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Wall Street Losses Could Mean Big Gains for Students

October 21, 2008 12:30 PM
by Jen O'Neill
More professionals from the financial sector are leaving behind familiar territory and working to inspire kids in the classroom.

Wall Street Exodus

Amid market volatility, many professionals who have been uprooted from their jobs find themselves pursing unexpected career paths such as teaching, hoping to find stability and fulfillment. A sudden spike in applications for teaching positions is an indicator of a trend of trading in Wall Street for Sesame Street, relishing the opportunity to give back. As Tim Daily of the New Teacher Project points out, big moments such as Sept. 11, “cause people to look for work that has meaning to them.”

Many schools are thrilled that financial gurus are seeking refuge among an enclave of students. Allan Taylor, attorney and chairman of the Connecticut State Board of Education, believes that the move from Wall Street to the head of the classroom significantly enhances educational reform. He told USA Today, “We’ve taken some of the strongest mathematical minds and sent them to figure out computerized stock trading programs." He continues, “I’m not an economist, but in my mind, the country would have been better off if some of them had gone into K-12 or college teaching.”

In fact, new trends reveal that teacher recruiting programs, such as Teach for America have seen 10 percent of their new recruits holding a bachelor’s degree in business, finance or economics. The recruiting director for TFA is content about the new opportunities presented by the current economy, since it’s “opened up a lot of possibilities for people in terms of options they would consider professionally.”

Those who cannot imagine themselves in the center of a classroom setting are tapping into teaching in other ways. Former bank employee Nick Oulton admits that the lack of passion he experienced in the business world caused his transition to education. Starting out as a Latin and Greek teacher—subjects that were foreign to him—Oulton moved on to publish educational materials and textbooks meant to inspire quality teaching in the educational community.

Vanessa Ogden also left the financial sector to delve into the realm of teaching, claiming, “Intellectually, teaching is a very stimulating profession—not that banking isn’t; but teaching is challenging in a deeper way.”

Opinion & Analysis: Recession-proof jobs

According to, the economy dictates attitudes about careers. A thriving economy not only lends an optimistic outlook, it also forces people “to discover their talents and desires and find a creative way to turn them into careers.” In a sour economy, however, people are more apt to seek jobs that provide security.

Among Kiplinger’s list of recession-proof jobs are careers in health care, environmental sciences, government, security and education. According to Kiplinger, education is safe because as long as there are children, there will always be a need for teachers to educate them.

Background: The survey says…

Britain’s central support system for educators, the Training and Development Agency for Schools, recently announced that the number of people searching for teaching careers is on the rise, up 34 percent since the onset of the credit crunch. The organization issued a different report that surveyed more than 1,000 people, showing that about 50 percent of those planning a career change are influenced by the health of the economy.

Related Topics: Proceed with caution, but with an open mind

As experts predict a loss of 120,000 jobs in the New York City area to result from the turmoil on Wall Street, the state is requesting a grant of $60 million to stop job losses and enable those who were laid off to develop skills to switch careers.

Also, given the state of the economy, recent college graduates find changes in their careers before they’ve started. College campuses across the nation are seeing a huge decline in recruiting efforts from the financial sector. Princeton senior, Kenton Murray said, “Jobs are being taken down by the day on our career services Web site,” while banks and financial institutions are simultaneously canceling their campus recruiting sessions. And students at MBA programs are acknowledging the importance of keeping their options wide open for various types of careers, as they cling to the sentiment that early layoffs do not always have to spawn long-term damage.

Reference: Choosing a Career Web Guide


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