Philippe van der Beck
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
- Research Assistant at the Max Planck Institute
- Research Assistant at the Ifo Institute for Economic Research
- Teaching Assistant at the Ludwig Maximilians University
Why did you decide to study an MSc Finance at Imperial College Business School?
The MSc Finance at Imperial College Business School is a world class programme and highly regarded by employers. At the start of the degree I was not fully sure of whether I wanted to pursue a career in academia or the industry. Fortunately, the MSc Finance at Imperial College Business School is highly versatile and enables students to tailor the programme according to their interests. Thus, the MSc Finance bridges rigour and relevance like no other programme in the UK.
Did you receive a scholarship? If yes, what were the benefits of receiving this?
I received the Brilliant Minds Scholarship of £20,000 for excellent academic achievement prior to the MSc Finance. The Business School provides very generous funding, for which no additional application is required. Receiving a scholarship is not only beneficial from a financial standpoint but is furthermore highly regarded by potential employers.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?
The wide range of different modules enables students to get a highly diversified education with knowledge in multiple different fields. I personally enjoyed the option of choosing the research project as a final dissertation. It enabled me to tailor the degree towards getting an academic career. Lastly, over the programme of the entire year and particularly during the Dublin trip, the entire cohort built a strong network with close friendships.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
My favourite module has been Asset Allocation and Investment Strategies, which is being taught by Prof. Andrea Buraschi. The module offers a perfect combination of academic research and practical application. It exposes students to a wide range of academic literature, applied case studies and coding.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
The first few months of the programme overlap with the application period for most summer internships, full-time positions and PhD programmes. Combined with an intensive workload including programme work and presentations as well as networking events and core skill workshops the first semester is quite challenging. However, the taught material closely aligns with potential interview questions and many modules are aimed at improving the technical knowledge required for finance interviews.
Did you attend an international trip? If so, which trips did you attend and how have they been beneficial to you?
I attended the Dublin Trip, which was a great opportunity to get to know the entire cohort outside the lecture room. The programme team organised interesting presentations and workshops, as well as a treasure hunt through Dublin. The trip was beneficial in many ways. Not only was it interesting to visit one of Europe´s most important Tech capitals, but it also bound together the entire programme and many new friendships were formed.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
Students across all Finance Programmes at Imperial College Business School are extremely open-minded, smart and driven. Furthermore, the cohort is very international and all students come from different backgrounds, both academically and culturally.
Imperial places a large emphasis on group work; what did you like the most about working in this type of environment?
Group work is a very important part of the programme for multiple reasons. First of all, it brings the cohort closer together and students get to know each other better. Secondly, it helps finding your personal strengths and combining them with the skill set of the other group members. Effective work allocation of group tasks is crucial at any point in a professional career. Lastly, the intensive group experience over the course of the entire year is very useful regarding questions about previous group work experience in job interviews.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?
Imperial College has many great professors that provide excellent academic advice to interested students. Professor Robert Kosowski has been extremely helpful in the decision-making process regarding different PhD positions and has given me valuable advice regarding a career in academia. The greatest opportunity I have had at Imperial was writing my Master´s Thesis under his supervision.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
My future goals are closely aligned with my previous work experience as a teaching and research assistant. I want to pursue an academic career, which will enable me to combine two great passions of mine: Independent research and teaching. Securing a PhD position at the Swiss Finance Institute starting this September was a very important step towards this goal. The covered material during the MSc Finance was extremely helpful for the interview and application process.
Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?
I have received admission to the PhD Programme in Finance at the Swiss Finance Institute, which will begin in September 2018. The programme’s duration is 4 years after which I will hopefully be able to continue a career in academia.
How did the services from Careers help you secure employment and help in your professional development?
The services from Careers are extremely helpful in preparing for interviews, improving your networking skills and enhancing your written application and CV.
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.
Studying in central London is very beneficial for the entire interview process of many job opportunities. Especially during times, when exams, interviews and coursework deadlines collide, it is extremely convenient to live close to the employers. Furthermore, the number of networking events and career session in London is endless. Studying in central London and being close to these opportunities leads to a much smoother transition into the industry after the MSc Finance.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I live in South Kensington, which is ideal for students studying at Imperial for several reasons: Firstly, it is very close to the University, which saves a lot of time. This is crucial during the first semester, where time is getting short due to job interviews and daily lectures. Secondly, many students of the Business School live around the area. Thus, hanging out with friends and going for a drink is very easy and does not require a lot of planning ahead.
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?
The benefits most definitely outweigh the challenges. Of course it is not easy to find cheap and well located accommodation, but other than that London is an amazing city with innumerable opportunities for personal, intellectual and professional development at every turn.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
Think about what your career goals are post the MSc Finance. This is not only crucial for choosing the right programme, but also efficiently managing your time before that start of the programme and during the first month.