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Some students are having doubts about crypto careers

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried told Axios earlier this week that he has $100,000 left in his bank account. At one point, his personal wealth was estimated at $26.5 billion. But still, many FTX users would love to have $100,000 in their accounts right now.

The fallout from the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange continues to spill over into the larger economy. This is now reverberating across college campuses, where the next generation of tech and financial talent is deciding whether crypto is an industry they really want to work in.

Crypto companies salivate over students like Akshay Choudhry, a senior at Columbia University majoring in applied mathematics and minoring in computer science.

So if a crypto exchange tried to hire him with a boatload of money, “I honestly probably would have been more receptive to that before the last three or four weeks,” he said.

Of course, crypto companies aren’t really in hiring mode right now; even solvent exchanges like Coinbase have laid off workers.

But even if they were, Choudhry said the overnight implosion of FTX made the industry look far too volatile.

“From the perspective of putting your career eggs in that basket, I don’t think it’s something I would want to do,” he said.

During crypto boom times, the best and the brightest at elite universities are — more shockingly — more interested in crypto. Crypto classes at engineering and business schools are now quite common.

John Villasenor noticed a particular correlation among his University of California, Los Angeles, computer science students.

“I’ve found in the last seven or eight years that interest in the crypto space, in general, tends to track the price of bitcoin,” he said.

This brutally cold crypto winter will likely cool that interest. But Villasenor said that won’t deter a particular type of student: those more interested in the underlying technology.

“There’s always been a subset, a smaller subset of people, who are very interested in blockchain,” he said. “Blockchain is much more than crypto.”

Campbell Harvey at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business expects smaller attendance at the Innovation and Cryptoventures class he’s teaching this spring.

But as a decentralized finance enthusiast, Harvey said the FTX debacle could actually make his MBA students even more marketable.

“They’re much more professional in terms of business practices, and in this space it’s really lacking people with traditional business experience,” he said.

You know, traditional business experience like creating a decent balance sheet, or at least a balance sheet that doesn’t go viral on Twitter.

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