My ESSEC Master in Finance helped me land a place on the UBS graduate programme. Here’s how it set me up for a career in banking

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LIM ZHI YANMarie (002)

Marie was keen to get a head start in a career in banking and ESSEC’s Master in Finance (MiF) provided the springboard she needed.

After completing a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance, Marie was keen to dig deeper into the subject.

“The Bachelor’s degree gave a very holistic view of financial concepts and culture, but I wanted to gain more specialised and in-depth knowledge about the different fields in finance, and that made me pursue an MiF,” she says.

ESSEC’s programme stood out for Marie for a number of reasons, not least of which was its strong academic credentials, placed third in the world in the Financial Times 2017 Master of Finance ranking.

“ESSEC offers many top-ranked courses, of which the MiF is one of the most highly ranked in the world, and it is especially recognised in the banking industry, which is where I wanted to be.

“I knew I could leverage on this to help me get a head start in a career in finance, as I know it is quite competitive among graduates,” Marie says.

After studying in Singapore for her first degree, Marie was also keen to get some international exposure. “I wanted to interact with people from different cultures. Most of my classmates were from France and different countries in Europe, and the teaching faculty was very diverse as well.

“It really broadened my knowledge of different work cultures and how an Asian work culture differed from a European one,” she says.

ESSEC’s MiF consists of 21 core subjects and 29 elective courses, enabling students to tailor the programme to their individual interests and career goals.

Students choose to follow one of three specialised tracks in either corporate finance, financial markets or asset management, to match their professional ambitions. Marie chose the corporate finance track.

“Having the option to specialise really helped me delve into very technical concepts. It allowed me to focus on what I really wanted to learn, especially through the electives, which covered very niche areas of knowledge that I had never touched on before,” she says.

Marie adds that ESSEC also provided many specialised workshops and career seminars on corporate finance. Even though she specialised in corporate finance, she still had the chance to take modules from the other tracks.

The courses Marie found most beneficial were on financial risk management and fixed income. “These were helpful because they provided me with the foundation knowledge that I need to know in my job.

“More importantly, the professors who were teaching the courses were practitioners in the finance industry, so they were able to provide us with market knowledge and real-life examples,” she says.

Besides the academic courses, one thing that stood out for Marie was a seminar organised by ESSEC alumni to help students understand how to secure a job in the banking industry and how to prepare for interviews and assessments.

“They provided very specialised and in-depth knowledge on what is needed for these interviews. They also advised us how to do well at networking sessions, how to put ourselves out there to let employers get to know us and discover our strengths,” she says.

Another aspect of the programme Marie enjoyed was the international study trip, for which she travelled to Hong Kong. “It was really fun because we got to visit many different banks. It was very helpful because we met many ESSEC alumni in different banks. It really helped me understand more about the industry and the area I wanted to specialise in,” she says.

A key part of the MiF programme for Marie was a 10-week long internship she did with UBS, which ultimately helped her land a job at the bank.

“It was very rewarding and my first experience working at a bank. The culture at UBS is very friendly and supportive, where colleagues from different departments are very open to interns and junior staff. They always encourage us to ask questions,” she says.

Marie’s manager assigned her to a project to help her gain more in-depth knowledge about each desk within the team.

“It was a very enriching experience because I got to work with other departments outside of my team and helped to close some general knowledge gaps. I presented my findings from the project, and people showed interest by raising questions. This meant I was able to make a tangible contribution, even as an intern.”

Marie’s manager was so impressed with her that when her internship ended, she placed Marie on UBS’s Graduate Talent Programme.

Marie thinks doing her MiF and internship was a crucial step in getting on to this programme. “It is beneficial for anyone who wants to start in the banking industry because it is a very well-structured programme,” she says.

 

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