Everyone from the mayor to business leaders to real estate brokers is betting on tech as the next engine of the city’s economy.
But business school students aren’t. They remain committed to finance, though now they want to work for hedge funds and private equity rather than the big-name banks.
On a grey day outside Stern, NYU’s prestigious school of business,
Alan Cha, a third-year finance major, says he will have to compete
with PhD holders for Wall Street jobs.
“Our job opportunities are getting less and less because of
quantitative traders who are out using algorithms to trade,” he said.
“And undergrad business students just don’t have the math skills or
quant skills to even compete in the field.”
Cha wants to go into asset management and work for a hedge fund,
saying it was more interesting to him than investment banking. “It is
very profitable and to be perfectly frank, the income cap is much
higher than technology,” he said. “It’s just much more fixed salary
kind of work.”
Tech is growing while Wall Street jobs dwindle. The state comptroller estimates that New York City hosts 100,000 tech jobs. Wages average over $118,000 in the city, and more than half of
those jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree.
But jobs on Wall Street and in tech are not interchangeable.
Except for the founding few, tech jobs still don’t pay as much as Wall
Street. The average employee salary at Goldman was $383,000 in 2013.
Goldman hired 332 analysts in 2014, many fresh out of college.
Goldman Sachs may be in the market for programmers and quantitative
specialists, but business majors don’t expect the same treatment at
Google now has 4,000 employees in New York City, about half of which
are software engineers. The others are in sales, plus a small crew in
advertising, communications and human resources.
Goldman Sachs moved near twice that number into its downtown
headquarters in 2010. JP Morgan Chase wants to put 16,000 employees at
the new headquarters it is proposing in Midtown West.
But some millennials at Stern are thinking outside the banks, looking
to consulting and hedge funds. They say they want interesting work,
friendly environments and room for creativity, all within the confines
Conan Chui, a sophomore from Singapore with a finance major and
creative writing minor, said he wanted to work for a boutique
consulting firm “because I think Wall Street is a little bit overrated
and I want to try something a little bit off the beaten path,” he
“Overrated in the sense that it’s pretty saturated and at times overly
structured,” he added.
Max K., 28, an associate at a private investment firm, said investment
banking has lost the luster it had before the financial crisis and the
age of hedge funds, private equity and tech.
“Since like 2000, a lot of Wall Street, even though it’s lucrative is
not socially deemed as where a lot of top talent goes,” he said. “So a
lot of people do private equity, hedge funds, the tech scene. In a way
that I feel like 10 or 15 years ago, those people would want to work
at Goldman Sachs.”
Gregory Souter, 19, a freshman studying marketing, said he didn’t
think he would end up on Wall Street. “I hope to be a little more
creative than that,” he said.
He wants to one day start his own company.
“Hopefully some sort of environmental, tech-y company,” he said. “I
think that it would be really nice to help the world out a little bit
and still make money at the same time.”
Jasmine He, 22, a senior with a double major in finance and global
business, is considering going into risk management or consulting.
“I want to do consulting or something related to financial
institutions but probably not investment banking,” said He.
“I know there’s a stereotypical image about what kind of people will
work on Wall Street, and I feel like that’s just not me.”
He said she is looking for a friendly environment.
At the tech company Venmo, Optional responsibilities listed for a
designer job include but are not limited to: “throwing dodgeballs,
questing for and enjoying the best ramen spots in the city, growing
the team’s appreciation for various coffees and craft beers.”
But He will not be applying for tech jobs because she doesn’t have the
qualifications. “Personally, I wouldn’t have an edge when it comes to
like Google or Facebook,” He said.
She said that at Stern, Wall Street is still king. “That’s what people
think the best Sternies will go to, really leverage the financial
backgrounds you learn here,” she said.