Who Hijacked Our Country

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fewer College Graduates Seeking Wall Street Careers

It’s about time.  This trend won’t show any immediate results, but ultimately this can only be a good thing.

There have been countless articles describing America’s brain drain.  Until a few years ago, the best and brightest would gravitate to a career in science, medicine, inventing something, building something, providing a service.  In a word, something useful.

There have been other articles warning us that when the financial sector — i.e. playing with other people’s money — has become a country’s largest industry, it’s a screaming red flag for that country.

And now — finally! — this dangerous trend is reversing.  This has been simmering for awhile, but it came to a boil with the recent New York Times column by Greg Smith, formerly of Goldman Sachs.  His public resignation letter / op-ed piece included: “I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work.”

As Kevin Roose writes in the linked article:

“College students who were once attracted to prestigious banks like moths to bonfires are increasingly turning to other industries in search of success.”

An anthropology professor who has studied the Wall Street culture said:

“Everything from Occupy Wall Street to larger critical discourses of ‘fat cats,’ all of that has had some trickle-down effect to young people.”

At this year’s SXSW in Austin, there was a panel titled “Keeping Kids off the Street: Wall St. vs. Start-ups.”

In 2008 — before the Wall Street meltdown — 28% of Harvard’s graduating class went into finance.  Last year that number fell to 17%.

This sentiment was articulated by a business student at the University of Texas at Austin:

“I have no interest in working at Goldman.  I want to build something. I don’t want to be working in an industry that effectively leeches off other industries.  It’s not creative enough for me.”

Perhaps the most telling of all:  In a survey of 6,700 young professionals, respondents ranked Google, Apple and Facebook as the companies they’d most like to work for.  The highest-ranking bank — JPMorgan Chase — came in at #41.

Crash and burn, Motherfuckers.

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Blogger jadedj said...

Crash and burn, indeed. Maybe there is some hope for us.

March 19, 2012 at 2:47 PM  
Blogger Mr. Charleston said...

Can't tell if that's good or bad. We certainly need reformers on Wall Street and where else will they come from if not college?

March 19, 2012 at 6:33 PM  
Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Tom Harper, I agree -- yes, indeed, let the bastards crash and burn!

When I was in business school many years ago, many aspired toward lucrative careers in the world of high-finance. The trend is, hopefully, grinding to a halt.

Mr. Charleston, I'm pretty confident, as a matter of fact I'm almost positive, that reform will never occur from the inside. The environment is toxic and based upon the theory that "greed is good". That's never going to change. It's been that way in the banking industry for centuries. Those who attempt to change that culture will be ostracized and marginalized, never reaching the boardrooms where they could have the most influence.

March 19, 2012 at 6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Problem was it was only certain colleges, certain fraternities, certain MBA's that got you into Wall Street. These were called the best of the best.

And these were the fuck ups that got your tax dollars in Bonus money because it was feared they would quit and their "genius" elsewhere.

In the Meantime many local banks and firms ran by "B" Students from smaller colleges avoided the worse of the Crash.

The wrong people were in charge


March 19, 2012 at 10:22 PM  
Anonymous Jolly Roger said...

I have said for years that MBA institutions were basically sociopath recruiting centers, and that was well before they robbed us blind and destroyed our economy.

I have been proven right. The MBA is a far more vile, and far less productive, creature than even the attorney is. The MBA can make Ted Bundy and John Gacy look like schoolyard bullies, such is his destructive powers.

And he's been trained to use them. Usually by other sociopaths.

March 20, 2012 at 12:28 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

It's encouraging to see more young people making a value judgment to go into a career that involves more than just making maximum money. Making money is important, but as a very good teacher I once had liked to remind us, "If all you get out of your work is money, you'll end up being shortchanged no matter how much you make."

Before we get too warm and fuzzy about this trend, let's remember there are still and will always be some who'll choose maximum money. Many of them will still flock to Wall St. like moths to a bonfire.

March 20, 2012 at 1:41 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

They can always get government jobs and have their college loans on the taxpayer tab.
I hear the IRS is looking for "A Few Good Thugs."

March 20, 2012 at 7:20 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

jadedj: This is definitely a hopeful sign.

Mr. C: I agree with Jefferson's Guardian's comment (the one after yours). Wall Street will never be reformed from the inside. If they're no longer attracting the best minds, they'll eventually lose some of their political clout, and then it'll be easier for government agencies -- acting on public outrage -- to do what needs to be done.

JG: I too hope this trend will grind to a halt.

Erik: I've never understood that fear that these "best of the best" would take their skills and genius elsewhere if they aren't overpaid enough. I even have a conservative acquaintance who rants about that exact same thing all the time.

JR: Good description. Schoolyard bullies and sociopaths learning from the experts how to do it even better.

SW: I too think this trend is
very encouraging. And that's a very good quote.

March 20, 2012 at 1:15 PM  

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