Monday, December 12, 2011

Is It Worth It?

So, I've been thinking recently about a question inspired by my time at the London School of Economics. The students of this institution tend to be highly "career-oriented." In so many words, people are falling over just to get an interview with Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, etc... Luckily, I already have summer employment, so I get to watch this carnage from the outside. I can't help but wonder how these kids expect to distinguish themselves in this atmosphere, and how do they stay motivated? I decided to to go to my friends for answers:

I posed the following question to three people who are/were interested in working in the financial industry. I asked, "Do do you think as the process and competition become more intense, people will be discouraged from applying? Is the glamour of Wall Street fading?"

Here are the answers:


"I dont think people will be discouraged from applying, but I do think the glamour is fading. It seems the hot new jobs are at Facebook and Google now."


"It is really hard to predict, but I think if people are indeed interested  in interning in the sector they will not be discouraged from applying. Especially since there isn't really anything to lose. Also, if Wall Street will manage to keep its glamour, the competition will become more intense (as in every sector will, because internships become more and more popular/"mandatory"), and the people will not become discouraged by that. After all, you know it's hard to get there, but as long as you eventually make it, you know you can stick there for awhile. 

As for people who aren't indeed interested, they might become discouraged from applying; this can also be an opportunity for them to actually figure out what their primary occupational/career interest is."


"I don't think either is really the case, at least at Duke. The profession is attractive to undergrads because you have an opportunity to be financially independent immediately after college. I think in fact that its competitiveness increases its appeal. Students at competitive institutions want to be perceived by their peers to have the "best" internships or the "best" jobs. At Duke specifically 67% of my class was premed as freshmen, and now 13% of the class is still premed. Obviously medecine is a fine profession, albeit hard work, but not comparable to financial services in initial compensation, and thus, prestige.

I think the biggest argument to be made for it losing prestige is through support for movements like Occupy Wall Street that a re largely a reflection of dissatisfaction with the economy as a whole. In other words, I bet less than half of Zucotti Park could tell you what TARP, Simpson Bowles, or Dodd Frank did, or what a mortgage backed security or credit default swap is."

My take is in line with the other three. Mainly, I think we can turn to economic theory for our answer: SPECIALIZATION. Already, all sorts of programs are being created at universities seemingly to get students into banks. I think it's going to be more difficult for your typical liberal arts student to "just apply to banking jobs." Prospective employees are going to need more skills in order to make it. But, this is not a bad thing. It's going to save a lot of uninspired candidates the time of application. Banks won't have to sift through so many people, and will give more time to each candidate. And the people who will endure this ordeal will be TRULY interested in finance. Specialization is always good for an economy, as a whole and on a micro level.

1 comment:

  1. However, this might be the death of liberal arts education. I hope specialization (if it were to happen) wouldn't happen in every industry. It would be especially sad for people who take a lot longer to decide what to do career-wise. You should still have the opportunity to do finance even if you don't have an undergraduate degree in the discipline. Would it now entail to necessarily do a Master's in the field or undergo some specific studies before applying for a job in the domain?

    Urgh, life is hard!

    ~ Bianca B.