M.S. in Commerce (Finance) 2018, University of Virginia
B.A. in Economics 2017, University of Cambridge
After: Investment Banking Analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (London, United Kingdom)
Transitioning from undergrad to graduate school
I found the transition from undergraduate studies in Cambridge (UK) to McIntire to be a very smooth one, aided by the welcoming faculty and helpful support staff. The academic structure at McIntire, with its focus on active participation, group work, practical learning and case studies, was very different to my more theoretical and mathematical undergraduate course, and I really enjoyed this contrast. Being an international student at UVA was a fantastic experience, the support from the International Studies Office was great, and there is a really welcoming atmosphere at the university as a whole.
Most compelling class
I would say my most compelling class was “Investment Banking,” taken with Professor Bill Wilhelm in the spring semester. This class was especially relevant to my career and contained an interesting blend of theoretical considerations and compelling case studies into famous moments in financial history, where we could apply the theories and topics learned to real-world situations.
Preparation for a career in finance
The M.S. in Commerce prepared me in many ways—with the knowledge of hard technical skills from the in-depth financial content covered that wasn’t covered in my undergraduate program, through refining my soft skills and general business abilities, and by providing an international outlook through the Global Immersion Experience (GIE).
Commerce Career Services was also invaluable during the job search process, by providing interview preparation and tons of general advice and even helping me convert my UK-style CV into a US-style resume.
A day on the job
Last Tuesday, I began by catching up on my emails and the list of tasks to complete in the day, after which I finished up working on a presentation I had been working on and ensured the printed copies were delivered to the right person ahead of the afternoon meeting with the client. I then dialed into some calls relating to a live deal that I was working on and took notes, before working on various deal-related tasks, mainly involving general fact finding, Microsoft Excel, and PowerPoint.
Advice for those considering a career in investment banking
Three things: 1) Make sure that you know what you are signing up for and that you will like the nature of work in the investment banking industry; 2) apply far and wide, as the application processes can be very competitive; and 3) don't be against applying for internship roles too, as many banks (especially the larger ones) almost entirely hire through internship programs, and investment banking experience is often a prerequisite for a full-time role.
Advice for future international students considering the M.S. in Commerce
Go for it! There is a wide support network for international students and a very inclusive community and learning environment, both within McIntire but also at the University as a whole.
Most memorable GIE company visit on the Greater China track
My most memorable visit was to the Shanghai United Media Group’s offices in Shanghai—it was fascinating to hear about how a media company works in such a controlled environment and how they market themselves and try to tap into the latest media trends but still under the watchful gaze of the Communist Party—certainly not an experience I will forget!
Favorite Charlottesville activity
Going for a hike around the neighboring Blue Ridge Mountains, followed by a trip to a local brewery or vineyard for some food and drink with friends!