Aygen Öztürk

Aygen Öztürk

Academic and industry experience before Imperial

I had not worked before beginning my programme at Imperial College Business School but I had several summer internships in banking and consulting in Istanbul during my undergraduate studies. These helped me grow an interest in finance and as a result, I decided to study finance at postgraduate level.

What are you greatest academic, professional or personal awards/achievements to date?

I can say that my most important achievement has been graduating as the top student at my school in my undergraduate university. Apart from that, I believe I have led a versatile life with diverse interests and experiences, which I see as an important personal achievement.

Studying MSc Finance

Why did you decide to study your programme and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?

MSc Finance was the perfect opportunity for me to complement my undergraduate education in economics with a minor in maths. Since I had no special interest in any sub-field of finance, I chose MSc Finance programme to be able to consider all areas and lead my future career accordingly.

What makes the MSc Finance at Imperial College Business School unique?

I believe combining theory and practice is what makes this programme unique. Core modules made me develop a high understanding of the theory of finance and through assignments that generally involved software, I applied the theory into practice. Moreover, the number of electives is so large that I could choose modules that I was truly interested in.

What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy?

The wide availability of electives is one of the most important aspects of the programme. The short duration of the terms and being examined just after the modules finish are two reasons which make it more efficient to learn in this programme. In addition, the high number of countries represented by the students makes it more interesting to study and interact with other people under this programme.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

When I look back, I see that the autumn term has been the most challenging period of the programme. Core modules during this term are all highly quantitative and the coursework that we need to complete consume much of our time. On top of this, there are the application deadlines for graduate positions and internships. All these contribute to going through a quite demanding term.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

The fact that this programme gets me ready and fully prepared for a career in finance has been the most rewarding part. I can say with confidence that I have the necessary skills to succeed in the financial sector by combining my finance education with my previous background.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

Private Equity & Venture Capital has been my favourite module so far because the programme consists of many complementary aspects. Lectures, which were given by an industry expert, have been significant to convey why private equity and venture capital exists. The guest lectures we had every week were truly beneficial to understand these sectors from a practical and current view. Lastly, the financial models we prepared as part of our work were essential to get first-hand experience on these issues.

How has the International Experience trip been beneficial to you?

International Experience in Brussels has been beneficial to me to show another aspect of finance. Having a visit to the European Commission to hear a lecture about financial regulation showed me a different part of finance that is not widely covered during the programme.

Guest speakers

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

The guest lectures I listened to during the Private Equity & Venture Capital module have been useful to make me understand the current state of these two sectors. More importantly, the lecture given by Nicholas Stern about climate change and finance has been inspirational to say the least.

The faculty

How would you sum up the Business School faculty?

The Business School faculty is dynamic and young. All the professors that I have met are somehow connected with the finance industry.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

Maths for Finance module professor Angie Andrikogiannopoulou was my favourite because she was easily able to teach us the complicated the mathematical background we were going to use in our Derivatives module. Because of that background, I was able to understand the Derivatives module without too much difficulty.

Your cohort

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

During my previous studies I didn’t have many group assignments. After coming to Imperial I realised the importance of working efficiently in a group environment. It is essential for us to learn how to work in a group because many of us will work within groups in our future careers. That is why I believe Imperial’s attitude towards group work has been an effective one.

How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

My cohort mainly consists of recent graduates from undergraduate programmes. There are not many of us who have extensive career experience. It is a truly international group of people. There are students from economics, engineering or even finance backgrounds.

Extracurricular activities

What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?

I volunteered at Imperial Consulting Club being part of a student-led consulting team. Our client was actually a bio-engineering start-up from Imperial as well. I have attended several events organised by Business School clubs and by the Grantham Institute.

Opportunities from studying at Imperial

What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial that you wouldn’t get anywhere else?

