Career advice for the budding tycoon in us all
It’s official: socialism sucks. A headline this Saturday in the New York Times slapped upon socialized medicine the red-white-and-blue sticker of rejection as it proclaimed “In Massachusetts, Universal Coverage Strains Care.” A-hah! Take that you northeastern, elitist, pinko-commies.
The terrible system, lacking all the proper scientifically documented invisible hand forces Newton describes in Principia Mathematica, was leading to massive shortages — waiting lists longer than those for attending Harvard! And this was all socialism’s fault.
Well, sort of. The article then went on to explain that, nationwide, there’s been a shortage of primary care physicians. Apparently medical school is really hard, student debt is really high, and plastic surgeons make more money. The doctors are just going where the higher wages are. Okay, so now this is sounding like capitalism’s fault. Dammit!
Many fields well beyond medicine also face this shortage of professionals willing to pursue “less than glamorous” careers. New York and many other states are so desperate for math and science teachers that a math, science or engineering major with a teaching degree can pretty much expect to get hired in the first district he applies to. They cannot, however, expect a six-figure income.
Cornell undergrads, saddled with Big Red Debt, overbearing parents or a combination of the two, tend to seek the jobs that are a bit more financially secure. “Pediatrician” and “schoolteacher” don’t rank high on many students’ lists.
So what are the “glam jobs,” if you will, of fresh faced Cornell alums? Well from the scraps of conversation I’ve heard in socially diverse campus-wide gathering spots (like The Terrace), these basically come down to being a consultant, hedge fund manager, or financier. Before I go on a tirade about meaningful contributions to society, I figured I would do a little research on these miracle jobs.
According to Wikipedia a consultant is, “a professional who provides advice in a particular area of expertise such as accountancy, the environment, technology, law, human resources, [insert lengthy list], graphic design, or waste management.” That sort of specific definition really clears things up for me. Wiki (I can call you Wiki, right?) also notes that the term is sometimes used “euphemistically for temporary staff.” So all you movers and shakers out there be warned: not only will the hot Manhattan chicks at the over-priced bar grow bored when you try to explain the complicated method in which you earn your millions, they may also suspect you’re an over-priced temp. Not exactly the supposition you intended when you popped your collar that evening, now was it?
How about that infamous hedge fund manager: the ever-so-smart-but-definitely-not-nerdy-looking, American Psycho-watching, house-in-the-Hamptons-buying hunk rocking the Armani down Park Avenue like nobody’s business? Wikipedia says that a Hedge Fund is “a private investment fund that charges a performance fee and is typically open to a limited range of qualified people [read: all the best sorts of people].” This sort of career must make for a wonderful dinner conversation: “Oh yeah, you know, I basically charge millions to shuffle around Tom Buchanan’s money, and then get bailed out by the Federal Reserve when my firm tanks.” Humanitarians are so sexy.
But so what if we like money? Cornell just punched us in the financial balls, and what was the point of going Ivy if all we’ll end up doing is teaching trigonometry in the Bronx?
My high school calculus teacher had a video he had his students watch at the end of every year. The movie was called Stand And Deliver and, incidentally, was about the A.P. Calculus exam. The film was based on a true story, and took place at an inner city high school in Los Angeles, where in 1982 a new teacher came along and took failing students from sub par algebra to 4s and 5s on the A.P. Calc exam. The College Board was so skeptical it accused the class of cheating and demanded a retest, which all the students passed.
So maybe the ladies might just find it sexy that you turn inner-city troublemakers into first generation college grads. Because to the best of my knowledge, there’s no heart warming movie about a hedge fund manager or stock broker who became the hero of minority children … but there was American Psycho.
Not to blame Cornell, but I’m guessing the $40,000 cost of education probably doesn’t steer graduates towards less lucrative careers. It certainly doesn’t help little Suzie explain to her parents and the loan companies why she wants to spend the next six years getting a Ph.D in anthropology. It also means more students conjugate their sentences in the conditional when discussing plans to work for Doctors Without Borders or Teach for America. Then again, why should Cornell be concerned? These sorts of do-gooders aren’t the ones donating $400 million to Weill Cornell Medical College. Not that I’m accusing Cornell of following faulty capitalist incentives. After all, we’ve already concluded: socialism sucks.
Munier Salem is an assistant design editor at The Sun and a sophomore in the College of Engineering. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Critical Mass will appear alternate Thursdays this semester.