You don’t look at GPA for college recruits? Once someone becomes an experienced hire, GPA doesn’t matter, but it’s absolutely factored in for recent grads. The companies I’m referring to are only recruiting the top 10-15%, though, so they won’t even look at you if your GPA is below 3.7. All of the companies are global (ie not American), but I don’t know if the overseas offices are as particular about GPA.

      • Veronica S. says:

        How are you looking at a GPA outside of self-reporting, though? It’s illegal for institutions to release that information to any entity other than the student. Colleges are only allowed to answer whether you attended and graduated with a degree. The only way you’re legally getting that information is self-reporting, which is then entirely relying on the employee’s honesty.

      • LT says:

        Veronica S,

        I do not know if this is still the practice, but when I was recruited, I had to provide my final college transcript, including my grades, before starting work. Again – this is just for recent college grads, who are typically recruited differently than experienced hires.

      • deezee says:

        @LT
        No we never ask. We have confirmed someone has graduated before but never checked their GPA.
        Experience as listed on the resume, and candidate meetings are what we have alsways based our opinions on, not grades.

      • Veronica says:

        Ah, that makes sense. I work for one of the largest Forbes 500 companies (in the top ten, actually), and they never once cared about my GPA scores (which are very good, don’t get me wrong). I did, however, have career experience in a previous field that was tangentially related to what I do now with my current degree, so that may have waylaid any interest they had in my GPA. Oddly enough, my side job retail experience was my biggest plus to them – it showed I had experience with and patience for customer service relations.

      • TheHufflepuffLizLemon says:

        /

    • Yawn says:

      All major tech companies state clearly that candidates must be from a top 25 university. My partner is a really gifted computer programmer and literal genius mathematician (like, beyond the abilities of the math department chair at our small state school), but is auto rejected from top companies because of the lack of pedigree. At the end of the day we want them to have a good job at a good company, and not a job at a company that obviously does not hire real talent, so smaller start ups and indie developers are a better fit for them, but it is still infuriating. America is garbage: Money talks; Merit walks.

      • TabithaStevens says:

        “All major tech companies state clearly that candidates must be from a top 25 university.” This is not at all true. I know a recent graduate from a lowly HBCU who interned at Microsoft. He missed the date to apply but Microsoft recruiting called him and asked why he did not apply. When he explained that his missed his date via the counseling office, he was told to pack his bags and claim his desk. He worked hard and really is the nicest kid.

      • tuille says:

        I agree with TabithaStevens. One friend who works at Google graduated from a lesser California State college with mediocre grades. Another friend is a VP @ Facebook who went to UCSB, excellent school but hardly “elite.” Another friend graduated from a better Cal State college & is a VP @ Hewlett Packard.
        Proves to me that saying only ivy or other elite uni alums can get hired at those places is bollocks.

    • Anne Call says:

      My son has worked for Facebook, Uber and Houzz in Bay Area. No Ivy League education (go Banana Slugs), but hardworking and great personality. Maybe law firms in NYC look for Ivy League schools, not sure how much it matters in the rest of the country.

  2. anniefannie says:

    She’s spot on, I worked with an Exec who graduated from Stanford and he was hands down the biggest moron ever. He repeatedly had to butt heads with another dept head for budget, personnel and resources, She was an accomplished, savvy woman who roundly trounced him everytime. While it was highly entertaining to watch, it negatively impacted our dept’s opportunities.
    He wasn’t the only negative experience I’ve had with Ivy leaguers but by far the biggest stand out

    • Wow says:

      My brother works in finance and his well known investment firm avoids ivy league and “legacy” wealth resumes like the plague because of the hassle that comes with them.

      My experience and hearing from others is these degrees a very very expensive and come with other professional costs later because of the toxic culture at the schools themselves. If you don’t have connections already these schools aren’t a leg up. Especially if you are black the just assume you are a product of affirmative action.

      • Megan says:

        Way back when I worked for an environmental nonprofit that was obsessed with hiring people with ivy degrees. That organization was no more effective than similar enviros. Never understood the obsession since it did not redound to the benefit of the planet.

    • huckle says:

      Is it because he came from an ivy league school or is it because he’s simply a recent college grad? I find that the newly hired college grads I work with have a ton of book smarts but have no real-world smarts or common sense at all.

