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Columbia’s Newest MBAs: All Dressed Up With No Place to Go?

Columbia MBAs

From left, Gretchen Skedsvold; Jenna Trabulus; Venk Varadan; Howard “Tripp” Blum III. Photo: Elizabeth Wolff

The credit crisis continues, the country might be in a recession, Wall Streeters are facing layoffs — and tomorrow, a new class of freshly minted MBAs graduates from Columbia. We visited Morningside Heights to check on their postgraduation plans.

Gretchen Skedsvold
Age: 27
Concentration: Real estate
Job plans: Equity researcher, Morgan Stanley
It must be hard to get a job in real-estate investing now.
I got my offer after an internship last year. And because I had experience in the Latin American market — and that market is still going strong — it was easier for me than for others in my real-estate class.
Was your family worried?
My mom called a couple of times to ask if my job was secure.
What advice do your professors give?
We keep hearing that the next big thing is distressed real estate.

Jenna Trabulus
Age: 29
Concentration: Management and social enterprise
Job plans: No offers
What do you want to do?
I’m looking for a job in an innovative company that’s doing some good in the world.
Are you worried that people aren’t hiring?
I get up every morning and check our online job postings, figure out my target company list, reach out to alumni at those companies, speak to contacts for informational purposes. It’s a full-time job getting a job, but it’s not like I’m getting married for the rest of my life.

Venk Varadan
Age: 26
Concentrations: Finance and media entertainment
Job plans: Investment banker, UBS
Tell me about the application process.
It was brutal. I spent August to December in constant interviews. I didn’t lock up a job until December. I actually got a call the day before the last day of classes from the HR woman asking if I had a job yet. It was the best way to start the holiday break.
What’s the atmosphere on campus like?
We started when the market was awesome, and we’re graduating when the market sucks.

Howard “Tripp” Blum III
Age: 27
Concentration: Value investment
Job plans: No offers
How are prospects?
I’m interviewing. I just had my third interview at a company. I’m waiting to hear from them. Business school is like a two-year recruiting process.
What are you looking for?
A job in investment research or buy-side research, which means hedge funds, mutual funds.
Is it a hard job market?
Good funds know this is the time to buy.
What did you do after your last exam?
I went to see Iron Man. I’d been waiting for it for a year.

— Elizabeth Wolff

Columbia’s Newest MBAs: All Dressed Up With No Place to Go?