Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wall Street Jobless Try B-School, Mix Purple Hooters

By Matt Jarzemsky

Oct. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Bryan Gunderson tried to master the intricacies of structured-equity investments until he lost his job at JPMorgan Chase & Co. Now he's learning the subtleties of Purple Hooters.

After collecting his last severance check in August and getting no offers from more than 100 resumes he sent to friends, companies and employment agencies, the 25-year-old graduate of Loyola College in Baltimore decided to go to B-school -- for bartending.
``It's come to the point where, yes, I need another job,'' said Gunderson, who has a bachelor's degree in finance and is looking for bartending work. ``I always frequent bars, so why not be on the other side?'' he said in an interview at New York Bartending School in Manhattan.

Gunderson lost his job amid a credit crisis that threatens to leave 165,000 people unemployed in New York City in the next 24 months, including 35,000 in the financial industry, according to the city's comptroller.

A growing number of out-of-work New Yorkers are turning to bartending, according to school directors. Enrollment in the American Bartending School in Manhattan climbed 53 percent from last October to 84 pupils, the most for the month in five years, director Joe Bruno said in an interview.
``This will be a huge year for us,'' Bruno said. ``Generally, when the economy is bad we do well because people need supplementary or primary income.''

Enrollment Gains

Gunderson recently graduated from the New York Bartending School, which has had an 18 percent jump in enrollment, said Tom Sisson, school director. The credit crisis and layoffs are driving the growth, said Sisson, who declined to say how many students he has.

``The increase I'm talking about, it's definitely that corporate, Wall Street, finance kind of thing,'' Sisson said.
The number of people working in food and beverage services in the largest U.S. city climbed 3.6 percent in September from last year to 201,800, according to state Labor Department data. Employment in securities, commodities and other financial businesses fell 7 percent to 174,700.
``A lot of people that are looking for careers in other industries seek employment in our industry,'' said Chuck Hunt, executive vice president of the New York State Restaurant Association
The 40-hour course offered at New York Bartending School costs $695 and typically draws ``physicians, attorneys, people in the corporate world, people who've suffered a job loss, people who are burned out and are having the so-called mid-life crisis,'' Sisson said.

Purple Hooters

At the final exam, students must pass a written test and mix 20 drinks in six minutes. An instructor picks the speed-test cocktails from a list of 200 that includes the Purple Hooter, made with vodka and raspberry liqueur, and the Red Devil, which contains Southern Comfort, sloe gin, amaretto, orange juice, vodka, triple sec and lime juice.
Billy Achitsaikhan, 27, says he didn't worry about finding work again when he left New York to trek through Central America in 2006. The graduate of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, said he had joined Morgan Stanley after internships at Bear Stearns Cos. and Smith Barney Holdings Inc.

``Two years ago, there were days when I would go to Wall Street and meet up with two different headhunters and they would literally offer me more than 10 jobs apiece,'' Achitsaikhan said in an interview.

Since he returned to Wall Street last month and posted his resume, ``no one has called me,'' he said. Achitsaikhan graduated from the American Bartending School on Oct. 17 and said he plans to look for bartending work.

Not Recession-Proof

The median annual income, including reported tips, for a full-time bartender in New York City was $30,540 as of May, while the median for all jobs was $42,600, the state Labor Department said. Securities, commodities and financial services sales agents' median income was $111,160. Gunderson and Achitsaikhan declined to say how much they earned in their previous positions.

Tending bar isn't recession-proof, said James Brown, a state Labor Department analyst.

Restaurants are facing the toughest environment since the 2001 terrorist attacks because of the slumping economy, record rents and an increase in food prices, Hunt said. Eateries may be more likely to hire an experienced bartender who is out of work because a restaurant closed than someone fresh out of training, he said.
``Eating establishments and drinking places tend to lose employment during downturns,'' Brown said. ``People spend less, tourism drops, expense accounts get cut.''

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