A year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers the financial industry is still reeling from the credit crisis. Hundreds of thousands of financial jobs have been lost, and for those graduating from business school the employment outlook is bleak. Some Asian Americans and U.S.- educated Asians are considering opportunities outside the U.S. in China, India, and beyond.
A year ago, investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed and thousands of bankers lost their jobs. These workers were not alone. New York City is warning that 46,000 financial jobs and hundreds of thousands more that depend on Wall Street could be lost by 2010.
Masters of Business Administration students say that makes them nervous. Before the financial crisis, an MBA almost guaranteed a job in finance. At a recent MBA jobs fair for Asian-Americans and Asians educated in the U.S., the lines were long at potential employers' booths.
Xiang Wang is from Beijing and is due to graduate soon with an MBA from Clark University in Massachusetts. He is worried about the lack of jobs, coupled with his need for a work visa. "If we want a sponsor for our H1-B (visa) no company will accept our resume so it is very hard," he explained.
But Wall Street's loss could be Asia's gain. Exhibiting here are a number of Asian countries interested in employing Asian graduates with U.S. educations for jobs in Asia.
Joeseph Nam is from South Korea's Trade Agency. They are building a database of graduates to pass on to Korean companies hungry for U.S.-educated talent. "Less jobs on Wall Street means more people are willing to go overseas. They are willing to accept somewhat less compensation or benefits," he noted.
China, India, and other Asian countries are seeing an upsurge of highly educated returnees. Last year, the Chinese government saw a jump of 55 percent in the number of returnees. And a recent study by Duke University showed that Asians educated in the U.S. believe there is a growing demand for their skills back in their home countries.
While graduates here may be worried about their immediate job prospects, professional organizations believe that Asian Americans or U.S.-educated Asians are ideally placed for the future. Thomas Sim from the National Association of Asian American professionals says their language skills and strong growth in Asia will help them in the long term. "Probably better than average," he said. "They have got the culture they are getting the education and when you put that all together it is a win-win for them "
That may not help the graduating class of 2009 today, but as the global economy rebounds and more Asian countries seek to tap Asian talent, the attendees at this conference could be the next big recruiters -- on this or on the other side of the Pacific.