As the current financial crisis wreaks havoc on the stock market, students in the Fox School of Business are left with a sense of insecurity about life after graduation.
Major financial corporations, such as Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch, are both merging with other companies to avoid bankruptcy and permanent closure.
“I’ve read that a lot of finance majors are looking into other majors like law,” said Manu Phatak, a junior finance and management information systems major. “I’ve already got my foot in the door with JP Morgan, but had I not been doing my research, I’d be looking for another major.
“A lot of people say that when things are going down it opens opportunities for great leaders, but I’m not going to be a leader my first year out of college,” Phatak said.
Senior real estate and finance major Deena Robinson has already made plans for life after graduation.
“After graduation, I have a job lined up with Citizens Bank, but I’m afraid what will happen in the long term if I decide not to take the job,” Robinson said. “Then again, the job is with a bank.”
Phatak said students should network with professionals in the business industry when searching for employment.
“It’s more important now than ever to build a huge network,” Phatak said. “Graduating has never been a sure-fire way of getting a job, and firms are going to be much more selective.”
Professors in the Fox School of Business recognize students’ fears of finding employment, and they are taking extra steps to educate undergraduates on the current state of the economy. Dr. Jonathan Scott is one of the many professors who is teaching his students to make informed decisions when planning their future endeavors.
“I remember that fear,” the associate professor of finance said. “I think that students have to be willing to think more broadly about what they’re willing to do. That includes considering working for some nonprofit that may be looking for help and it may be doing some unpaid internship until things turn around.
“For those students who had aspirations to work on Wall Street and be in investment banking, the job offerings are going to be much fewer than in years past,” Scott said.
“You never think that this could happen, but it’s a good thing for us to see right now so we can see how it affects everyone when we get out into the real world,” Robinson said.
Jordan Salmeron understands the potential obstacles he might encounter while looking for a career in the financial industry. Salmeron has even begun networking with financial corporate executives.
“Personally I’m not worried about finding a job,” Salmeron said. “The jobs are there. I have to better myself. I can’t sit back and go to class and expect someone to find me. That’s not how it works.”
He said he is leaning toward an accounting firm because of the stability of the profession.
“All accounting firms do have a financial sector in them, so I plan to keep it within accounting until the economy itself is more stable,” Salmeron said.
As the economy struggles with a recession, Scott said companies are not hiring at the same rates that they have in the past.
“What I really think students need to do is to stay informed on what’s going on in the world and what that means is that either online or in print, students need to be reading the Financial Times and The Economist because they’re global oriented,” Scott said. “You need to know what’s going on in the world in terms of politics, business and finance.”
Sudipta Basu, an associate professor of accounting, said there will be more careers in accounting and fewer in finance.
“Business students should expect that the job search will take a bit longer than in the past, but not to give up because as far as we can tell only the financial sector has been affected,” Basu said.
Scott said although he doesn’t do “anything specific” as to how students should alter their career search strategies, they have to understand what caused the current economic crisis.
“I’m spending a lot of time trying to help them understand the underlying causes of this problem and why it’s going to take a pretty long time for this problem to resolve itself,” Scott said.
Janis Moore Campbell, associate director for the Center for Student Professional Development at the Fox School of Business, said it is normal for students to be concerned about what is going on.
“It’s discomforting to see companies that have been around for 20 to 50 years fail,” Campbell said.
“Many students will find job opportunities where they never imagined,” Campbell said. “No good things have come from the status quo, so although some jobs cease to exist, other jobs will be created.”
Some professors are doing their best to alleviate the fears of business majors, but students are not noticing any changes in teaching strategies.
Segrid Barr, a junior human resource management major, said professional student organizations are preparing undergraduates who plan to work in the financial market.
“A lot of my classes are talking about being prepared by educating you, but the student professional organizations are the ones that are really preparing you by reviewing resumes and introducing you to networking programs.”
“I don’t see any of my other professors bringing the real world into the classroom, which I feel is a complete mistake,” Salmeron said.
“If you don’t bring the real world into the classroom, we will not be able to broaden our horizons and protect ourselves from any possible disasters that could come our way.”
Kelly R. Fields can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.