Originally from Suzhou, China, Chuchu Xu discusses earning her MS in Finance abroad at Syracuse University's Whitman School of Management.
Name: Chuchu Xu
School: MS in Finance, The Martin J. Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University
Profession: Senior Business Analyst at RELX Group – Reporting & Strategy, New York, New York
MS in Finance
What do you think is your program's greatest asset?
The MSF program is taught by professors with strong academic backgrounds who are notable working professionals within the financial service industry. This provides students with the opportunity to learn about the functionalities of various positions within the industry. By linking the classroom directly with the real world, students get in-depth exposure to the day-to-day workflow and leave the program well prepared for the next phase of their career.
If you had the chance to do your MSF program again, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?
I would devote a bit more time on extracurricular activities, such as taking a speech class, joining a book club or attending more social events. As students we focus heavily on grades and try hard to stay on top; we lose sight of how important it is to be well-rounded. A high GPA looks good on applications and is important in securing a good job but it is not the sole factor nor will it, by itself, help maintain a positive career trajectory course.
How much are you in touch with the alumni network? Are they helpful in making connections with companies? What did you learn about creating and utilizing networks during your MSF?
The alumni database was something that I used almost every day while in school; I talked to at least 20 alumni for career guidance before starting my internship, and another 10 before taking my first full-time position to make sure I was well prepared and informed about the job market.
The alumni network has proven to be an extremely helpful tool for career guidance and establishing connections with other companies. To best utilize the alumni network you should be clear on what your goals are, narrow down the contacts to alumni in your interested field, and be straightforward but polite when you reach out to them. Most importantly, you must be persistent and not get discouraged if you don’t get a reply immediately after reaching out to five people – keep trying and a response is guaranteed.
Did you do an internship during your MSF? How did that experience influence your education and career?
I interned with UBS Wealth Management in New York City. I got this internship through a referral from the alumni network. My internship helped me understand the industry better and clarified the various positions within this business area. After this internship, I realized that a strategy role would suit me better than a sales role. This experience influenced a lot of career decisions I made later on.
What advice can you give to ease the transition to a new country?
Communication is the key to everything. Strong language skills enable you to communicate better with locals and get used to a new country/culture faster. A very common issue that international students have is shyness because we are worried of being laughed at for speaking “broken” English. However, we have to realize that communicating with locals is the only way to improve our English and to understand the culture. Luckily, all cultures are welcomed here and people are eager to make friends with you and know you better. It helps to keep in mind that being from another culture halfway around the world, is, in itself very cool!
What inspired you to pursue your MSF abroad and what have been the greatest benefits of doing so?
I wanted to interact with people from other countries in order for me to expand my mind and knowledge. I wanted to open more doors for myself, career-wise and life-wise. I wanted to be well positioned for leadership roles which need communication skills to deal with people from various cultures.
Right now, I’m working in an organization with a very wide global presence. The knowledge I obtained from my MSF program, my schoolmates, my professors, and alumni enables me to communicate effectively and efficiently with coworkers and clients from all over the world.
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