Monday, April 13, 2015

Why a Harvard Professor Has Mixed Feelings When Students Take Jobs in Finance

New York Times
April 10th, 2015


This is a bittersweet time on campus. Seniors are beginning to find jobs, and while their enthusiasm is infectious, some of their choices give me pause.
Many of the best students are not going to research cancer, teach and inspire the next generation, or embark on careers in public service. Instead, large numbers are becoming traders, brokers and bankers. At Harvard in 2014, nearly one in five students who took a job went to finance. For economics majors, the number was closer to one in two. I can’t help wondering: Is this the best use of talent?
Of course, these are intensely personal choices as young people chase their aspirations and dreams. But if a favorite student of mine comes up to me and says, “I just got an offer at this investment bank and I’m going to take it,” I want to know how should I feel about it. I will be happy for her individually, but still I wonder: Is this a good decision for society as a whole?

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