Playing ball with Wall Street

Business, Employment | October 1, 2010 at 12:05 am




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For most of these college graduate’s, the dream was to play in college football’s national championship, and from there perhaps on to the big leagues as a professional. But there is an altogether different pot of gold waiting for these aspiring sportsmen at the end of the rainbow; a nice, fat six figure salary with a Wall Street firm just as soon as they graduate. Many college-going football players are finding that the bonds that tie their team together are also the bonds that can be used to leverage contacts within financial firms to land jobs and internships.

Most of these jobs are the kind that the very top percentile of applicants work hard towards and it is a terrific opportunity for these young adults to make a breakthrough onto Wall Street. And the benefits of having influential Wall Street ties on the athletic board has a ripple effect for these Ivy League schools; they in turn can attract the best talent to their college since these alumni can help prospective job seekers get the kind of jobs and internships that many would give their right arm to have right now.

These summer internships are often offered to Ivy League athletes by executives involved the sports program of the school in question. Others resort to sounding out alumni for references or to simply try and understand what a company wall street firmsneeds. Dozens of school-going athletes will get their jobs eventually with a financial firm, an unlikely marriage that few might see as a perfect fit. Schools such as Duke, Notre Dame and Northwestern already have such industry interfaces setup and are making full use of it all.

And that’s not all; these alumni help the student athletes develop the kind of skills that will be central to obtaining an internship with these Wall Street firms and subsequently, with some luck, a job as well that would be the envy of most. Even such institutions as New York based Columbia University are not immune to this need to leverage networks. They even have a full-time Director of Career Development for athletics. That tells you perhaps how big a deal this is. Etiquette dinners are held where student athletes are educated in the subtleties of making small talk in the midst of a formal dinner. This director, Kimberley Curry, is a liaison between the industry and the college and helps students get placed by constantly working with them. Most of these Ivy League students will not make it to NFL rosters and it is their futures that these schools are safeguarding.

As these alumni networks start to work more closely with their alma mater, these student athletes are benefiting most from it, but these schools are quick to dismiss anyone being given a free ride; the students have to earn their internships and jobs just as anyone else might. The message is clear, in sports and in life you get your breaks but it’s up to the individual to then deliver.

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