Harvard grads wary of Wall Street

Interest in the financial sector plummets as students strive for more fulfilling gigs in health care and government.

By Jason Notte May 29, 2013 4:22PM
Image: Graduation cap (© Stockdisc/SuperStock)There used to be a direct pipeline from Harvard to Wall Street that kept graduates flowing into the financial sector and kept America's finest minds hard at work turning money into more money.

Somewhere along the route from Harvard Square to South Station and down I-95, that pipeline shrank and Harvard grads began following other routes. While the Harvard Crimson notes that 47% of Harvard graduates took jobs in finance just before the recession in 2007, only 15% of this year's graduates plan to do the same.

While 16% of grads would rather tap their vast collegiate experience to work as consultants, a full 20% say they'd rather work in health care a decade from now than in any other field. Not a bad decision, as Forbes reports that Wall Street is still laying off more workers than it's hiring. Meanwhile, those fat Wall Street bonuses that used to reel in all the business school talent have fallen 38% in the last year, according to eFinancialCareers.

Yeah, as it turns out, when a financial crisis and recession strip all the gilding off Wall Street gigs and make floor trader coffee runs to Financier seem like any other gofer's job, Harvard's best and brightest -- along with just about every other college grad -- want to use their education to help someone other than themselves. The National Association of High School Scholars recently issued the results of its own survey asking college students where they dreamed of working. The top answer: the St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., which supplanted former No. 1 Google.

Of the top 25 places students wanted to work, St. Jude joined The Mayo Clinic, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and “my local hospital” among the top choices. While Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG) and Disney (DIS) still found spots in the top 10, the shift toward health care jobs and government positions with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency indicate that piling up a stack of cash for the next bubble may be a low priority for graduates looking for fulfillment or a more tangible way to make a difference.

More on moneyNOW

May 30, 2013 9:36AM

They may be some of the brightest but I would not say finest.


My friends that went to Harvard are all narcissists now, oh wait, maybe that is the Wall Street/Harvard

combo. Good luck to them in the real world.

May 29, 2013 5:22PM
Great, here comes the next generation of community organizers, ready to "make a difference". 
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