Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Unraveling of finance internships, and a black market for courses

Mallesh Pai points me to this story in Philadelphia Magazine, from the University of Pennsylvania:

Desperate for High-Paying Wall Street Jobs, Penn Students Try Buying Their Way Into the Right Classes--Out-of-control corporate recruiting — and a new black market  by DAVID MURRELL

"...students had been posting in Penn student group chats saying they’d be willing to pay their way into courses they hadn’t been able to get into. There was a simple workaround: These students would offer money to entice another student to drop the class, then swoop in through the online registration portal to take the newly free seat. The going rate looked to be about $50 to $60 for a class.
"Five years ago, sophomores like Current might not have been so desperate. Back then, finance companies hired for their all-important junior-year summer internships just a few months ahead of time. But recently, in an attempt to scoop up the best students before anyone else, companies have moved up the timeline. It’s now standard practice for finance firms to recruit sophomores like Current — who has only completed three semesters of college and hasn’t even declared a major — for those same junior-year summer internships a full 18 months in advance.
"As it happened, Current’s scheme to buy his way into Corporate Valuation didn’t quite work as planned. He was foiled by the course registration system. His co-conspirator did indeed drop the class, but a spot never opened up. (Current now thinks he failed to account for a wait-list.) But while he came up empty, other students say they know people who have succeeded.

“This is very common,” says junior Valentina Losada, another vet of the corporate recruiting wars. “It’s not even seen as something bad.”
"firms have realized they don’t need the university anymore; they can conduct phone and Skype interviews, then bring candidates to New York City for the final round. When deciding whether to recruit on campus at Penn or bypass the school and face no institutional regulation, guess which option the banks have chosen?

"Having granted themselves free rein, many companies are now acting like monopolistic bullies. They move the recruiting cycles ever earlier in a race to reach job applicants first. (Shout-out to the free market!) They don’t give students time to consider other internships, sometimes requiring job commitments just one or two days after the initial offer. Escudero says she’s had friends who received offers only to be told they had to give their answer on the spot — take it or leave it.
"The pressure also produces some peculiar unintended consequences, like the underground course-swap marketplace. Both Losada and Bomba say they have friends who have successfully bought or sold classes. "

Here's a related story in the Daily Pennsylvanian:

Ilyse Reisman | Penn students, please don’t sell your classes | Classes should not be treated like stocks

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