The greatest opportunity of Imperial is that here you can find a high level combination of academic education, practical experience, guest speakers, company presentations, a wide range of activities and societies, career service and prestige that you can’t find anywhere else. There is no compromising on any of these aspects at Imperial.

How have you benefited from the services provided by Careers?

I have benefited extensively from Careers. At the start of the programme I received help with writing my CV and cover letter. Later on, I attended mock case studies and interviews with career consultants, which helped me a lot before actual interviews.

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

I joined several societies at Imperial College London. My time at Imperial Consulting Club was especially significant for me to meet with new people and volunteer for a common cause.

Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities? Please share any positive experiences you have had.

The fact that Imperial is located in central London was one of the reasons that I choose to come here. This makes it much easier for employers to come to Imperial and for us to attend their presentations. In addition, if I need to go to a company office, it is convenient for me.

Career goals and jobs

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

My future career goal is to work in the finance industry at a position where I can use my knowledge in both economics and finance. This is why I came to London and I am studying finance at Imperial. Imperial is helping me reach this goal by being a stepping stone and helping me understand finance and the industry.

Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?

I received two job offers based in London. I accepted one of them and I am going to start working in September as soon as my programme is finished. I got both of these offers in May, which is quite late into the course. My advice for future students is that they should not develop expectations to get very swift offers in the autumn term because that is likely not the case for many of us. There is no need however to feel despair because Careers can help you along the way in securing a graduate position, both before and after getting an offer.

Where do you see yourself upon completing the programme?

I have come to London with the goal to stay and work at least for a couple of years before returning back to Turkey with the experience that I have gained. Given there are many career opportunities in London, I think this is highly achievable for an Imperial student like me.

Life as a student in London

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

I am living in White City in West London at a postgraduate student dormitory. It is not an official Imperial dormitory, but it is closely affiliated because the new Imperial campus is being constructed just next to my building. I choose this place because no undergraduate students are living here and I thought it would be better to live with other postgraduates. However, I have realised that a diversity of undergraduate students is quite important as well. Also, I suggest living somewhere on the Piccadilly, Circle or District lines to have direct transportation to Imperial.

What can a weekend in London look like for an MSc student?

If you worked hard enough during the weekdays, then you can stop worrying about the coursework and start enjoying London on the weekends. There are just so many things to do in London, making it is possible to have a very fulfilling life. You can have brunch, lay down in a park if it is sunny and warm enough, go and see an exhibition at a museum, attend live performances or just have a couple of drinks in one of the many pubs in London.

In your opinion, tell us about the most exciting, undiscovered place in London.

It is impossible to find an undiscovered place in London but I can tell that one of the most exciting places is a pizza place called Homeslice. You may ask how a pizza place can be so exciting but just wait until you eat there!

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?

I have moved to London from Turkey for the programme and I have been enjoying my life here very much. There are numerous benefits but there are some challenges as well. First of all, London is an expensive city and you have to think twice before deciding on a place to live or making a purchase. Sometimes, it can feel too crowded with both the resident population and all the tourists, but it is a large city with many places to go.

Advice for future students

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

I think this programme is best for those who want to start a career in finance with no financial background or no specific interest in any sub-fields of finance.

Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online or on campus information sessions? Did you find these a useful part of the recruitment process? Would you recommend that prospective students attend these events?

I did not attend any information sessions before applying for the programme. I knew this programme was right for me by reading its webpage. After getting my offer from the programme I contacted an alumni and asked some questions. In addition, I attended some online sessions that were presented to offer holders. I found these useful as they started my integration to Imperial from an early point in time.

Share with us a handy hint or trick which makes campus life that much easier!

When you are sick and tired of sitting on a chair all day, just grab a book that you like and enjoy reading it on the couches in the Senior Common Room. This room is used only by faculty and PhD students, so you won’t be disturbed by children’s noises.

Aygen Öztürk

MSc Finance 2014- 2015

Nationality: Turkish

Undergraduate Education: BA Economics, Sabancı University

Contact via LinkedIn