It has been a while! I just got back from wonderful vacation in Thailand. I would love to tell you all about it, but I am sure I will find an opportunity to do it once I meet you in person in the upcoming Fall. Now, if you are prospective Masters of Finance student, or if you have already been admitted for the upcoming 2015 intake, this blog post is for you.
I remember back when I was applying for the program and had read everything there was to read about the school, curriculum, rankings, etc. Everything sounded wonderful. Of course, our marketing folks make sure we look good for you guys. However, in order to get a real feeling for what it was like to be a Master of Finance student, there is really no better way than to just ask those who have been there. That’s where I come in! I just finished my second semester, and I feel I’m in a good position to share a little bit about my experience with you, and hopefully help you make more educated decision about your future plans. I will post a few of the questions I remember having before coming on board, sort of a Q&A with myself. So here we go.
How difficult is the program?
This is a tough one to answer, since everyone’s background is different. However, if you have been selected for the program, you are certainly smart enough to get through it. Exams are usually difficult, but as long as you put in the effort and are able to manage your time correctly, you should be in good shape.
One thing I would mention here though is that I felt that my math was a bit rusty coming into the program. A few of the classes in the first semester, such as Statistics and Principles of Finance will require you to have a good math background. For that purpose, I would advise you to brush up on your calculus.
How is the environment during classes?
Since you decided to do a Master of Finance, I’m assuming that finance topics interest you. So you will really enjoy most of the classes. I did my undergrad in the United States and they make you take classes that are sometimes completely unrelated to your major. For instance, I studied Business, but took an Astronomy class! Well, here’s the good news: this is not going to happen at Frankfurt School.
So people usually ask many questions during class and professors are always very open to answer them. The fact that the number of students is very limited compared to public universities allows everyone to get their questions answered, which is nice.
How competitive is the program?
People here are very competitive. You will be surrounded by very smart classmates who are eager to learn and excel in their careers. So it is not uncommon to find people studying in the library after midnight. I have also noticed, for instance, that many of my classmates have either taken, or are studying to take, the CFA exams. The good thing is that surrounding yourself with competent people can only make you a better professional. However, don’t let that intimidate you. Remember that you have gone through a selective process and you are already part of the Crème de la Crème.
One piece of advice here: Grades matter! Make sure you put it some hard work, especially during the first 2 semesters, as this is usually when you are looking for internships and ‚working student‘ positions. When employees are sorting through hundreds of resumes, your grades can be the difference between getting a phone call and your resume ending up in a trash can.
Is it really all hard work and no fun?
Not at all! People here also find time to do things outside of School. One good thing about being a student is that you get a Semester Ticket, which allows you to use public transportation to go explore the many different places around Frankfurt. I have gone for day trips to neighboring cities with my classmates a few times. For instance, we once received free tickets to go visit one of the largest computer fairs in the world, the CeBit, in Hannover. In another instance, me and a few other classmates found tickets to go to London on Ryanair for 20 EUR each way, so off we went to spend a few days there.
How difficult is it to find an internship or working student position during your studies?
Alright, if you are willing to invest so much money and time into your career, you might want to make sure it is really worth it. What you will find is is that many of your classmates will already have a job or internship coming into the program. And those who do not, have absolutely no problem finding one. For instance, I am about to start working at a Private Equity Fund, which is really exciting.
After all, Frankfurt is the heart of German finance and probably the second largest financial hub in Europe, after London (don’t quote me on this). So all the global players in the financial services industry have offices in Frankfurt. In order to help you build a relationship with those firms, Frankfurt School organizes a couple of very helpful Career Fairs every year in which companies set up a booth on campus to talk to us. Last Fall, for instance, we had all the major banks such as Goldman Sachs, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, just to name a few. And, if you are into consultancy, all the Big Four companies were also there.
Ok, but I am not German. Does this apply to me?
I am from Brazil, and I don’t see my nationality as being a liability here. On the contrary, Frankfurt is a very international city, so employers do value the fact that you speak different languages. On that note, however, if there is one piece of advice I can give you, here it is: learn German! Make it one of your priorities to become as fluent as you can. Many employees will require fluent English AND German. My German is not perfect, but it’s good enough to get by. Frankfurt School also offers German classes for students with different levels of fluency. So I’d advise you to take advantage of that.
I know this is not an exhaustive list of questions, but since I know you will not read my blogposts if they are too long, I will end it here. However, if you have any questions about the program and you need an honest unbiased opinion, please don’t hesitate to drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope to see you around soon!