Foster finance

Foster finance

staff staff

MATTHEW STUMACHER

Serving food and making
drinks at La Stalla, an Italian
restaurant in Newtown, was
not what Ian Foster envisioned
after receiving his bachelor’s
degree in economics from the
renowned University of
Pennsylvania. However, Foster
is just one of many college
graduates who have not been
able to secure a job in their
field of study.
According to the Bureau of
Labor Statistics, unemployment
is at 9.7 percent, and the
rate for college graduates is at
5 percent. For those college
graduates who do find jobs,
most are not employed in the
field in which they hold a
degree. In fact, some studies
suggest that less than 25 percent
of college students enter a
career field in their area of
study immediately out of college.
Foster may make good
money working at La Stalla,
probably around $50,000 a
year, but he did not plan to
stray from a career in finance,
and take a pay cut as a result.
This has become a common
trend, with economic research
showing that the consequences
of graduating in a downturn
are long-lasting. They include
lower earnings, a slower climb
up the occupational ladder, and
a widening gap between the
least- and most-successful
grads.
Foster fits into this mold.
After graduating in 2009,
Foster began his search for a
job in the finance world with
little to no luck.
“I am lucky enough to know
several people in the finance
and banking field and all of
them have said exactly the
same thing, ‘almost no one is
hiring right now,'” Foster said.
“I have heard from one friend
that four or five years ago I
would have been grabbed by a
bulge-bracket investment bank
and would have been through
my analysis.”
Despite the weakened economy
and job market, Foster is
not discouraged. Foster, 28,
originally attended Penn State
University from 1999 to 2001,
where he majored in civil engineering.
After taking time off to deal
with family issues, Foster registered
for classes in 2005 at
Bucks. “I went to take some
general classes because I had
realized during my time off
that I would not be happy continuing
my course as an engineering
student,” Foster said.
After 2006, he was accepted
to the University of
Pennsylvania for the fall of
2007. “I chose to take up economics,
concentrating in
finance,” Foster said. “I
ended up with economics
and finance because I heard
about both everyday and
always found it interesting
watching markets and how
they worked.”
Foster graduated this year,
and over the past few months
he has gone on several job
interviews. Many of the jobs
he considered were paid
opportunities, others were
for internships, and still
some of his interviews he
went on simply for the experience.
“Other than the fact that
most firms within the industry
I would like to break into
aren’t hiring, the current market
situation is very interesting
to me and reinforces my
decision to go into finance,”
Foster said in regards to his
decision to work at a restaurant
rather than the financial world.
“Most financial sales positions
start at 100 percent commission,
and require a lot of hard
work and dedication. This is a
hard job to take on while still
needing to pay bills and make a
living.”
Foster’s short term goal is to
land a permanent position
within either an asset management
firm, hedge fund, or
investment bank. He would
prefer to work there for two to
three years and then continue
with school to get his MBA.
Foster’s long-term career
goal is to reach the position
within the bank where he can
manage a team of analysts and
oversee their performance, in
order to take on more of a
teaching and leadership role
within the firm.
“The current economic state
has not made me reconsider
my career goals overall, however;
it has definitely altered
the timetable I would like to
accomplish them in,” Foster
said. “Everything has been
pushed back a few years
because of the job market and
so few opportunities.”
Foster’s timetable may have
been altered yet his motivation
still stands strong.
“What keeps me motivated
about finance and economics
even in today’s market is the
fact that it’s what I’m passionate
about,” Foster said. “If I
gave up every time I didn’t
breeze through, I would never
get anywhere.
The current job market has
further driven home my own
belief that finance is where I
belong; if I didn’t really love it
I would have moved on by
now, trust me.”
“I know that when I started
my academic career at PSU
everyone was always talking
about what the ‘hot degree’
was going to be when it came
time to graduate,” Foster said.
“Yes, I do think students will
reconsider their majors during
an economic crisis like this.
However, I don’t agree with
that philosophy. I think you
should study what interests
you, put your all into it, and
when it’s all over you’ll end up
in the right place.”
It seems that many students
are actually taking Foster’s
advice and staying in school
longer than in past years, to
pursue their dreams. In fact,
graduate applications for the
2007-2008 school year were
up eight percent nationwide
compared to the year before,
according to the most recent
numbers from the Council of
Graduate Schools.
When asked if he could go
back in time with the knowledge
he has now, if and what
he would change, Foster said
“Knowing what I know now
about our economy and our
financial situation right now I
may have prepared myself differently,
however I certainly
would not have changed my
major or my academic path.
You have your
whole life to
perfect your
career but only
around four
years to learn
about what you
want to study, so
make the best of
it and worry
about a career
when you have
t o .
That being said,
it would be pretty
nice to be a
b a n k r u p t c y
attorney right
now: I bet
they’re cleaning
up… .”
Foster is an
example of staying
on your path
and continuing
with your dreams. He’s
accepted an unpaid position
with a small asset management
company and is currently performing
security analysis for
several industries. Foster is
able to manage his time and
still maintain a full-time work
schedule at La Stalla restaurant.
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