Bye-Bye Wall Street! MBA Millennials Eying Startups

The allure of Silicon Valley has been around since the dot-com boom of the 1990’s. Many MBA students have been flocking to startups and technology ever since. Last year, 17% of Harvard Business School graduates went into technology… that’s up from 7% in 2007.

“I think you see more students interested in working in technology companies. Companies like Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), [and] Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) are great brand names and a lot of MBA students have been interacting with them for years so, it give them a chance to work at a company that they feel an affinity for,” says Vince Ponzo, Director of The Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center at Columbia Business School.

“Wall Street has been adjusting to this too. You have companies like Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) that are actually getting more involved in entrepreneurship. So, I don’t think banking is dying, I just think it’s in the mist of a traditional period,” he adds.

Scott Rostan, Founder and CEO of Training The Street (TTS), the leading corporate training provider for Wall Street firms, says banks are getting more attuned to the new demands of the next generation of bankers than in years past.

"This includes more protected off time during the weekends and more flexibility to take vacations. In addition to the work/life balance issues, which remain the most important issue for this generation, salaries continue to rise.” says Rostan.

According to a recent TTS survey of MBA students and graduates, 43% of respondents received a  base salary offers of a least $125,000, up from the 26% of respondents who reported salaries in this range in 2014. spoke to a group of nine second-year Columbia Business School students and not one of them was interested in working  on Wall Street.

“I think as Millennials, we see that tech is shaping our future and we want to be part of that movement,” says Carol Pak, a graduate student focusing on entrepreneurship.

Jenna Moss, another graduate student, says some students no longer brag about scoring that big investment job anymore either.

“One of my professors told us a story the other day, that a student graduating last year told him that she was going off to work at a big bank and she said it kind of sheepishly.”

Alex Sun, who is focusing on consulting, says he still sees a lot of his friends going into investment banking as a good first step.

“They take the job for the money and they do what they are passionate about on the side,” he says.

“I think if we were focusing on making money, we would get into banking or consulting and we would follow those tracks that are very traditional MBA, but I think what we want now is impact and the ability to grow fast,” says Jamie Jick, a graduate student focusing on retail.

Regina Resnick, an Associate Dean and Managing Director at the Career Management Center says 35% of Columbia’s MBA class went into financial services in 2014 and 34% percent when into consulting. “We’re seeing an increasing amount going into investment management,” she says.

Michael De Lucia, Director of International Advising and Business Development, who is also an alumni of Columbia Business School, says twenty years ago, 70% would have gone into financial services. “Today, it’s a clear diversity of choices for students. I think many of them don’t feel limited by their options either,” he adds.

TTS says that is clear that startup jobs are in back in demand again.

“Many MBA grads network well in business school and then become CEO of their own company or CFO of their friend's startup after gaining valuable experience on Wall Street This trend is going strong, but history shows that this is part of a cycle. I would not be surprised if this slowly winds down in the next few years,” says Rostan.