Is Teach First really an alternative route into a graduate job at Goldman Sachs?

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What do you do if you wanted to work at Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, or another well known bank when you left university, but you didn't get in?

Of course, you could always choose to do a Masters in Finance, but that will cost you £20k+ and will guarantee you neither a job nor higher pay than people with only a bachelor's degree. If you want to save your money and embellish your CV, you could always try Teach First. 

In 2013, Teach First took on 1,261 graduates in the U.K., making it one of the country's biggest graduate recruiters. The programme, which is modeled on Teach America in the U.S., is only open to graduates with a 2.1 degree. It offers students six weeks of training in its 'institute' and then sends to work in some of the UK's toughest schools for two years. At the end of the two years the expectation (implied in the 'Teach First' name) has traditionally been that many of the teachers will move on and do something else instead.

From Teach First to trading?

There are some clear links between Teach First and banking. The organisation counts Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Credit Suisse and UBS among its platinum sponsors and James Darley, graduate recruitment director at Teach First, spent a year and a half recruiting graduates into Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse before joining the organisation ten years ago.

There are also clear signs that people do go from Teach First into banking jobs and vice versa. Last summer, Goldman Sachs hired Adrian Johnston, a former maths teacher with Teach First, onto its equities training programme. Citi hired Josh Farrell, a former history teacher with Teach First, as a trainee rates trader. Meanwhile, Robert McFayden, a Kings College graduate and former summer intern in Goldman's risk business, is currently on a two week placement as a physics teacher in West London.

However, to think that Teach First will take you seamlessly into a trading job would be a mistake. Ten years ago, Teach First was frequently touted as an alternative route into banking. Now, the organisation seems keener to portray itself as a means of training-up teachers.

"It's a common misconception that people go through Teach First and then work in finance or other sectors," a spokesman for Teach First tells us. "In total 54% of our people stay in teaching and 70% of them stay in education in some form - often working for the government's education department."

This is confirmed by online CVs. In total, over 3,000 people in the UK have Teach First on their CV, but fewer than 50 of them are working in banking. That's not a great hit rate if you intend to use the programme as a route into finance. The only good news? While most banks have now filled their graduate places for 2014, Teach First is still accepting applications.

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