Johanna Irnich
MSc Finance
Undergraduate Education:

Goethe University Frankfurt

Job after Imperial College Business School:

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Corporate Banking and DCM internship

MSc Finance 2018

About you

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

Before the beginning of the programme I did several internships within the financial industry. It included audit at a big four company, the German stock exchange, and an internship at HSBC in equity capital markets. It helped me to get insight into several areas of the financial industry and to define my goals of working in corporate finance.

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

Firstly, because of its location in London. As I did my undergrad in Frankfurt, I wanted to strengthen my international network in Europe. London is the place to be if you want to have a successful career in Finance. Therefore, it is the optimal study location as you can attend the networking events of all the major banks and network with people from the finance industry.

Secondly, Imperial’s MSc Finance is ranked as one of the global top 10 in Financial Times master’s in finance and has a proven track record in securing students the best jobs in the finance industry. It has always been my goal to study at one of the best universities in the world which has an excellent worldwide reputation.


What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?

What I found most rewarding is the people I met during my time at Imperial. Every individual has their own unique story to tell and everyone was very kind and helpful. Especially in the first term, we helped each other a lot with information about applications and interview preparations. Before I joined Imperial, I did not expect this kind of openness and helpfulness.

In addition, I enjoyed the wide range of modules in finance. It has the perfect mix of quantitative modules like Maths for Finance or Econometrics and practical modules like M&A and Private Equity & Venture Capital. Furthermore, it offers plenty of networking opportunities as many lectures are accompanied by guest lecturers and speakers from the financial industry.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

My favourite module was the international elective in Dubai, which made us experience a totally different culture and monetary and fiscal policy in an emerging market like the UAE. For me, the module offered the perfect combination of lecture, cultural, and social events, company visits and time to explore Dubai on our own. My personal highlights were the desert safari, the guest speakers and the visit of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. The trip gave me a different perception of the Middle East. Furthermore, during the social events I made new connections and friendships with students from the other Finance programmes. All in all, I can say that the trip was my personal highlight of my year at Imperial.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

The most challenging part was the time managing especially in the first term. We had to juggle studying, applying for jobs, and participating in networking events at the same time. However, we were all in the same situation and we helped each other a lot. This made the stressful time still enjoyable.


How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

My cohort was very diverse as we all came from different academic backgrounds, countries, and have different career goals. But we have one thing in common, that we are all driven and ambitious. This driven environment also helped me to define my career goals more clearly as I could benefit from the experiences that other people shared with me.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

My favourite lecturer was Sebastien Canderle, who taught the Private Equity and Venture Capital elective. The module had a theoretical part which involved traditional lectures and a practical part where we had to solve case studies. My personal highlights were the senior guest speakers from companies like The Carlyle Group, Investec, Silicon Valley Bank and Accel Partners. This helped me to get a deeper understanding of the industry. On top of that it was very interesting to listen to his personal experiences that he shared with us.

Imperial places a large emphasis on group work; what did you like the most about working in this type of environment?

What I liked most about group work at Imperial was that we all came from a diverse range of subject backgrounds including finance, science, mathematics, economics and engineering. This encouraged deep discussions about the topics that we had to work on. Despite our cultural and academic differences, everyone was very open and we helped each other a lot even with non-coursework related topics, like job search. I believe that we had a much better outcome as if we would have done individual coursework.


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

One of the greatest opportunities was to attend the 20th MSc Finance anniversary event where I had the great honour to hear Mark Carney speak, the Governor of the Bank of England, at the London Stock Exchange.

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

Imperial offers a lot of great workshops and events. One of the workshops that I found very helpful was an interview preparation organized by the Imperial Finance Club. They brought in a guest speaker from Morgan Stanley and he shared with us his experience of the application and interview process. As we were just 20 participants, the conversation was very interactive, and we were able to ask him individual questions. I would say, it was his interview advice that helped me secure my job offers.

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

I was the Academic Leader for the MSc Finance Student Staff Committee, which I found very rewarding. The role included that I represent my class especially in academic related matters within the college. What I liked most about this job was that I had the chance get a look behind the scenes of the business school. Furthermore, I met many people across different programmes that I probably would not have met if I would not have had that role.

How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?

During my role as an Academic Leader I got in touch with various people from non-finance related programmes, like Management, International Health Management and Innovation & Entrepreneurship. This broadened my horizon and provided me with many outside the box ideas and approaches.


How did the services from Careers help you secure employment and help in your professional development?

Careers was very helpful during my time at Imperial. Especially in the first term, I worked with them very frequently as they offered advice for each stage of the application process. They provided plenty of networking opportunities. They offered to optimise my cover letter and CV, which is especially helpful for non-native speakers. I also had the opportunity to participate in some mock interviews before my actual interviews, which gave me a good routine. I would strongly advise students to start applying even before the programme starts and to use the services that Careers Team offers.

London location

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

It definitely helps to study in a financial hub like London as networking is essential to secure a job in that highly competitive industry. Throughout the year I had the chance to not only attend Imperial networking events but also to participate in case studies or networking events in Canary Wharf. This was very beneficial as I expanded my network also outside of the Business School.

Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?

I lived in Chelsea during my time at Imperial. I chose to live there because I could walk to Imperial College every day, which saved me money for public transport. Furthermore, it is very nice area with lots of nice restaurants and bars.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time in London? Have you had opportunities to travel?

London is an amazing city to live in. Its beauty lies especially in its diversity. People from all over the world come together in this financial and cultural hub. During my spare time, I enjoyed going out with my classmates or exploring the city and its museums and cultural hotspots. I feel like even after one year of living there, I still have so much more to explore.

If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?

London’s housing market is very fast paced, so you can find a flat within a few days/weeks. However, I would advise incoming master’s students to arrive a few weeks before the programme starts to get familiar with the new area. I would also recommend living in walking distance to Imperial or buying a bike as public transport can be very time-consuming.


Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions? 

I did not have the chance to participate in any of these events as I was working for the German development cooperation in the Philippines before the start of the programme and the time difference and my working schedule did not allow me to participate. However, as a current student, I participated in this year’s event for newly admitted students and shared my experience as an Academic Leader. I found it very useful for incoming students as leadership opportunities at imperial are presented and you get the chance to meet current students, alumni, and future classmates. I would definitely recommend participating in these events.

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

I would recommend applying as early as possible as it increases your chances of getting accepted and receiving a scholarship from Imperial. Furthermore, I would recommend getting in touch with alumni and current students to ask them all the questions you might have.

MSc Finance
Undergraduate Education:

Goethe University Frankfurt

Job after Imperial College Business School:

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Corporate Banking and DCM internship