Originally from China, Qing Xia discusses earning her MS in Finance abroad at Syracuse University's Whitman School of Management.
Name: Qing Xia
School: MS in Finance, The Martin J. Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University
Profession: Analyst at Barclays Risk and Index Solution (BRAIS), Barclays Capital, New York City, New York
MS in Finance
What has been your favorite classroom series?
I really enjoyed the financial modeling course by professor Ravi Shukla. In the first class, the professor showed us his financial model, and I couldn't believe Excel could be so powerful! We also had projects, such as bond valuation, portfolio selection, and financial statements forecasting. I learned how to build frameworks and write formulas, as well as how to make the tables dynamic and more user-friendly. Every week I spent 20 hours or more on the project, which was a bit of a struggle. However, just as my professor said, you will never learn if you don’t struggle for it. In my job interviews, I told representatives my story and showed them the project I made. They were all very impressed.
If you had the chance to do your MSF program again, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?
Location is everything! When I was networking with the alumni, I just emailed and called them to connect. While the alumni offered me some great insights via email, I think it would have been much better if I had met them in person over coffee or lunch. After graduation, I moved to New York City where I met more people and participated in lots of alumni events. Those brilliant people inspired me and I was able to find many opportunities and possibilities for my career. I would recommend that students not wait until after they graduate to connect with alumni in person. If you are unable to go in person, at least try connecting with them virtually via a short Skype video call.
Did you do an internship during your MSF? How did that experience influence your education and career?
I participated in two internships. I interned first as a financial advisor at Principal Financial Group, assisting in planning retirement solutions for clients. I obtained this internship through networking. Afterwards, I received another internship offer from a startup asset management firm in Florida, where I worked directly with the Chief Information Officer to provide investment advice to high-net-worth clients and performed investment research. That job was more exciting! Every day I followed the news, conducted research and built models. I now know more about financial markets and industries as well as investment strategies. Both internship experiences helped me get my full-time job as a quantitative research analyst at a hedge fund.
How did you highlight your personal and career achievements on your resume?
First, I followed the STAR rule to tell the story: situation, task, action, and result. Second, I quantified my work and results, such as how many companies I follow to research, and how many clients I assist. Third, I prepared different resumes and stories for different job descriptions. For example, when looking for job doing investment research, I would list my research projects in my resume.
What advice can you give to ease the transition to a new country?
Study abroad as an exchange student during your time as an undergraduate, if you get a chance. Going abroad is very helpful. In my junior year, I attended a winter program at Columbia University, where I grew familiar with the United States. A year later, I came to Syracuse University. My prior experience abroad made the transition much easier.
What was the biggest challenge you faced as an international student?
Culture is different. I could actively join the class and share my points. However, when people talked about football and baseball I knew nothing about the games or sports superstars. Also, it’s challenging to obtain an H1-B working visa, if you plan to work in the United States. Plus, you have to find a company who is willing and able to sponsor the visa and be lucky enough to “win the lottery.” Knowing and understanding the challenges ahead of time will help you plan your trajectory accordingly. Engage in as many social activities as you can so that you can learn about and become comfortable talking about various topics. Also, engage in as many student club activities as you can so that you can improve your presentation skills and learn to articulate your content in a much more polished manner. All these experiences will ultimately help you to be comfortable when you interview for jobs and possibly help you market yourself better.
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