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MBA Candidates Say Bad Economy Does Not Bother Them

Jobs, jobs, jobs.

Everyone is thinking it but not necessarily talking hiring, especially Wall Street.

Young Employees
Young Employees

This paradigm was foremost in my mind on Friday as I listened to prospective MBA candidates go through simulations of the various functions within the finance industry at an event hosted by the Robert Toigo Foundation.

The event was meant to bring minority MBA candidates in direct contact with Wall Street bankers to experience typical day in their lives and allow them a peek into a banker's many job functions.

As bankers from Goldman Sachs, Citibank, JP Morgan, and later Credit Suisse, UBS, and Bank of America took the students through the art of negotiation, mergers, private equity, wealth management, and even the sales and trading desk, recruiters sat in the shadows observing, aiming to spot early talent. Almost all of them said they had actively recruited this year. Not huge numbers, but hiring had taken place.

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Toward the end of the event, I got a chance to talk to the candidates.

I asked them what was behind their decision to apply to business school despite the turbulence of last year in the finance industry.

One smart-alecky response was, “The hope is that there will be more jobs.” Another more understated attendee said, “Being in finance gives me the basic skills, and regardless of the economy, banks will always be around. Or at least that’s the promise!” As they shared what business school they were headed to this fall—with some saying they were still waiting to hear back—it was evident that the economy couldn’t be further away from their minds.

At one level this is heartening because these fearless millennials are ready to take on the challenges.

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At another level, however, and from Vault's access to the job market, it is worrying.

This generation has grown up expecting to be handed things previous generations have had to work for.

In a recent article, my colleague Phil Stott debated this expectation, wondering whether it was pure delusion, a betrayal from society by the way they've been brought up, or whether they're simply too young to know better. In his words, "Whatever your age or opinion on the Millennial generation, however, it's difficult to argue with the premise of one final—and particularly wry—observation…that the beliefs Millennials hold about their future careers at this point 'may be setting them up for intense disappointment in today's labor market.' And that, I'm sure we can agree, is a shame."

Talking to the room full of aspiring bankers, who by the way, believe that private equity is the new cool job, and investment banking is very passé, delusion wasn’t the impression I got.

I felt determination and a resolve to make their choices work for them.

Their grounded view of reality seems to be as pronounced as their ambitious expectations.

It will be now be up to corporate America to respond to their enthusiasm and ensure that their commitment to success is leveraged correctly.

As executives and recruiters, what would you say to their enthusiasm? Misguided or sorely needed? Leave us a comment here or follow us on Twitter @VaultCSR!

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Aman Singh is the Corporate Responsibility Editor at Vault.com. She is a New York University alum and previously wrote for The Wall Street Journal. Her area of work includes corporate diversity practices and sustainability, and how they translate into recruitment and strategic development at Fortune 1000 companies

Comments? Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com