How does one make a bullish start to carving out a career in finance? For fresh graduates, summer internships offer a window of opportunity to get their feet in the doors of dream financial institutions that are inclined to hire directly from the intern pool.
The right internship not only offers a chance for them to get a glimpse of life on the trading floor but also an opportunity to demonstrate their potential. For a fortunate few, an employment offer awaits at the end of the stint. It’s a win-win collaboration for the bank and the intern but, needless to say, competition is rife to secure a placement.
This is where programs such as ESSEC Business School’s Master in Finance (MIF) come in. Understanding the importance of obtaining the right internship and the need to stand out from the crowd, ESSEC places a huge emphasis on guiding its students through the process. Training starts during the first week of the academic year in September, to ensure all students are ready as soon as summer applications are open.
Thanks to the rigorous training, one out of every five students from the 2018 cohort in ESSEC’s Asia-Pacific campus secured prestigious summer internships. Alexandre Ollivier, a graduate from the cohort, secured a three-month internship at Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong as Securities Summer Analyst. He attributes his success in landing the internship to the training and guidance that ESSEC has given him throughout the application process, and the confidence he gained to work proficiently once the internship began.
“The MIF qualification helped me to get noticed by Goldman Sachs due to a healthy track record of previous interns coming from ESSEC. I discovered that ESSEC had a reputation of sending students already comfortable with the technicalities of finance,” he says.
“Landing a summer internship at Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong was a dream come true. As one of the world’s top three financial centres, I could think of no better place to do my internship. I ended up in macro trading and equities trading. I also had time to network and shadow team members on the trading floor.”
ESSEC is an international business school with campuses in France, Singapore and Morocco. Founded in 1907, ESSEC belongs to the prestigious league of grandes écoles in France – highly selective education institutions that are recognized by the French Ministry of Education.
ESSEC’s MiF graduates are highly sought after and valued for their sound knowledge of finance and strong technical skills, gained as a result of rigorous learning and industry exposure. Ranked number one in Asia and fifth worldwide by the Financial Times, 100 percent of its graduates found employment within three months of graduation.
Undoubtedly, students who enrol at ESSEC are ambitious and career-oriented. As Ollivier explains, “I have always been clear in my career direction. I wanted to secure a front office position on the trading floor. ESSEC has helped me achieve this goal because of the school’s reputation and years of excellence recognized by all financial institutions.”
That’s not to say prestige alone guarantees a student’s success. In today’s economic environment, academic qualifications need to be supported by practical know-how. As banks continue to automate financial modelling, it is no longer a bonus but a requirement for one to know coding in Python.
During his two years of study at the Singapore campus, the French national says he particularly enjoyed practical modules such as learning financial theory while developing coding skills. “ESSEC’s emphasis on coding makes the MIF program very relevant now and in years to come,” he says.
During that same summer, another ESSEC student was interning at Societe Generale in Singapore. Ashley Lim, a Singaporean, was gaining exposure on the trading floor. “It was fast-paced but I had the opportunity to interact with the traders and understand how they trade,” he says.
“Transitioning to the role at Societe Generale was a challenge but I applied what I have learnt from the course and put it into practice. I’m still junior but it’s a very interesting role. I support the traders and conduct reporting, publishing and monitoring of the P&L.”
Interestingly, it was through his internship that he realized he was intrigued by market volatility. “One day you can be looking at the numbers and they show just what the market has predicted - then the next moment everything changes.”
Likewise, there will be summers and winters along the life cycle of a successful career. Beyond their internships, both graduates are confident of having a solid foundation upon which they can take their next steps.
Asked how he feels about his future and Ollivier says, “I will stop planning for a while and see where my professional career leads me. But one thing of which I am sure, I will stay hungry to learn and give my best to excel in everything that I undertake.”
Like the seasons, we can’t always predict the ebbs and flows for a career in finance. But for those starting out from ESSEC, the journey might just be a little easier.
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