BA Economics and Mathematics, Boston University
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
After finishing my undergraduate degree, I worked in the telecommunications sector for about two years. I did a management trainee programme where I was rotated through various departments, and from all of them, I enjoyed working in finance the most. I eventually left to help a company with their IPO and then I moved to a fintech startup. I always wanted to do my Master’s and at this point, I knew what kind of programme would be most beneficial for my career.
Why did you decide to study MSc Financial Technology at Imperial College Business School?
I was working at a peer-to-peer lending startup and I am quite confident about this topic, but there are lots of aspects of the fintech ecosystem that I am not knowledgeable about. However, because fintech is a new field, there are not many universities offering it as a full Master's degree. I think the MSc Financial Technology degree is unique and it sets me apart from other candidates when applying for jobs.
Did you receive a scholarship?
I chose not to be considered for any scholarships as I know that the process of applying for scholarships can be complex and time-consuming. However, I discovered that for Imperial it is quite straightforward and that for some scholarships you do not even need to provide any additional materials, so as long as you submit your application before the deadline you are automatically considered. Knowing this, I encourage all prospective students to apply as soon as possible.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?
I like the fact that most of our assessments are group work as it is great for developing our soft skills. We have a diverse class so there is so much that I learned from interacting with my classmates. We are so different, and this is fantastic when it comes to doing the coursework because everyone has their strengths and brings a new perspective to the table. Doing the coursework becomes surprisingly fun as my study group is so engaging.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
Accounting and Corporate Finance with Professor Rajkamal Iyer was fantastic. The whole class was taught with case studies which was intimidating at first, but when you get used to it, it is a great way to learn the theories. I feel confident that I can apply the concepts to real-world scenarios.
What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?
I have taken a computer science class with Python a long time ago and have not used it since, so unfortunately I have forgotten most of it. At the start of the programme, we took a module that introduced us to data structures and algorithms in Python. It was a very intense four weeks, but I feel so happy that I can code in Python again. In this programme, we must use Python and R in most of our modules and this has been excellent for reinforcing my learning, I do not think I will forget how to code in Python again.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
The hardest part for me was getting into a good study habit. I have been away from university for a while, so I was not used to spending my free time studying. Because the programme is fast-paced, and the exam starts immediately the week after the lectures end, you have to constantly study so that you are not behind. I had to learn to be organised and manage my study schedule properly.
How have you found the multi-mode teaching delivery?
The multi-mode teaching has been good, I am glad that we get to have some in-person classes since I know some universities have decided to go completely online. I think the online lectures at Imperial are still captivating as they are quite interactive, so you are still actively participating in the class and not just watching a screen. The lecturers are well-trained in using Zoom and they have an assistant called a Co-Pilot, so things run smoothly and there are rarely technical issues.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
My classmates are wonderful people. They are incredibly supportive and encouraging when I am struggling with certain materials, and even though they are incredibly busy, they are patient enough to teach it to me. When I have concerns unrelated to the programme, my classmates are always willing to listen and give advice, even when we did not know each other that well yet. I feel so fortunate to have such a friendly cohort.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
I like all my professors. They are all very passionate about their subjects and their passion is infectious. They all have their unique style of teaching and can make lectures interesting. If I have to choose a favourite, I will say Professor James Sefton as he made the Business Valuation module fun. I like the stories he told, maybe because we have a similar sense of humour. An awesome thing I want to mention about the Finance Master’s programmes at Imperial is that I had lots of female professors — at other institutions I have studied at I barely saw any. Finance can be too male-oriented and intimidating at times, learning from my awesome female professors gives me more confidence that I can succeed in this field.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?
I am the Student-Staff Committee (SSC) Academic Leader for MSc Financial Technology. I act as one of the representatives for my cohort in meetings with the programme team where we discuss students' concerns about the teaching quality, career services, and the School’s facilities in general. The SSC has been a fantastic experience for me as it pushes me to engage with my classmates and keep myself up-to-date with the various events happening and as a result, I feel connected to the community.
Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
I love classes where we have lots of guest speakers because I find it hard sometimes to connect theories to real-world applications so hearing actual industry practitioners talk about their work helps me understand the concepts. One class that I think has an excellent selection of guest speakers is Big Data in Finance I, taught by Professor Tarun Ramadorai. It is a core module for MSc Financial Technology and an elective for some of the other Finance programmes. I would recommend that students from other programmes take it if they get the opportunity.
