An article May 30 incorrectly reported that annual tuition for a master's degree of business administration at New York University is about $1,100. It is about $11,000. CAPTION: Photo 1, MICHAEL MIROLLA, "I want to succeed. Every opportunity that's out there, I want a shot at it. We [MBAs] do want to become general managers . . ., presidents, CEOs . . ."; Photo 2, MARK HOPLAMAZIAN, "At first cut, you think of education, shelter and food. . . . I'd like to be in a position eventually where I can make a difference."; Photo 3, JULIE GILLETTE, ". . . With the baby boom . . . ahead of us, it seems as though it's tougher to get jobs, that there's a glut in all the professions. . . ."; Photo 4, MARGARET WATERS, "I think we're probably the first generation . . . that can't do as well as our parents."; Photo 5, Today's college-educated young people are increasingly attracted to business as a profession. The American Council on Education, which polls incoming college students, found that 11 percent in 1967 planned business careers. Last year, the figure was 27 percent. About 70,000 MBA-holders graduate every year., WALL STREET PHOTO -- THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
At 25, Harry Neuhaus has learned to play the game.
Hair: neatly trimmed. Attire: white buttondown shirt, charcoal gray suit and dark green silk tie. Degrees: bachlor's in engineering, University of California at San Diego; master of business administration, Rutgers. Position sought: entry-level trader for large or medium-sized corporation. Salary expected: $27,000 a year.
Neuhaus can look and act the part of the ambitious young corporate clone, prospective Yuppie, MBA nerd. But for him, it is roleplaying. He reads The Wall Street Journal "occasionally . . . because I know a lot of other people read it."
And the clothes? "My dress is geared towards Wall Street, definitely, but that's what you've got to do. You've got to play their game."
Beneath the uniform are complex emotions. He despairs at not being able to find a job and resents the corporate emphasis on "credentialism": It is not whether you got your MBA but where you got it. He is awed by the big-money world of corporate finance but determined not to be sucked in by it. His career goals are uncertain, but he recognizes that one wrong move in his early 20s can close future options for a lifetime.
He is also concerned that economic security takes a lot more money to achieve than it used to. "Everyone wants to provide for their family at least what their parents provided for them, and there's that pressure to go out and make money," Neuhaus said.
In the eyes of young adults, big business has come a long way since the turbulent 1960s, when it was vilified on campuses as the handmaiden of the Vietnam war. But does its renewed stature mean that students are out only for the bottom line? Are tomorrow's executives riding the subways this morning with The Wall Street Journal tucked, unread, under one arm and "In Search of Excellence" in their briefcases?
In a week of interviews, current and prospective business students working for the summer at First Boston Corp., an investment banking firm, in Manhattan put the lie to the empty implications of that image. MBA candidates at New York University's Graduate School of Business, in the heart of Wall Street, and at Rutgers Graduate School of Management across the river in Newark, joined them in heatedly rejecting the materialistic stereotype.
"There's this perception outside that all these young people are just putting on these suits and going into jobs that are incredibly narrow and that they're just arching down this path of business," said Margaret Waters, 24, an analyst at First Boston.
Today's college-educated young people are increasingly attracted to business as a profession. The American Council on Education, which polls incoming college freshmen, found that 11 percent in 1967 intended to pursue business careers. Last year, the figure was 27 percent. The number of graduate business schools has grown from 389 graduating nearly 33,000 students in 1974, to more than 650 graduating about 70,000 MBA-holders annually.
This trend has been taken, superficially, as proof-positive that young people have grown more conservative, more interested in making money than in advancing social change. As if to underscore the point, the average starting salary for MBA graduates is about $35,000, and many are entering the high-paying field of investment banking -- managing other people's money at a commission -- while forsaking the traditional, less lucrative jobs in manufacturing and industry.
Nonetheless, said Randy Hazelton, 24, another temporary First Boston analyst, "We're not all a bunch of corporate lemmings." He and his colleagues cited social and economic pressures that account for their marching in apparent lock step. Competing for Jobs, Credentials
First, there is competition for what they perceive to be a shrinking job market. "I think in our generation you're finding that with the Baby Boom moving through ahead of us it seems as though it's tougher to get jobs, that there's a glut in all the professions -- medicine and law as well as business," said Julie Gillette, 23, at First Boston.
