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What does a senior do when it seems the only option is I-banking?
By Melissa Renny 02
As I walked through the career fair last month, I was overcome
with a sense of impending doom. An English major looking for a career
in journalism or publishing, I felt more than a little out of place
in a room full of investment banking and consulting firms. I wandered
from booth to booth searching for something that interested me,
and found only options like Princeton in Asia, Teach for America,
and fellowship programs that I would have to pay for.
According to Beverly Hamilton Chandler, director of Career Services,
65 percent of graduating seniors who had accepted employment last
year went into either the financial services industry or the services
industry, the most popular choice in each being investment banking
and consulting, respectively. In addition, 27 percent of the Class
of 2002 planned to attend graduate school, up from 19 percent in
Andrew Baron, a senior in the Operations Research and Financial
Engineering Department who is getting a finance certificate, has
already accepted a position at Bridgewater Associates, an investment
firm. He found out about an internship Bridgewater offered at the
career fair his sophomore year, and was hired for the internship
last summer. After a summer of work, he, like many other seniors
interning in the financial world, was offered a job at the start
of the school year.
Although Baron has always been interested in a finance career,
he believes that the atmosphere at Princeton encourages students
to pursue this career choice.
"You see so many people going into i-banking and consulting,"
Baron said. "It's hard not to get swept up in all the money
that these firms are offering."
Anneliese Gerland, a senior Woodrow Wilson school major interested
in a career outside of investment banking and consulting, also believes
it is hard to keep the job search in perspective. She maintains
that as so many seniors are interviewed and hired for jobs in these
industries, students interested in other fields feel that they are
behind in the job search.
"Firms other than investment banking and consulting are not
hiring right now, and it is hard to remember that," Gerland
said. "If you call up companies, you will find that they are
not prepared to hire this far in advance."
For students interested in nonprofit work, Career Services offers
another career fair later in the year and closer to the time when
these organizations are ready to hire.
As I watch my friends dress in their suits and ties for interview
after interview, it is hard to remember that not only am I not qualified
for the jobs they want, I am also not interested in them. While
jobs with Princeton in Asia and nonprofit organizations are hardly
as glamorous as a life on Wall Street, they seem to be more suited
to my interests and experience. And while I may be earning only
half of the salary of some of my friends next year, I'm pretty sure
I'll be just as happy with my career.