Matt Stephenson saw the handwriting on the wall.
Working for the giant financial firm Goldman Sachs Group, in credit derivatives and mortgage-backed securities, he sensed that the market was going to experience an upset.
So in 2007, a year before the financial collapse on Wall Street, he got out.
“I cut it a little close,” recalls Stephenson, 35, who later founded the Austin nonprofit, Code2College, which teaches computer programming to high school kids. “I usually give two reasons: I left for a Ph.D. program, and, yes, I saw what was coming.”
Next, the New York University business school graduate spent a year studying economics at the University of Miami.
“That was not for me,” Stephenson says. “I have a passion for economics, but not enough for a Ph.D.”
Then while teaching SAT prep courses online back in his native New York, he heard about an open position at Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, which ran a sales and trading internship program for students of color to place them at investment banks.
“I instantly fell in love with the work,” he says. “The students that I was working with came from Harvard and Yale, but also from Kennesaw State University, which I had never heard of. We were placing them in front-office roles. And they were getting full-time offers. But these were top 10 percent students and already in college. There were others who didn’t have the opportunity to join our program or weren’t even making it to college.”
In retrospect, however, Sponsors for Educational Opportunity proved to be another seemingly inevitable step on the road to Austin and his current, quickly expanding project, Code2College.
News on Open Source is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of 512tech.com comes with an American-Statesman digital subscription, which also includes myStatesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe at statesman.com/subscribe.