At the university of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business, 40% of the students seeking a master's degree specialize in finance. But when Chris Gibson gets his MBA in May, he won't be heading to Wall Street -- and he's darn happy about that.
Last summer, Gibson, 28, interned with the New York investment-banking arm of Swiss banking giant UBS. But when he didn't get a job offer after the stock-market meltdown, Gibson decided that a career in corporate restructuring, in which he'd help companies refinance or get out of debt, had a much brighter future than one helping companies peddle stocks to investors. So after graduation he'll take a job with consulting firm FTI, in Chicago. "It will be a much better fit," he says.
With today's dicey financial markets, students who started with designs on Wall Street are now looking elsewhere. Some will land at boutique investment firms in midsize cities. Less affected by the subprime-credit fiasco, these firms coordinate mergers and manage stock offerings like their bigger brethren, but on a smaller scale -- and without extravagant bonuses.
Some finance majors will ply their trade in the corporate sector instead of on Wall Street, working on deals from the boardroom rather than the trading desk. Other students find there's demand for business skills such as sales and marketing.
Consulting demand is still good for expertise in managing corporate risk -- or, as Gibson has found, in working with struggling firms, where business, sadly, remains brisk.