Public service is cool again
Peace Corps and others see ’60s-style interest from recent grads.
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These economic and social currents are changing the directions students take.Skip to next paragraph
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After graduating in May, Christian Seale of Brown University in Providence, R.I., had hoped to return to investment bank Goldman Sachs, where he’d interned for two summers, and then attend the Harvard Business School, where he’d already been accepted. But those plans began to change last fall when a dean sent along a note with information about applying for a Fulbright grant to teach English abroad. Then job prospects dwindled with the debacle in the financial industry. “When the financial crisis hit, it kind of solidified my decision for me,” the Spencer, Mass., native says.
Mr. Seale, who speaks Spanish but has never been to Latin America, will spend a year in Barranquilla, Colombia, teaching university students. Then, it’s off to the Harvard Business School, unless he can launch his real dream: a gym for urban youth without access to exercise facilities. “That’s my passion, fitness,” he says.
Kathy Choi, a graduate of Duke Uni-versity in Durham, N.C., had looked into working in business after graduation, until canceled interviews and nixed company campus visits made her reassess. Now, she’s working as a public school administrator.
Even a job offer isn’t stopping some graduates’ move to service. Daniel Carroll of Harvard deferred an offer from the Boston Consulting Group in San Francisco. Instead, the human biology and computer science graduate will be in Denver, teaching physical science for at least two years to eighth graders, under the Teach for America program. “I wasn’t really quite sure what end I wanted to put [my] skills to,” he says. He’s found one already for his new students: “I can make savvy PowerPoints.”