Bear Stearns Crash Leaves Students in Employment Crunch

By: Alicia Outing
Columbia Spectator

May 5, 2008

Erica Mole had just landed in her spring break destination when she received shocking news from her mother over the phone.

The Columbia College senior, who had interned the previous summer with Bear Stearns, found that the full-time position the company had offered her in its Global Equities Division was in jeopardy. Like many other Columbia students who had planned to assume positions at the banking and trading giant, Mole faced the prospect of unemployment after the company’s mid-March collapse.

“I was actually on ... break and called my mother to let her know that I had arrived and was OK,” Mole explained, “and the first thing she said when she heard my voice was, ‘Have you heard the news?’”

Bear Stearns sunk when it was announced that JP Morgan would acquire Bear Stearns for a surprisingly small amount of about $2 per share. Some students expecting to work at Bear Stearns believed that their jobs would be secure, only to have their offers officially revoked in April.

“It all unfolded within a month,” Mole said. “We were then told that the offers were basically rescinded.”

Other students found themselves in a similar predicament.

Peter Law, who also worked at Bear Stearns over the summer and had a job lined up for after graduation, said that he spent the month of April “scrambling” to find another place to work.

“The whole experience has been pretty hellacious,” he said. “Imagine going from thinking you are starting your career with a solid, successful firm to being unemployed and inexperienced in about a space of two weeks.”

Kristen Loveland, SEAS ’10, said that she was hired to Operations for Bear Stearns about two days before the market crash. Luckily for her, she was then hired by JP Morgan for the summer. Loveland said that JP Morgan investment firm has taken on a number of Bear Stearns summer interns.

With graduation just around the corner, Mole and Law both have garnered posts at hedge funds.

“Bear was great about circulating our résumés to their clients,” Mole said. “Within two weeks of hearing from HR that we were not going to working at Bear, I had some offers.”

Mole said that things turned out to be not as bad as she had expected. As her fellow former interns and superiors at Bear Stearns disperse, she says that her network of contacts has expanded dramatically. “I think you really have to try and find the silver lining in all of this,” she said, adding that she has already “moved on.”