Valedictorians to pursue finance

by Diana Ming | 6/21/12 10:00pm

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by The Dartmouth and The Dartmouth and Jenny Che / The Dartmouth

On June 15, The New York Times cited the career plans of the College's valedictorians as a reflection of the enduring interest of college graduates in working on Wall Street despite the current financial crisis in an article titled "Finance Jobs Still Appeal to Graduates at Dartmouth."

"Wall Street's allure may have dimmed for some of America's sharpest young minds in recent years, but a quick look at the top of Dartmouth College's Class of 2012 shows that the appeal seems to remain strong," the article said.

Rogg and Zhong will both work as analysts for Goldman Sachs' investment banking division, while Begor will work as an investment banker in Morgan Stanley's mergers and acquisitions division. Kearney will work as a business analyst at McKinsey and Company.

"To some extent I think it was accidental," Director of Career Services Monica Wilson said. "I thought their similar paths were interesting but also somewhat surprising given the wide variety of opportunities out there and the diversity of interests that exist among Dartmouth students."

According to a survey conducted by Career Services in April, the most popular job fields for the Class of 2012 include teaching, finance, consulting, communications and jobs involving research and analysis.

Wilson said that while students choose to enter a variety of sectors, finance remains a traditionally popular industry for Dartmouth graduates because of strong alumni recruiting efforts and high salaries.

"A lot of alumni have gone into [finance] in the past, so they tend to reach out to Dartmouth to recruit in an effort to support their school," she said. "These opportunities have also historically paid at a high rate, and now more than ever students have larger loans to pay off, and this can strongly influence their job decision."

Rogg said that he believes the similar job choices of the co-valedictorians were coincidental.

"I know people at Dartmouth that are doing so many different things whether it is medical school, law school, finance or consulting," he said. "It is somewhat coincidental that this year's valedictorians all are economics majors, and economics majors do tend to go into these industries. Most years it's a lot more mixed. It's just how it turned out."

For the Class of 2011, Dartmouth's two valedictorians chose to pursue humanitarian work and writing. Out of Dartmouth's four valedictorians for the Class of 2010, two students took finance jobs and two pursued further academic study. In 2009, both College valedictorians chose to enter law school.

Rogg, a double major in economics and Hispanic studies and a computer science minor, said he chose to work in finance as a way to apply his interest in economics.

"Finance is a great field to learn responsibility and to make real impact," he said. "And with the tough economy out there, finance can have the potential to help conditions and really improve conditions today."

Zhong, a double major in economics and mathematics and an Asian and Middle Eastern studies minor, said his two-year position at Goldman Sachs will provide him with a practical education in contrast to his academic one.

"After acquiring enough relevant experience, it will be easier to set up start-up businesses or NGOs, just as college education upgrades a high school graduate's capability to chase his or her dream," he said in an email to The Dartmouth. "My first job is not a permanent job and will bring me closer to what I want to do in the long run. I clearly knew this before I signed the offer."

Kearney, an economics and mathematics double major and studio art minor, said she chose to take a job in consulting because it is the "best way" for her to explore her interest in business and prepare her for work in a variety of sectors.

"I'm interested in business but I am not sure what type yet," she said. "Because Dartmouth is a liberal arts college, we don't have business majors. McKinsey will give me the opportunity to try out different things to see what in particular I want to do without committing to a specific sector just yet."

Wilson said that jobs at consulting firms such as McKinsey give students a "great introduction" to the world of business and provide a structured program that other organizations do not have the capability to offer.

Founder of the Occupy Dartmouth movement and outspoken Wall Street critic Nathan Gusdorf '12 said the trend is both "revealing and depressing."

"I don't think it's purely coincidental by any means," Gusdorf said. "This pattern tells us what kinds of interests and career paths are supported and encouraged by Dartmouth as a whole."

Gusdorf, who received the College's James B. Reynolds Scholarship for Foreign Study to study philosophy at the University of Frankfurt for the next year, said a particular culture at Dartmouth exists that prioritizes corporate interests.

Zhong said he was surprised to see the other valedictorians also take finance jobs, but he does not consider the situation "fundamentally wrong."

"It is true that people prefer dropping-out school stories like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs, but there are far more other great people who earn their legendary success from a normal' job at first," Zhong said. "Taking a finance job never means being an accomplice to a financial crisis."

Rogg said that Dartmouth's liberal arts foundation allows students to pursue any passion or subject.

"Everyone's entitled to their opinions, but to me, [finance] is just something that if you go into it with a strong bill of confidence you can make a strong and meaningful impact," he said.

Kearney said that public opinion against the financial sector did not impact her job decision.

"There is criticism but that does not mean that these jobs are not a good learning experience for someone going into business or finance," she said.

Kearney and Rogg are former members of The Dartmouth Senior Staff.

Begor did not respond to requests for comment by press time.