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UCL Insights Part II: A discussion with a graduate of the programme

March 16th, 2017 / / Featured Insights

Please introduce yourself, your academic background, and your professional goals?

My name is Anna, I hold a bachelor in Economics, a two year masters in Quantitative finance and a one-year master at Computational Finance at UCL. I have always liked academia, but after 6 years of graduate and postgraduate studies I was curious to gain relevant experience in the field. After my internship at BNP Paribas in the Risk and PnL department, I got a graduate offer to join the xVA IT desk. My first goal is to gain the development skills that, given my theoretical  background, I lack. In the same time, I don’t want to lose the knowledge coming from years of studies. I would like to stay in my current field, quantitative development, improving my skills and in time maybe acquire the necessary skills for managerial roles.

How do you think your skills improved during this internship?

When I first arrived at BNP I had no idea about software development. I had to learn fast to keep up with the challenging summer project. My python skills improved dramatically, I got a better idea of OOP, software architecture. Additionally, I got the chance to work with trade data and to use machine learning techniques. For the first time I could apply theoretical skills to a real-life case, enriching my previous knowledge. On top of that, I finally got an insight of how an Investment bank works, what are the internal dynamics and structures.

What would you say motivated you to participate in this internship?

As I mentioned, I wanted to get my hands dirty with something practical but still related to my field of study. Additionally, I knew the internship was a terrific opportunity to meet highly-skilled professionals and managers that could have helped me, and could potentially be interested in hiring me.

What skills or talent do you feel you brought to this role?

I think my team play was necessary and welcomed by the other teammates and supervisors. I also had a solid knowledge of financial markets, that added to the more technical skills of other colleagues. I also consider myself a hard working person, and this feature turned out to be essential during the internship months.

Could you give us a summary of the kind of work you did during this internship?

Me and my team developed a web application in charge of structuring trade data and risk data using no-SQL databases. The first goal of the project was to analyse which no-SQL database was the best choice for the dataset given, according to some parameters. On top of that, the app was able, with ML algorithms, to individuate the potential errors in the data collected and even investigate the bug cause.

What advice would you give future students looking to embark on this internship?

I would say that this is a truly unique opportunity, that might not happen twice in your life. Starting off after a master might be a delicate moment of passage, and it can be determinant for the rest of your career. This is why I would suggest to any graduate student to give 100% of their ability during the internship weeks. Be the first to get in and the last to get out. Don’t be afraid of asking questions. Socialize, talk to people, get to know them and let yourself known as a precious resource. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that nobody is watching: you will see, hopefully not too late, that your efforts will be noticed. Opportunities of all kinds might appear because of that additional hour you worked at your desk, because of that good presentation you spent 1 week preparing, because your industrial supervisor mentions your name to your future manager. Good luck!

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