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How to get maximum out of the masters?

I am newbie on this forum so please excuse me for any potential indiscretion.

I am currently located in Australia and working for an IT services firm as a Business Analyst at Sydney. My client is a leading credit card issuer. The role is not quantitative. I have an MBA from a top B-School in India but since I had a permanent residency, I migrated to Australia. I have been trying to break into conventional finance ( PM, AM, ER) roles but havent been successful due to lack of experience in these areas. My international MBA (though highly rated in India) isn't helping either. Last year, I started following quantnet and was impressed with what one can do in financial engineering space. I am a chemical engineer so maths is not a problem for me. It infact appeals to me. I have also started my career as a .Net programmer.

I researched a bit about University of Technology, Sydney - Master of Quant Finance course and found it to be quite good (at least in Australia). I spoke to some alumni as well. They had a high regard for the program. I have got an acceptance for this program and I will be starting in Spring semester.

Considering my background, what would be your advise to me so that I can maximise the learning and returns from this program? My objective is to enter a mathematically oriented finance role. I dont mind doing risk, insurance, trading etc.

Any advice would be really helpful!! Thanks in advance.

Jose T

Rutgers MSMF
My suggestion would be to get quantitative internships both during the year and over the summers.

My reasoning is that the best way for you to gain a network is to do so by building work relationships. This will net you fewer but deeper relationships than going to networking events (which you can also do if you have time). It will also gain you experience in implementing quantitative methods practically which is generally hard to get through coursework.

For a mathematically oriented role, allow yourself to cast a wide net by becoming an expert in the widely used proprietary softwares SAS and Matlab in addition to gaining a basic knowledge of programming fundamentals in base languages (C++, C#, Java et al) and, time permitting, niche scripting languages like R and Python.

Not everything will be covered in your masters, so gain a familiarity with the common applied math and statistical techniques like linear programming, quadratic optimization, interpolation, important linear algebra methods (cholesky, spectral value decomposition for example), eigenvector decomposition, monte carlo, linear regression, multivariate regression, hypothesis testing, parameter estimation, basic bayesian statistics, categorical prediction (or basic machine learning), algorithmic complexity, (non-stochastic) differential equations and pdes. I would not advise taking 'extra courses' because you want to have the time to find and work internships, but you should study on your own whatever things seem to be important but aren't covered in your overall course.

Avoid studying and getting certificates until you have a position which such a certificate will enhance. Focus on gaining experience and learning in class / on your own and that should both help to find you an opportunity and help you understand what kind of opportunity it is that you want.

Best of luck.
i'd tweak the above, really at this stage of your entry, and suggest to really consider whether you are likely to want to end up in the developer space... and if the answer is no, skim over your harder (c++) coding subjects, as the vast amount of finance work is excel/vba, and little else UNLESS you are seriously trying to be a quant and/or quant developer.

additionally, portfolio management, equities researcher etc, i *tentatively* doubt are going to require much "serious" math either... again, imho you're talking much more high level projections and modelling.

so... familiarity with these things will help, no doubt. Will you ever use them much? Depends. You really need to look around this forum for the careers guides and try to narrow down what you want to do, as early as possible. The scattershot approach will probably come to grief.

Network, Network, Network... with your lecturers, (do a research project if at all possible, that is cool), and your fellow students, and as Jose said, internships / part time work in the industry.

* I work in Sydney, Australia, but am not at all intimately familiar with the Uni of Tech, so I can't comment on the course itself.
Thanks a lot for your inputs Jose and Dale. I definitely cannot agree more on the stress about networking. And as you guys have mentioned, I am actually still exploring on what track should I choose. I am taking CFA Level 2 and FRM Part 2 this year to further add credibility to my profile . I must admit that I have learnt more about finance during the CFA and FRM curricula than during my MBA.

I will look for the career guides and find out what suits best to me.

daleholborow it is great to know that you are working in Sydney. I would really appreciate if I can have a chat with you about possible options here in Australia. Would it be OK if I PM you?