Finance, technology present equally viable career paths

Goldman Sachs or Google? For many aspiring college students, an offer from either would make their day.

Recently, however, a debate between Robert Shiller, one of the recipients of this year’s Nobel Prize in economics, and Vivek Wadwha, a tech-industry entrepreneur and academic, raised the question of which career paths college graduates should take in order to obtain a high-powered profession.

Although debating a Nobel Prize winner would be intimidating to many, Wadwha did not hold back. Comparing the developments in modern finance to innovative practices in “financial skimming,” Wadwha argued that the best minds of this generation should be focused on going into the technology sector in order to create products that provide innovative solutions to today’s problems.

Although Wadwha makes a valid argument – given that the most recent financial crisis stemmed in large part from opaque investments in mortgage backed securities, collateralized debt obligations and derivatives – the financial industry and Wall Street are not without purpose. Shiller, defending the finance industry, made a valid point when he stated that these two industries need not be in competition with each other for top talent because financial institutions provide the capital that allows technology businesses to grow.

It is unfortunate that Wadwha painted such a bleak picture of the financial industry, as it is a sector that provides college graduates, and many students here at the University of Miami, with a job and promising growth prospects.

According to the most recent census data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income of financial analysts in 2010 was $74,350, and the number of financial analysts is expected to grow by 23 percent between 2010 and 2020. Computer programmers and software developers are in a similarly well off position, with average median income of approximately $81,000 annually, with growth prospects closer to 30 percent.

These growth rates, well above the projected growth rate of 14 percent for all occupations, demonstrates that for students at UM and other top schools, positions in finance or technology companies are a great way to start one’s career.

Wall Street and Silicon Valley present two of the most competitive yet rewarding opportunities in the nation, and ambitious students here at UM should not be dissuaded by either man’s argument.

Whether Goldman or Google, UM graduates following tech and finance careers will obtain the high-powered career they are looking for, all while bringing prestige to the university community as a whole.

Paul Ryan is a junior majoring in economics and finance.