Wednesday, June 25, 2008
So it is unlikely that this awesome concierge position will actually be my future. (I have no real future career). But it does remind you of that special time in elementary school when this question is first asked and wide eyed optimistic children respond with the careers that society seems to be based around. You then have a classroom full of doctors, nurses, teachers, police officers, fire fighters, U.S. presidents and hair stylists. However as you get older reality starts to set in, as well as likes, dislikes and your parents desires change those goals and more diverse careers emerge like lawyers,journalists, fashion models, actors, and artists.
At some point when you start college you learn what an investment banker is and that there are these organizations called consulting firms and hedge funds. (Some kids know what they are growing up, but I'm not talking about those privileged ones.) Once again career ideals change and people who once wanted to be a doctor or teacher see the lure of business and venture there. But is there anything inherently wrong with that?(Full disclaimer: I went to the dinners, decided Boston Consulting Group was the only firm I liked, started my cover letter and then remembered I did not really want to do that so never applied.)
The New York Times visits the issue this week in a piece entitled "Big Paychecks or Service." The author discusses the pull on students who once had other goals to enter business fields where they can make loads of money. Usually its a base salary around 60-70 thousand and then tens of thousands of dollars added on in bonuses-serious cash for a 21-23 year old to make on their first job, and a salary that most people in other career fields,say primary education or journalism, spend their careers attempting to earn.
The article does address a huge issue in that many people do lose sight of their larger goals in life chasing money at a young age. I have also seen the torture it wreaks on students in the process. There are countless interviews and math evaluations. You fly around the country so that different offices can determine their approval in the midst of working on your thesis, carrying a full course load, and you are still expected to participate in student life. Students take the leap from "I came here to go back and better my community" to "I came here and want some money so I can ascribe to the lifestyle in front of me, the community will figure it out eventually."But it also ignores the fact that many people also choose this path for other reasons. For one, some people actually have families that need financial assistance and this is perhaps the best way out at the moment. People also have plans for their lives post banking. This often serves as the launchpad for one's own business ideas. Many do go back to working towards their goal and this was simply a fun or necessary financial detour along the way. Similarly, just like young people that go about their grand tour post college, this banking lifestyle is a great way to travel and live in other cities essentially on your jobs dime.
Also there are tons of students that just don't have a clue as to what they are doing post graduation. They flit and flutter around during the summer and find a job that often is not in hard core business. Others do go for further education bettering themselves and building more debt in the process. And still several do reach their original goals simply taking detours along the way. It's not a dichotomy of "we help people" vs. "we help ourselves." Often it's more of a mix and I have heard of quite the fair share of students doing teaching programs just to get the free education masters whether or not they will ever actually use it. Even more, there are some people that actually enjoy the idea of investment banking and consulting and hedge funds and all that business jazz. They love quantitative evaluations
This long ramble was just to say that I found the New York Times article biased. Within the limits of the line or word count I am certain there was a way to take into consideration the other side of the story and not simply paint a wide brush over the students that pick a different route. Maybe colleges should enact more loan forgiveness programs like the ones available at several law schools. Perhaps that would help in the battle.
Sidenote: I did like the point about schools homogenizing their students. While not necessarily in the case of careers, there is a point there.