A number of recent Penn graduates have been let go or quit as a result of the turbulent economy. Others chose to avoid the financial industry to begin with.
As an alternative to working for an established firm, these alumni have launched their own companies or become involved with family businesses. Ultimately, this alternative permits recent graduates to depend less on the currently erratic economy and pursue other interests.
Danny Panzer, who graduated from Wharton and the School of Engineering in 2007, turned down jobs at Morgan Stanley and other leading financial firms upon graduation.
Instead, after studying both finance and computer science engineering, Panzer and a partner created FanFetch.com. The Web site connects buyers and sellers to negotiate prices on tickets for events and concerts in an effort to avoid cost inflation.
Panzer attributed his atypical first step into the business world to a Wharton professor he had his senior year. The professor recognized that Panzer had a greater penchant for technology than finance and advised him to pursue his interests. With this in mind, Panzer decided to sidestep the financial market with his own venture.
But unlike Panzer, Varun Sureka, who graduated from Wharton and the College in 2006, began his employment at Credit Suisse in real estate. In the fall of 2007, however, Sureka decided to quit his job since he could foresee the "effects of the subprime mortgage crisis," he said.
Now, Sureka works with his family manufacturing tires and tubes for developing markets.
While his current work environment may not be as structured as that of Credit Suisse, Sureka spoke favorably of his present job because he "gets to participate in [making] big-picture decisions" and exercise the "ability to drive the change" he wants to see, he said.
Meanwhile, Amit Friedlander, who also graduated from Wharton and the College in 2006, interned at various financial institutions, such as Oliver Wyman in New York, working with hedge funds and performing strategy consulting.
When the economy crashed, however, Friedlander saw an opportunity to work for MoveRight Consulting, which was founded by his mother. The company provides consultation and systematic treatment for computer users, musicians and others who suffer stress or pain from repetitive motion injuries.
Still, these students' stories are unique, according to Career Services director Patricia Rose, who explained that few students are self-employed immediately following graduation. Although data for the class of 2009 is not yet available, she cited statistics from the classes of 2007 and 2008.
In 2008, only six Wharton graduates were self-employed out of a total 548 who completed surveys. In 2007, that number was slightly higher at 12 out of 506 - although still a meager 2.4 percent.
Rose predicted that, despite recent troubles on Wall Street, the number of self-employed recent graduates will remain a small number.
"[Recent alumni] don't have the access to capital or work experience to start up [their own businesses]," she said.Comments powered by Disqus
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