There is also competition for credentials that forces young people to keep a keen eye on their resumes and make difficult career choices earlier than than their older brothers and sisters -- choices that often make it necessary, they say, to defer marriage and family.
"You wait too long and you're behind the ball, you're behind the game," said Scott Smythe, a 26-year-old business student at NYU.
Paying for an advanced degree, often by incurring large debts, is an added pressure, and they feel compelled to make it pay off. At Rutgers, annual tuition is $4,800 a year for state residents, $7,000 a year for out-of-state students, NYU costs MBA candidates $1,100 a year, plus living in one of the country's most expensive housing markets. Both are two-year programs.
Overriding all is the pressure to make enough money -- not simply to pursue wanton consumerism, they said, but to maintain the comfortable standard of living with which they grew up.
"There's an interesting question [of] how hard would it be for someone in our generation to do as well or better than our parents did," Waters said during an informal discussion with the other young analysts.
"I'm one of six children. Can I, on a salary like my father's, now have six children and support them in the style and life that I live? I think the answer is no. I think there's no way, and I think we're probably the first generation, probably, that can't do as well as our parents." The Materialistic Stereotype
Mark Hoplamazian, 22, agreed. "People make a big issue of our generation being materialistic, but . . . our being keenly aware of this competition and the fact that our standard of living may not be as high and knowing you have to get a good job to enjoy the same standard of living that our parents enjoy is often interpreted as being materialistic.
"Having children is a big issue," Hoplamazian said. "I come from a family of five myself. At first cut, you think of education, shelter and food."
"Housing is probably the biggest thing," Hazelton added. "I can't even conceive of owning a home."
That sentiment was voiced by many young people from varying backgrounds. Many could be considered on the "fast track," and in their early 20s their salaries already are higher than the average income for an American family of four. They compare their earning potential not to the statistical average, however, but to the lives they knew growing up -- an expectation, they say, that is harder to realize.
"To say we're more materialistic is unfair," said Tammy Lynn Giles, 23, a San Francisco native whose mother is a sucessful economic consultant. She is working as a research assistant in Washington and is planning to attend a top business school in a year.
"People . . . are born into certain classes," said Giles. "They want to stay in those classes. For example, I can't go into a store and buy 99-cent stockings."
Some were closer in view to David Lobelson, 23, a New Jersey native graduating this month from Rutgers business school to begin a job as an auditor for Shearson-Lehman in Manhattan. He grew up in a working-class north Jersey suburb, where his mother is an office manager. As for his father, he said, "I never met the man."
"Look at the suicide rate among teenagers," he said. "I think a lot of it has to do with . . . feeling pressured in order to succeed, because they see the glamorous life, so many people around them being very successful, driving around in these big cars. I felt it when I was younger -- 'Oh my God, what if I'm not successful? What if I don't get thus?' I just don't want to be a bum walking around the street. . . .
"But they've got to learn that they just don't have to go onto Wall Street to succeed, that you can be a good person without having a high-paying job. I've met people who are very wealthy and successful who aren't happy . . . I've really said to myself if it was between money and family or love or happiness, I'll take the family and the happiness and the love and leave the money.
"The fast life really does it," he said. "That TV show, the 'Life Styles of the Rich and Famous,' . . . really upsets me because . . . here I am living in a suburb someplace and I see these people going to the Riviera for vacation and it upsets me. But that's just a small minority. You just can't measure yourself against something you may never achieve."
Equally strong among the MBA aspirants is the passion for a life and career that provide something less tangible. Call it "fulfillment," call it "sense of purpose." By whatever name, it is uppermost in these young people's minds, even as they enter the corporate world.
"I'd like to be in a position eventually where I can make a difference," Hoplamazian said.
In the desire to "have an impact on society," as one student put it, the children of the '80s sound remarkably like the children of the '60s -- with an important difference: Under President John F. Kennedy's clarion call two decades ago, public service was seen as the way to "make a difference." That place now is business.
