Asset Management Dream Job Deferred

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As the chief investment officer of the student-run M.A. Wright Fund, Rice University M.B.A. student Will Shen was able to post returns that beat his fund's benchmarks. Translating that success outside of the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management is proving to be difficult.

The 31-year-old, who chose asset management after he found dental school and the import/export business did not suit him, is in a better position than many of his classmates. His resume already shows an internship at Goldman Sachs Group - a key with potential to open many a door. But while Shen found the experience rewarding, it convinced him he did not want to be an investment banker.

"I never knew what it felt like to work 100 hours a week prior to this summer," says Shen, who traveled between New York and Houston. "We had socials that the company organized. There really was not much time and space for fun." The internship whet his appetite for a career in capital markets - but not investment banking, which he felt lacked "ownership of your decisions."

Chinese Language Plus Goldman - Still No Luck

Like many jobseekers, Shen is trying to use every advantage at his disposal. Born in Shanghai and fluent in Chinese, he tried unsuccessfully to get positions in Hong Kong. He is traveling again to China for the holidays and hopes to meet with potential employers there.

"I have been trying to find a job since my summer internship ended," Shen says. "It's been tough."

Nor has having Goldman Sachs on his resume proven to be the employment ticket Shen expected. Still, he is glad he did it. "I thought it was a very good way to open the door to a lot of positions," he says. "It has helped my career and changed my life."

As graduation approaches, the challenge of landing a job will grow harder. Experts expect unemployment to rise, and layoffs in financial services show no signs of slowing. That means Shen is trying to break into asset management while the market is flooded with experienced applicants released by banks and other financial institutions. He says employers have told him that in a normal job market he would have been hired right away.

Nonetheless, he counts himself one of the luckier ones. Many foreign M.B.A. students are being advised to return to their home countries. "I have a lot of pessimistic classmates right now," he remarks. "There are a lot of jokes about folding clothes at the Gap or working at McDonald's."

As for Shen himself, he remains optimistic that he will get hired before graduation - even if it won't be his dream job.

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