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Former Traders Get Schooled


Amid uncertainty, Wall Street types seek work in the classroom

Between Bank of America's (BAC) acquistion of Merrill Lynch (MER), the collapse of Lehman Brothers, JPMorgan's (JPM) wholesale devouring of Bear Stearns, and the turbulence faced by the industry as a whole, a lot of Wall Street executives are going back to school.

As teachers.

Executive recruiter Challenger, Gray & Christmas says the industry has already cut nearly 103,000 jobs this year and, by the end of 2008, layoffs could eclipse last year's record of 153,105 jobs lost.

New York City runs something called the Teaching Fellows program, which trains people from other industries to work in the public schools. The New York Times reported that the program saw the percentage of applicants listing "finance" as their current job rise to 10%, up from 6% last year. Teach for America, which recruits teachers directly from top universities, saw the percentage of trainees who listed business as their major grow, as well.

Tristan Rudgard, who spent 20 years in finance in London and New York City, told USA Today that he "started to think about what [his] options were... I'm 42 years old and I asked myself, 'Can I really take another boom and bust?'"

Rudgard trained last summer as a Teaching Fellow and, according to the article, noticed "at least a half-dozen" Wall Street acquaintances training with him.

It's happening, people. Former "Masters of the Universe" are going from economic models to models-and-bottles - and back again.

Tim Daly, of the New Teacher Project, which recruits teachers nationwide, said, "These big moments -- and I think Sept. 11 was the last big moment -- cause people to look for work that has meaning to them."

A survey from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation shows that 42% of college-educated 24- to 60-year-olds would consider teaching as a career. Good news, because retirements, turnover and enrollment growth mean that schools will find themselves extremely shorthanded in the years to come. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago estimates it will be necessary to bring on somewhere between 2.9 and 5.1 million new teachers between now and 2020.

The migration from trading floors to classrooms isn't only occurring Stateside: England's Training and Development Agency for Schools reports a 34% increase in traffic on their recruitment website and a 13% increase in inquiries about teaching, which they attribute to the turbulent markets.

The agency is visiting London's financial districts to encourage worried bankers to become teachers.

For those recently unemployed and waiting for their teaching applications to be processed, take down this address: 680 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60611

It's the headquarters of Playboy Enterprises (PLA), and if you've recently worked for -- or are lucky enough to still work for -- a financial institution, casting is currently being conducted for an upcoming "Women of Wall Street" issue.

It should prove to be at least as titillating as July's "The Girls of the Olive Garden," 2004's "The Women of Home Depot," or 2002's "The Women of Enron" issues.

Just submit a headshot, a full-body shot and a legible photocopy of a government-issued photo ID proving you're 18 or older.

Compensation will depend on how many applications the magazine receives.

Hurry. The deadline is October 24th.
No position in stocks mentioned.
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