MSc Chemistry, Imperial College London
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
Before I started at Imperial College Business School, I did a summer internship at UBS and another internship at a brokerage firm in Singapore during my undergraduate degree. My previous experience gave me unique insights into different areas of the financial industry. This allowed me to understand what skills and attributes were needed to work in an investment bank. My biggest takeaway was that it helped me realise what areas I would like to pursue in a career in finance, but it also cemented that I still wanted to find a way of combining my interest in chemistry with finance in my future career prospects.
Why did you decide to study an MSc Finance at Imperial College Business School?
I decided to study this programme because I knew it would provide me with the financial knowledge necessary to make the switch from the STEM industry to finance. Coming from a science background, I knew that the one gap in my skill set would be the lack of understanding in the area of financial concepts such as corporate finance and valuation and financial accounting analysis. Developing the framework and technical knowledge was essential to advance my future goals. The emphasis on quantitative methods and programming was a very attractive part of the programme, as it would allow me to further develop my technical abilities gained during my undergraduate study and apply it effectively within a financial context. I also completed my undergraduate study at Imperial and I wanted to ensure continuity in my education.
Did you receive a scholarship?
I received the Imperial College Scholarship as a result of my strong undergraduate degree results at Imperial.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
Taking the credit risk elective in the summer was probably my favourite module, this was also the most challenging and technical. The module mixes concepts learned in corporate finance and derivative options pricing, to look at company risk. There are a range of subjects covered throughout the module, which I found helpful as we spent more time looking at them in detail, compared to other programmes that only brush over some subjects. This module also gave me more quantitative insights into assessing credit risk and the credit derivatives market in general, which in my opinion is a very creative and unique industry.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
The most challenging part of the programme was the first term. This was because I came from a background in chemistry and concepts raised in classes such as accounting or corporate finance did not come as second nature to me. There were some days I wished I was back in the lab, but the guidance from the lecturers definitely helped me understand each module. I found juggling the workload managing job applications, interviews and subjects challenging, as subjects require more time as they are well developed and make you think more deeply into the topics covered. I also thought the programme content is very detailed - it’s a good mix of practical application and academic research.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
The cohort for this programme is made up of a very diverse range of people, with different skill sets and backgrounds, but we all had one thing in common – the drive to pursue a career in finance. The diversity at the Business School creates a rich learning environment, where you are given the opportunity to learn new insights while engaging with the content of each module.
How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?
Studying at the Business School has allowed me to keep up my interest within the renewable energy space, as I have been able to keep up with researchers in the chemistry department and attend talks hosted by the Energy Futures lab. In general, I was able to focus and learn more about other areas besides finance which is a nice contrast to other modules within the programme.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
I always intended on taking a gap year after my studies so the biggest thing I wanted to figure out was what type of jobs I would want to apply for afterwards. Coming from a STEM background, the MSc Finance programme has helped me narrow down my career goals and be more specific in what I want to do. To help me plan my future career path, I drew a large map of every possible job available in a bank and based on the modules I did or didn’t enjoy, I was able to narrow down what I wanted to do. Undertaking the wide range of modules at Imperial College Business School has made me realise I’m more inclined to head in the fixed income and credit direction. Being able to tailor my degree and choose my own electives has also been a great tool in helping narrow down my interests.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
Yes, the central location is beneficial as most of the investment banks are in Canary Wharf and Central London. Living in London makes the logistics of travelling to them for interviews or networking events much easier.
When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?
I spend most of my time eating my way through London, as there are so many food options. Occasionally, I enjoy running around Hyde Park when the weather is good (plus, it’s close to Imperial). I also enjoy watching live music and the Royal Albert Hall is just behind the Business School – I would finish studying in the library at 18.00 and walk across the road to attend a concert.
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions?
Having undertaken my Undergraduate study at Imperial, I feel my application process was slightly different to those who were applying to study their first programme at the Business School.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
Have a clear, personal and specific idea as to why you want to pursue a career in finance, so you can stand out during the application process. Also, be prepared to work. The programme at Imperial is rigorous and intense at times, especially when you’re trying to juggle school work, job applications and your social life. Make sure to reach out to your cohort if you feel overwhelmed, chances are that you aren’t the only one feeling this way. Oh, and remember to breathe.