Have you had opportunities to work/socialise with students across programmes within the Business School?
When you take your electives, you are mixed with students from other programmes. In general, everyone in the Business School is so friendly and open to networking so I have made many cool friends studying at the business lounge or the library.
How have you benefited from the Business School’s connection to the Imperial College London community?
I have connected with some alumni from both the Business School and the other faculties at Imperial College London. Everyone has a strong sense of belonging to the Imperial community and they are generous with their time and gave excellent advice when I asked for some career advice. I think we have a strong alumni network.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
To be honest I am still not entirely sure what my dream role is, but I know that I want to work on something that makes me happy and is helpful to society. Before studying at Imperial, I was working at a peer-to-peer lending startup that aimed to improve financial inclusion in Indonesia. I will most likely be returning to my previous employer. I believe that coming to Imperial has been an excellent investment for me as it has helped me fill in the gaps of my knowledge and I feel that I will be able to add lots of value to the startup if I returned. After being exposed to many cool topics in fintech I am interested in exploring other parts of the ecosystem so I might switch to another company, and my time at Imperial has given me more confidence to take risks.
Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?
I have been approached by recruiters for fintech startups and have gotten offers from a few banks, so this degree has opened doors for me. The one-to-one session with a career consultant was helpful, we talked about my aspirations and talked about the realistic steps I could take to achieve them. One of my favourite Careers resources is the video interview practice platform called VMock that uses AI to evaluate our performance and gives a detailed breakdown.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
London is an amazing city to study in when you are an international student like me. The city is so diverse so you will meet people from all over the world, and you can feel confident that you will be able to make connections that could help you with your career if you do choose to return to your home country. Also, if you are interested in finance and fintech, this city is unbeatable. Walking around the city I sometimes talk with strangers that happen to be working in the field and can give me some great advice and connect me to other people.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
In the Autumn term, I was living in South Kensington which was nice since I can walk to campus and relax in Hyde Park whenever I want. However, I was living alone and I felt a bit lonely at times so I moved to the Woodlane Studios Gradpad, since some of my classmates were living there. I enjoy living in Gradpad because the studio is very comfortable, the building facilities are nice and the location is very convenient. As it is next to a huge mall, I can quickly run to the shops if I need anything. It is also next to the Business School’s Scale Space at the White City Campus, which is a nice place to have your study sessions in.
When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?
I love watching performing arts like ballet and symphony. I am also a big history nerd, so I like spending weekends in the museums, and London has many which are superb. With the lockdown, I have not been able to enjoy those things, so I have been teaching myself how to cook and I think my skills are pretty good now. I also like strolling through the parks. London has pretty parks with many cute animals, such as Holland Park which has beautiful peacocks.
If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London?
I was confused when I arrived in London. The city is so big and the different areas are so unlike each other so it took me a while to know my directions and the cool places to go to. I was also confused about the healthcare system at first so if you have any medical concerns, I suggest that you contact the Programme team. They can help you get you in touch with the right people to talk to before coming to London. However, once the administration things are done, the NHS system is excellent and the Imperial College Health Centre is convenient. My advice is that, if possible, try to make friends with a Londoner before you move so you can ask them questions and please do not be shy to talk to the programme team or the faculty tutor.
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions?
Unfortunately, I did not get to attend any events before I applied to the programme. One thing I did do that was super useful was read the student profiles and contact the Student Ambassadors. One of the most important factors to me when deciding if I wanted to study a programme was to think about if I would get along with the other students, so I encourage prospective students to connect with current students or alumni through either the Unibuddy platform or LinkedIn so you can get a feel for what kind of classmates you will have.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
There are lots of components to the application and they are equally important so I do not think that you should rush any part and focus on one or two things only. I made a spreadsheet to help me organise what I must do. I would suggest that prospective students do something similar because there are lots of additional documents that you might need to prepare to help you fill out the application. For example, one section asks you to describe the quantitative courses you have taken and to do this I needed to sort through my diploma and some certifications to fill it in detail. Also, people usually worry about the video interview, but the Kira Talent system lets you practice. I believe that if you manage your time well and are careful you will be able to create a strong application.