Alina Dragancea, MSc Finance 2019-20 student at Imperial College Business School
MSc Finance

BEng Civil Engineering, University of Bristol

About you

What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?

Prior to joining Imperial, I had done an internship at WSP after my second year of university in their Structural Engineering team. The summer before commencing at Imperial I did an internship at Barclays Investment Bank, in their Real Estate team, where I also secured a full-time offer to return.

Why did you decide to study an MSc Finance at Imperial College Business School?

I wanted to feel confident in my understanding of finance prior to starting my career, hence I decided that a Master’s at one of the top leading business schools would be the perfect choice for me. I wanted a more holistic understanding of the industry and theory behind what I will be doing for a career. I wanted to be able to explore more branches of finance and how they all work together. I knew Imperial provided a very analytical and practical programme with plenty of interesting electives where I could tailor the degree to my specific interests.

Did you receive a scholarship?

I was lucky enough to receive the Future Leaders Scholarship. The scholarship provided both the financial means for me to be able to pursue the Master’s in the first place and also provided a platform of other successful leaders and scholars to network with. It is also rewarding when interviewing to have secured this scholarship, it may put you at an advantage compared to other applicants.


What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?

It’s a very demanding programmeand it certainly pushes me outside of my comfort zone. I have learned a lot in a very short time span, while continuing to expand my network and knowledge of the industry. I particularly enjoyed studying alongside so many determined and motivated individuals, the environment made me work harder and set higher goals, as well as improve my time management skills which are vital for a career in finance.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

I have really enjoyed the Corporate Finance module because of the coursework aspect where we were able to understand the key factors affecting the cost of capital of companies, understand capital structure decisions and understand company valuations better through real-life examples.

I have also really enjoyed the Private Equity and Venture Capital elective where we learned how to apply the key principles of private equity and LBO modelling, as well as understand the different stakeholders involved and how to create value for everyone. I’m also really looking forward to my Real Estate Acquisitions elective in the summer term.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

The programme is very challenging. Keeping up with all your lectures, weekly coursework as well as applications and networking is a lot to balance. Furthermore, since my background isn’t in economics, finance, business or mathematics, it took me longer to grasp some of the concepts than other students in the cohort. The key was really to persevere, manage expectations and focus on the priorities I have set myself from the very beginning which is to become more knowledgeable.


How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

Very diverse people from various backgrounds. They are motivated, determined to do well and are pursuing different career paths. It is truly a humbling experience, realising some of their achievements and analytical skillset.


What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?

Studying here can certainly open doors if you know where and how to look for opportunities. I would say the ability to contact and access the vast network of alumni both at the Business School and College is priceless. Furthermore, the electives here offered exactly what I needed for where I see my career going forward.

Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?

I have really enjoyed the workshop in Financial Valuation Modelling run by visiting Professor Marc Kitten where we learned how to build a Business Plan, looked at an IPO Case Study, did a full LBO Analysis followed by a couple of case studies. Furthermore, the Private Equity and Venture Capital industry guest speaker weekly series provided insightful information into the careers of successful alternative investment firms such as Coller Capital, Investec, ICG, Ares Management.

What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial? Do you hold a student leadership position?

As an MSc Finance Student Ambassador, I am able to share my experience and help others in choosing whether or not to pursue this Master’s. As the SSC Careers Leader, I liaise between the Careers team and my cohort, where I help raise any concerns and suggestions for improvement, promoted events and activities and support the career aspirations of my cohort. I work closely with Career leaders across different programmes to seek networking and career opportunities.

I also volunteer with the What The Tech?! team weekly in the Edwards Wood Community Centre, where we provide elderly members of the community with any tech advice they need. Above all it’s a great opportunity to have nice conversations over cake with very interesting people.

Have you had opportunities to work/socialise with students across programmes within the Business School?

There are plenty of events organised within the Business School, including the amazing welcome event at the Natural History Museum and the Christmas Social organised by our Social SSC Leader.


What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?

From my internship with Barclays, I confirmed my interest in Real Estate. Hence throughout my entire Master’s I have tried to tailor it to this career path specifically through electives like Advanced Company Valuation and Real Estate Acquisitions. I have also learned a lot about the asset class by networking with Real Estate Investors working in a variety of firms, from banks to private equity firms.

London Location

Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?

Studying in London certainly is helpful. With such a busy schedule, I couldn’t afford to travel to a different city for a networking event or an interview. You might sometimes have a couple of interviews a week and having them in close proximity to our campus is very useful. You could perhaps go to an interview in the morning, a coffee chat with an employer afterwards, then make it in time for your afternoon class. You won’t get that at any other university outside of London.

What have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?

I had to move to London this summer for my internship. It was one of the most exciting experiences of my life and I have enjoyed every single aspect of it. London is very hectic and dynamic, so it takes some time to get used to the rhythm but otherwise it’s thrilling knowing there’s always something going on. In terms of advice, I know it’s daunting moving to such a big city where you perhaps won’t have that many friends to start with. Just embrace the change, explore the city and the people living here and try to make as many memories as you can, outside of your studies and job applications.


What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?

Explore all the different programmes offered, understand the various core modules and electives and weigh out which programme will be the most useful for your chosen career path. Come prepared knowing that the programme is challenging and very analytical. Have an idea in terms of what you want to achieve academically and career-wise and make full use of the resources provided here.

MSc Finance

BEng Civil Engineering, University of Bristol