That reversal came up again and again. Perhaps it is a legacy of the Reagan administration's anti-big government bent -- or the popularity of corporate cult figures such as Chrysler Chairman Lee A. Iacocca -- but business repeatedly was mentioned as the one sector of American life that is "exciting," "dynamic" and the place that fosters individual "creativity." These young people are entering the world of corporate finance with the same zeal that legions of youths once marched into the Peace Corps.
Almost all of them said their corporate jobs would be "stepping stones," citing strong entrepreneurial streaks and a desire to be their own bosses.
When these same young people were asked if they would consider public service or government work, the words most often used in reply were "big," "intransigent" and "stifling" -- the same words applied generations ago to business. A Place to Make an Impact
Some experts see that shift in attitude in the booming business-school enrollment. "The reason for the increase is that people who are in college or people currently working in corporations see that moving into a managerial position is extremely exciting," said David Blake, dean of the Rutgers graduate school of business. "It enables them to have an impact, to get things done.
"Corporate America, and effective managers of corporate America -- the entrepreneurs -- have kind of captured the same spirit of adventurism and impact that I think the 1960s had on young America," he said. "The Steve Jobs of the world, the corporate people who have made major changes in their companies, the Roger Smith of General Motors who has restructured a whole company, have made a dent. Iacocca -- he went against a bureaucracy and restructured a company. Use that same analogy to the 1960s."
Randy Hazelton went to college at Stanford University in California's Silicon Valley -- a geographical fact that he thinks influenced his small-business spirit.
"There's a real entrepreneurial atmosphere, whether it's starting up a software company or a lawn-care business, you can do it in a creative and fun way," he said. ". . . I can perceive business as being fun. You can do some really creative things and do them with very interesting people."
Michael Mirolla, 25, president of the Student Government Association at Rutgers Graduate School of Management, is the son of a New Jersey hairdresser. "In the middle class, you want to do better than your parents," he said. "My parents are not well off at all, and I wanted to have more than they had and I want to do better for my children than was given to me. . . . I never considered being a hairdresser."
As an undergraduate at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., he says, "I had no idea what I wanted to do." So with a general management degree, he went to work as a stockbroker.
But he was bored at the bottom of a corporation and, without a graduate degree, he knew he could never move into management.He quit to attend Rutgers full time. Like Hazelton, he says his primary concern was not the money he could make, but the opportunities he could open.
"I want to succeed. Every opportunity that's out there, I want a shot at it. We [MBAs] do want to become general managers, vice-presidents, presidents, CEOs or whatever. If you're satisfied with your eight hours, your 40 hours a week, your 9-to-5 job, then you go get your BS and be happy with that," Mirolla said.
Jim Shallcross, 25, is the son of an orthodontist whose dabbling in investments, the stock market and real estate sparked Jim's interest.
After earning an undergraduate finance degree from the University of Denver and working for 18 months as a stock trader, he was pulled eastward by "the same old lure of a glamorous career" as an investment banker. He knew he had to get an MBA to succeed on Wall Street -- "I thought I would just be punching my ticket," he said -- and enrolled at New York University.
He is unashamed to say that a "very overt goal" now is making money. But he sees himself leaving his chosen field by the age of 35, becoming a principal in some new business venture. Trade-Offs: Delaying Family Life
Shallcross will spend the summer working at Goldman Sachs, one of the best-known -- and highest-paying -- of the Manhattan investment banks. But for him, as for many other young business students interviewed, there have been trade-offs. Family, he said, is "going to be somewhat in the future.
"I hear my mother saying somewhat facetiously that she's never going to be a grandparent. I have a brother who's a couple years older and he's doing the same sort of thing, involved in his career. I don't know. I think because of the fact that it's more competitive -- or it's perceived as being more competitive -- that it takes that much longer to establish yourself in your career.
"And it may be a value statement that . . . the career takes priority."
Shallcross said his definition of happiness "would not be fulfilled by establishing a family now and then trying to work on my career. The formula for success is get established in your career first and worry about a family later. It's one before the other, definitely. It's not that it's mutually exclusive. Its just a hell of a lot harder to do it the other way."