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Then New Jersey has the job for you. One of the Garden State's most valuable and growing industries is financial services. Not quite sure what this means? Just think money and all the various careers that deal with it-from accountants and consultants, who help people and companies handle their finances; to insurance firms, which sell policies to companies and people; to tellers at your local bank, who cash your checks, quote rates on bank CDs and deposit your savings. New Jersey is home to some of the nation's largest financial-services firms, including Prudential Financial in Newark, Chubb in Warren, Commerce Bank in Cherry Hill and Merrill Lynch in Hopewell and Plainsboro, to name only a few. Jersey City has earned the nickname "Wall Street West" because so many Manhattan investment firms and stock market-related companies have moved operations across the Hudson River to the Jersey side.
If you're intrigued, but not sure if this dynamic industry is the right fit for you, then give it a test drive. Lots of the state's financial-services employers offer internships and job shadowing to give young people a taste of the day-to-day reality of jobs in this field. For instance, Merrill Lynch in Hopewell runs a special internship program for 50 students from Trenton Central High School and neighboring Ewing High School. One day a week during the school year, high school students leave their classrooms to visit with Merrill Lynch employees, take classes and soak up life in a big corporation. They even prepare business plans that they present to a panel of venture capitalists (translate: men and women who invest money in promising businesses).
"The Merrill Lynch - Trenton Central High School Career Academy has motivated students to seek opportunities they may not have thought of and inspired students to want to continue their education," explains Damon Clemow, a formal vice president at the Hopewell Merrill Lynch campus who helped launch the high school career academy in 2004. "One young lady was so motivated by a speaker that she contacted that speaker after her visit at Merrill Lynch and she followed through with a plan. That summer she attended Drexel University School of Design, between her junior and senior years in high school, because that is the career she wants to go into."
Financial careers require different amounts of education, depending on the job you pursue. For instance, financial analysts and planners require more advanced college degrees, while bank tellers typically demand only a high school diploma, possibly an associate's degree. To read about Shaun Clark, a Gloucester County Institute of Technology grad who took a job as a bank teller when he was 17, visit the Real People column on www.njnextstop.org.
To read more about financial services, visit www.njnextstop.org for an overview of the industry and the related jobs and skills. Click on the "Show All" feature of the Lifeline column to access on expanded version of "You Like Money?"
The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance is responsible for regulating the banking, insurance and real estate industries in New Jersey. Steven M. Goldman was sworn in a year ago as commissioner of this department. Goldman is a native of New Jersey, born and raised in Paterson and Woodcliff Lake and a proud graduate of Glen Rock High School. He currently lives in Woodcliff Lake with his wife and three children.
Goldman's career is a great example of the diversity of positions available to the financial-services professional-and the ability of someone to build a successful career in the state in which he was born and first educated. Before joining the Department of Banking and Insurance, Goldman was a senior member and 22-year veteran of Sills Cummis Epstein & Gross, a law firm based in Newark. During his time at the firm his focus was corporate law, specifically mergers and acquisitions, banking and finance and joint ventures between companies. That's right-you can become a lawyer who specializes in money-related issues! Goldman earned an undergraduate degree in political science from Boston University, a Masters of Law in taxation from New York University School of Law and a Jurist Doctorate from the George Washington University School of Law.
Despite his impressive academic track record, Goldman is most proud to be serving the state that he has long called home. "I very much appreciate the confidence Governor Corzine has expressed in me by nominating me for this position and allowing me to be a part of his team," said Commissioner Goldman when he was sworn in last March. "As a proud native of New Jersey, this appointment is a particular privilege for me."
You can access an expanded version of this article online. Click on the "Show All" feature of the Real People column to find "Steven M. Goldman."
Financial firms are not just career paths for the money-minded. Certain careers adapt well to a variety of industries. If you also happen to enjoy that industry sector, well, all the better. Katina M. Vassiliou grew up in Mountainside and graduated from Summit High School in 1998. She went on to Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., graduating in 2002 with a degree in mass communications and a minor in sociology. Hmmm...where would that lead?
As it turns out, right to a position in Ernst & Young, one of the region's largest accounting and consulting firms with specialties in audit, tax and corporate finance. Katina's career track is a lesson in contacts and determination. While in college, she met Jim Speros, at the time chief marketing executive for Ernst & Young, at a church charity event to make quilts for babies with AIDS. They kept in touch and in March of Katina's senior year, Speros offered her the opportunity to interview for an internship at E&Y.
"I started as an intern in national marketing and took a permanent position in the Business Development Operations Department in 2002," explains Katina, who spends most of her time in E&Y's New York City Times Square office, but also travels weekly to the firm's corporate headquarters in Iselin. "I embraced the situation and have made my job what I want it to be by meeting the right people, working with the right people and learning on the job." Katina is on the fast track at E&Y as an events and project specialist, responsible for developing and managing New York and New Jersey client events, including everything from E&Y's popular Entrepreneur of the Year contest, to education seminars, such as the firm's annual Domestic Tax Conference.
Katina's goal is to continue to develop and execute on various programs in the firm and to better understand E&Y's initiatives and creating events around the needs. "My advice to young people who are thinking about their lives after high school is to challenge themselves to try something new," says Katina. "You will always learn from your experience. Get through your college courses and take them for what they are. It's not until you have some more life experience that you will understand the true lessons learned."
Talk about a completely different kind of financial education. Catherine Hartmann and Bessie Young, both 17 and seniors at Voorhees High School in Hunterdon County, took a trip to Panera Bread Co. one afternoon in the spring of 2006. After lunch they headed to the parking lot, where they noticed a puddle of liquid collecting under Bessie's Dodge Spirit. "At first we thought it was transmission fluid, but it wasn't red. We knew it wasn't anti-freeze because it wasn't orange," explains Catherine. "It turned out to be oil."
No, these ladies aren't mechanics-in-training...they're incredibly informed consumers. Catherine and Bessie, along with three other team members from Voorhees High and their advisor, Debra Hunt, are the 2006 champions of the State Consumer Bowl, a quiz-show-style competition put on each year by the state Division of Consumer Affairs. The students worked their way through the contest ranks, ultimately beating teams from Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin and North Warren Regional High. Statewide, 75 teams participated in this year's competition, which tested students' knowledge on everything from identity theft and telemarketing laws to, well, the color of the fluids in your car.
Why should you care about this stuff? Because teenagers love to spend money, both online and offline. The best way to stay safe when you're buying something is to stay informed. As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. The Voorhees Consumer Bowl champs, each of whom won a $100 savings bond and a first-place medallion, are prepared for whatever comes their way. "We learned about skimming, which is when a thief takes your credit card and copies the strip on it so they can use it," says Bessie. "So now that I'm driving, I use my Sunoco credit card at the gas station, rather than a regular credit card. Always be very cautious."
Read more about the State Consumer Bowl at www.njnextstop.org. Click on the "Show All" feature in the Lifeline column to access an expanded version of "Consumer Confidence."