|Illustration: Liu Rui|
Working in an investment bank, I have coworkers from all walks of life and various academic backgrounds. Among the chaotic dynamics, however, I have noticed a rising trend: More and more Chinese nationals, most of whom hold advanced degrees in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines from prestigious US universities.
This is just the beginning. Despite the high cost of attendance, such as more than $108,000 for MIT Sloan's program, master's degrees in finance and quantitative finance are heatedly pursued by Chinese applicants, judging from the huge volume of posts about them in online forums.
A simple survey of the bios on finance program websites confirmed my suspect: More than one third of those to-be financiers have a Chinese surname, and most of them studied STEM in college.
While Wall Street is being occupied by protesters, the desks at Wall Street firms are unoccupied. Banks have been slashing headcounts globally, and a lot of firms froze hiring. In fear of losing her current job, a friend went to an Asian career fair, only to find herself among hundreds lining up for one position. Weeks after the unfruitful trip, she was let go.
In this dire job market, it is more than likely for a finance major to graduate jobless. Then, why are college graduates, mid-career scientists, engineers and mathematicians scrambling for a pricey finance degree?
Big paychecks, one might say. True, it's not uncommon for entry level associates to make six-digit, and to double their total annual income with a 100-percent base pay bonus check, if they are lucky or smart enough, which in practices often depends on the market they work in.