Notable banks lack presence at BOC and TOC

As luck would have it, Carnegie Mellon’s Business Opportunities Conference (BOC) happened during one of the worst economic crises in our country’s history. Many investment banking and financial firms are still recoiling from the collapse of mortgage-backed securities, and the stock market has plunged and soared erratically.

Last Monday, Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc. filed for bankruptcy and made history as the largest failure of an investment bank in more than a decade. To prevent further damage, the government has given large bailouts to several financial firms on the brink of bankruptcy, the most recent and largest being American International Group, an insurance company.

Although students at Carnegie Mellon are still a long way from Wall Street, the financial crisis was a very real presence at the BOC last week.

“This year, many future employers were experiencing such difficulty in their own companies that they did not have the time or the money to attend the BOC,” said Kurt Duschl, a senior business administration major and BOC Committee co-chair.

The empty Lehman Brothers booth stood as testament to this time of financial difficulty.

“Investment and commercial banks, who have always been the most reliable and largest sponsors of the BOC, were unable to attend this year because of the current state of the economy,” Duschl said.

Fortunately, according to Duschl, “[BOC] research and recruiting directors focused on industries other than finance—consulting, marketing, purchasing, etc. This strategy worked; this past BOC boasted the highest overall attendance of any BOC ever in its 21-year history.”

Lisa Dickter, a career consultant at the Career Center, confirmed Duschl’s assertion.

“There were more companies at the BOC than in previous years, and we are not seeing a drop in the number of interviews on campus,” she said.

While the financial crisis on Wall Street may have hindered the presence of financial firms at the BOC, it is unclear how the collapse will impact the job opportunities for graduating seniors.

“Seventy percent of Tepper undergraduates are concentrating in finance; and thus, a large number of students have been affected. In context of the BOC, the banks that did decide to attend told us that they were either not recruiting seniors at all or that they were recruiting less than half of the number of seniors that they did in previous years,” Duschl said.

Dickter said she was not yet ready to decide the impact the crisis has had on students.

“We are sure there is some impact, but we have to wait until job offers come out,” Dickter said.

Dickter also pointed out that some smaller financial firms might not have been hurt by the crisis.

“We had a panel of recruiters from smaller financial firms like EWT. They said that the economic crisis was not affecting them, because they do not operate on such a large scale,” Dickter said.
For Duschl, however, the financial crisis has already cost him a job.

“This summer, I interned at Lehman Brothers in the Capital Markets Prime Brokerage Division. After my internship, I received a full-time offer to join the analyst class of 2009. This past Monday, Lehman filed for bankruptcy. The filing essentially nullified all contracts — including offer letters — as the bank was going to cease to exist. The Lehman collapse was definitely a set-back in my personal job search,” he said.

Despite his bad luck, Duschl remains hopeful.

“I did talk with firms at the BOC about possible full-time positions. I am confident that opportunities will present themselves for future opportunities,” he said.