Big firms hope to lure teenagers with tech futures





NEW YORK — At the first New York edition of Internapalooza, engineers from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Quicken Loans Inc. greeted hundreds of computer science students with smiles and swag as their firms worked to recruit young talent.

But one high school senior on a day off from from his internship at a venture capital firm wasn’t sold.

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“They’re looking pretty desperate,” said Shreyas Parab, wearing a mustache-print necktie made by a company he founded. “They’re not super attractive for people who are entrepreneurial.”

Luckily he had someone to set him straight, someone he trusted implicitly even though they had just met: a software-engineering intern at Google.

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“Any of these can be interesting experiences,” Mahmoud Atef, a senior at Alexandria University in Egypt, said of the opportunities he’d surveyed including at startup mortgage-technology firm Blend and hedge fund Two Sigma. “These companies will be as competitive as Google,” he said. The Quicken Loans staff “had a lot of energy,” he added.

“I’m still figuring things out,” Parab, 16, conceded.

Financial-services companies have contended with a bias among younger job-seekers who are dazzled by tech startups after the conspicuous success of firms like Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon.com Inc., and Facebook Inc. 

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Students attending Sunday’s Internapalooza seemed receptive to overtures from the world of finance, even without some of the creature comforts long associated with a Wall Street firm’s recruiting. Soda, snacks, and coffee — not steak — were offered at the midtown event space where air conditioning never really kicked in, though the Quicken Loans fans powered by iPhones came in handy.

Hundreds of STEM students — science, tech, engineering, and math — heard about the event through word of mouth, said organizer Cory Levy. They showed up ready to learn — and to stand in lines, some of them more than 15 people plus backpacks deep, just to meet an engineer or recruiter at a company that might one day offer them a position.

Top STEM students with a bachelor’s degrees can earn up to $150,000 at most leading banks, hedge funds, and tech firms, according to research by Options Group, an executive-search firm. At some tech firms, stock bonuses can increase the total package to $200,000, said Jessica Lee, an executive director at Options Group.

“I’m fine working in finance or tech,” said Naeem Hossain, 21, a senior at Rutgers University in New Jersey who has a software-engineering internship at Prudential Financial Inc. this summer and talked with an engineer at Blend. The jobs sounded hands-on, which he liked. “My criteria is, I get to learn a lot and I am personally invested in the project.”

Rohan Doshi, who’s 20 and a senior at Princeton University, said his job search is about “optimizing my chance to have as much impact as possible.” He’s majoring in computer science and minoring in financial engineering and East Asian studies.

Wall Street is working to reach out to STEM students with campus recruiting visits and “hackathons,” intensive coding events that promote collaboration. Goldman Sachs analyst Maria Samuel, 24, who works on Marquee, the firm’s digital platform for institutional investors, talked to about 50 students at Internapalooza and noticed a change in attitudes since a Goldman Sachs hackathon she attended a year and a half ago.

She said that students at Internapalooza had “done their homework” and had less aversion to financial services.

“We can train you in the business,” she said. “What we’re looking for is curiosity, the desire to learn.” The Marquee team alone is looking to double in size to 100 people, she said.

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