      • anniefannie says:

        @ Huckle, no I should have mentioned he was well into his 50’s when hired. After attending several meeting w/him ( total blow hard )I mused to a colleague that I couldn’t believe they hired him as a dept head when he was new to our field and was told “ Well, he’s a Stanford grad!”
        He was pushed out after 18 months and is now doing what God intended, a house husband for an extremely wealthy woman…

      • huckle says:

        @Anniefannie How interesting. At that age, who cares where he graduated from!! What a relief for you and the other dept. head that he’s now doing the lord’s work.

      • Fluffy Princess says:

        He made it all the way to an Executive position where he butted heads with another department head. Newbie college grads aren’t landing in a department head situation. So based on that I’m guessing he was just a moron. :-)

  3. Lucy2 says:

    Robin is right that the system needs changing , but I think we should do that, AND prosecute people who committed crimes related to it. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
    I want to check out the show, mostly for Marsha. Not a big fan of Robin, but hopefully it’s a good series.

  4. perplexed says:

    I’m surprised they haven’t asked Natalie Portman about this scandal yet. Even now she talks about her Harvard degree. I vaguely remember her saying something along the lines of not meeting “Jo Schmos” there (I’m paraphrasing — this is not an exact quote). .

    • lucy2 says:

      Natalie got in because she was famous herself though (and hopefully smart), not because her parents were rich and donated and/or cheated/bribed.

      • perplexed says:

        I know why she got in. However, Marcia Clarke states that you’re not automatically better at a job because of the Ivy League school you came from. Natalie Portman, throughout her career, has always made it clear that people from Harvard were somehow “better” (much more so than other celebrities — Hugh Grant, who went to Oxford, doesn’t do this. He’s self-deprecating). That’s why I referenced Portman.

      • Veronica says:

        Yeah, she’s definitely got some academic elitism about her. She seems to have chilled out a bit in recent years, so some of it may have been youthful arrogance at play. I’ll give her credit that she seems somewhat genuine in her intellectual curiosity, though – she pursued some grad studies in the early 2000s and studies several languages, and she’s done quite a bit with charitable and global organizations.

    • Patty says:

      I have an incredibly intelligent friend who attended Tufts with Jessica Biel (she actually tutored Beil at one point); says Biel is very dim. Friend met NP as well and says she’s not as smart as she wishes she was – and yeah, totally got into Harvard because she was Natalie Portman from Syosset (median home value is almost 1Mil). Had she not been an actor or from wealth she most definitely would not I’ve gotten in.

      • AM says:

        I remember doing an internship at a big NY media company and the boss said, we don’t care what school you went to, what we look for when we offer a job in the end , is the person who shows up every day, works hard, performs the tasks asked, the person who creates ideas to enrich the work or a project and person who doesn’t make excuses. He said where you have your degree from, does not matter, how you perform is what matters. I remember one girl from Harvard quit the internship half way through, she complained about having to do menial tasks like ,retrieve and scan old footage for days and days, for use in a production.

  5. Ariel says:

    Robin Tunney comes off, as the author noted, like a friend of the guilty. Ah, my friends are nice, don’t vilify them just because they committed bribery, fraud, tax fraud, etc.
    No thanks Robin.

    Marcia Clark is amazing and as a society we owe her, so I am glad she is successful.

  6. Maria says:

    She is right. Donald Trump went to U. PENN, and he’s definitely not qualified for the job!

  7. otaku fairy... says:

    She’s right. Being able to say that either you, your kid, or some other relative went to one of those ivy leagues is a status symbol. It can be about respectability politics. It’s easy to forget that this isn’t always proof of how hard someone has or hasn’t worked, how smart they are or aren’t, or what kind of person they are. You really can find people with those qualities at any school.

  8. Snazzy says:

    She’s not right about the big companies, at least not in Europe. Mr Snazzy just got his dream job at Google in Zurich, and he has a degree from a Uni in Spain, definitely not at the level of Ivy League. He didn’t even get a degree in computer science or Machine learning or anything (he just loves it so reads about it and programs in his spare time for fun, enters competitions etc). They saw what he did, they just tested him and saw he was good at what he does.

    But do find it interesting that whenever I meet an American out here, they always ask about where you studied and talk about where they studied. It’s a strange obssession when you’re in your mid 40s and have work experience. 🤷🏽‍♀️

    • atlantic says:

      @Snazzy – Same goes for Canada. I’m in the software dev business and know plenty of people working at Google, Uber, Facebook, Amazon, etc., here and in the US. I have no idea where most of them went to school because it doesn’t typically come up. I do know a significant number of them didn’t study computer engineering or anything relevant to it at school, but fell into programming later and their skills got them in the door.

