Back in August, a Dartmouth student named Andrew Lohse made a simple request of his peers: to stop being whores for Wall Street. "Should landing jobs prestigious 16-hour-a-day jobs at some faceless hedge fund, where they'll learn about manipulating capital instead of imagining a freer and more just world be the goal of the valedictorians of Ivy League institutions," Lohse asked and then answered, "No matter how hard I try, I cannot think of more pathetic ambitions." Lohse charged the undergraduates to "do better" and by better he meant anything other than being "pulled into what is essentially a vulgar and extortionate system of lending and predatory capitalism which is increasingly underwritten by what remains of the public’s coffers." Was Lohse's argument a persuasive one? Did the image of him "vomiting in my mouth" at the idea of his peers becoming financial services employees cause anyone to reconsider?
Apparently, not so much.
Wall Street’s allure may have dimmed for some of America’s sharpest young minds in recent years, but a quick look at the top of Dartmouth College’s class of 2012 shows that the appeal seems to remain strong. At its commencement on Sunday, Dartmouth recognized four valedictorians who graduated with perfect 4.0 grade-point averages. Three are headed to work on Wall Street at major investment banks, and one will go to the giant business consulting firm that advises them. “Certain people have the view where finance is perceived in a more negative light,” said David Rogg, one of the valedictorians, noting that there was an active chapter of the Occupy movement on Dartmouth’s campus. “But a lot of people still find it to be a very positive industry.”
He has a job lined up at Goldman Sachs, as does another of the valedictorians, Jie Zhong; a third, Wills Begor, will go to Morgan Stanley. The other valedictorian, Glynnis Kearney, will work at McKinsey & Company. Mr. Begor said some of his peers’ interest in Wall Street had diminished, “but for me, it’s an extension of the academic challenges at Dartmouth, to learn about finance, which is something we don’t get exposed to at a liberal arts college.”
Begor did add that his gig is "just for two years" and "has been accepted to Harvard Business School, starting in 2014," so perhaps Andy got under his skin a little.