Posted by: Louis Lavelle on November 3, 2011
The University of Pennsylvania business students that taunted Occupy Wall Street protestors in Philadelphia last month may have to explain their behavior when it comes time to interview for jobs.
OWS protesters descended on Wharton October 21. Their picket signs were met with some of the Ivy League students chanting “Get a job! Get a job!”
The students’ jeers were broadcast in a number of YouTube videos, including one with the title “99 Percent Mocked by Wharton Business Students.” One student stood on a balcony above the protesters holding a sign that read “Get in our bracket,” as seen in a photo from the campus paper The Daily Pennsylvanian. (Click through the gallery of photos from the protest to find it.)
Wharton is highly prized for its finance programs. Sixty-one percent of the school’s undergraduates and 50 percent of MBAs entered the finance and accounting industries in 2010. The school routinely sends new recruits to Citigroup, investment management firm BlackRock and bond fund manager PIMCO.
As the Occupy Wall Street movement has gained momentum, a number of top finance executives have expressed compassion for the protestors — namely, the CEOs of Citigroup, BlackRock and PIMCO.
"The protesting is a statement (that) the future is very clouded for a lot of people," said BlackRock CEO Laurence Fink. "These are not lazy people sitting around looking for something to do. We have people losing hope and they're going into the street, whether it's justified or not."
Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit said, "their sentiments are completely understandable. Trust has been broken between financial institutions and the citizens of the U.S., and that is Wall Street's job, to reach out to Main Street and rebuild that trust."
PIMCO CEO Mohamed El-Erian wrote in a blog on the Huffington Post, "This is more than just a nascent movement that will grow in the weeks and months ahead. It is part of a worldwide drive for greater social justice."
It's worth noting that Citigroup was the second-top hirer of Wharton undergrads and seventh-top hirer of MBAs in 2010, taking a total of 29 students. BlackRock and PIMCO each hired three or more Wharton MBA grads in the 2010-11 school year, and BlackRock hired five Wharton undergrads in 2009.
As on-campus job recruiting continues this winter, some of the taunting Wharton students may end up in interviews with financial companies that are consciously trying to project an image of empathy with the protesters, and those YouTube videos may need some explaining.
Did the Wharton students act appropriately? Will their behavior influence recruiters? How do you explain "Get a job!" when you're trying to, well, get a job? Leave your thoughts for us below.