      But there is an exception to this here. Paid internships are a big part of the school experience for computer engineering and related, and the big companies tend to hold recruiting events just at particular schools. So those students (for example, from Waterloo University) would have an advantage that helps them gain experience and quite often leads to their first real job.

      Otherwise as long as you have the skills, regardless of where you picked them up, there are opportunities in this industry.

  9. BANANIE says:

    I do wish all this Ivy League obsession would go away. The high school I attended has a crazy high rate of students who get accepted to those schools, and it’s contributed to this weirdly coddling environment at the school where the message is all ‘you are the brightest person on the planet.’ I think it’s unhealthy.

    Then again, my classmates were very, very rich. I never really bought into it as much (scholarship kid, not from a wealthy as hell neighborhood) – or so I thought. I went to a respected private school that I admit has gotten mentioned by the hirer every job interview I’ve ever had, but I still have a complex of how it’s “second rate.” Literally all of my friends went to Ivies or MIT.

    Some of the smartest people I know and work with went to state schools and busted their butts. That’s what should count. And it’s worth noting that alongside their seriously impressive work ethics, they don’t have that superiority complex.

  10. Angie says:

    It depends on the profession for sure. In my field of law pedigree definitely matters but more at the law school than the undergrad level.

  11. me says:

    I have had people say they lied on their resumes. They put fake jobs they never had and they were hired ! It’s disgusting how so many companies don’t bother to put in the work of verifying a person’s resume and references.

    • TabithaStevens says:

      A large percentage of federal government employees lie about their education – the government doesn’t verify. Also, the ocean of Southeast Asians H1B visa holders in the IT field have fake resumes. Supposed Indian software developers sit in groups at a desk with a copy of “C++ for Dummies.’

      • tuille says:

        What surprises me about so many Asians who come to Silicon Valley is that they neither speak nor understand enough English to be able to perform routine tasks, like finding an apartment, opening a bank account, find a nanny, etc.
        A car salesman who is fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin, or Japanese could easily get rich very quickly.

      • Perplexed says:

        Both of these comments are questionably close to racist/prejudiced… @tabitha, I take it you don’t work for the federal government, and get your information from Faux and the internet.

        I’m not even going to touch the second comment.

      • Perplexed says:

        @tabitha

        Seriously, you know you have to pass a background check to work for the federal government, yeah? It’s more extensive than any other employer, at every level, and can take weeks or months.

        Please don’t spread the stupid around.

      • BeanieBean says:

        Complete lie. Depending upon the job series, you’re more likely than not required to submit a copy of your transcripts. I also had to submit a copy of my diploma to prove I had, indeed, finished my masters. And as others have stated, there’s a background check.

  12. Keira Williams says:

    The head writers/showrunners of The Fix, Liz Craft & Sarah Fain, have an awesome podcast–Happier in Hollywood. They discuss a lot of BTS Hollywood stuff as well as universal life stuff. They are down to earth, feminist, funny. Did you know The Fix intentionally employs a diverse group of writers and many of the episodes are directed by women?

  13. perplexed says:

    I think an Ivy League education helps you if you want to work on Wall Street or if you want to be a lawyer that pontificates on tv.

    But in everything else I’m not convinced it makes a difference in landing a job in certain industries if you’re truly excellent at something.

  14. holly hobby says:

    I recently went back to my high school to participate in a college prep day for juniors. They were asking alumni to come back and do a speech about life post high school, how you chose your career what you did etc. I had 2 other people on the panel. One guy is a landscape architect and he designed all the landscaping at the Seoul Winter Olympics (impressive!). The other guy is a doctor and he is also the head of admissions at the local medical school.

    The dr’s story was really inspiring. He told the audience that he grew up dirt poor and supported himself through college as a car mechanic. He went to a local two year college before transferring to the university. He switched to medical school mid-career. His message was you don’t need to study the bio-sciences to get into med school. All you need to do is pass your MCAT and do well at med school. He also told the kids the type of college didn’t matter (look at his route!). Money isn’t everything and passion is. Passion for the field and subject.

    We had Q&A after this and obviously I and the landscape architect were totally ignored and the pushy folks and kids bugged the Dr for tips to get accepted into med school.

  15. Caty Page says:

    I find that people who went Ivy/Adjacent often feel the need to ensure everyone around them knows. Cool story about Princeton, bro, but I lived in a trailer and we ended up in the same job. Way to announce you done messed up somewhere.