Hands-on training, support from alumni, and exposure to new fields of finance are among the many experiences that financial engineering students are gaining this fall in internships around the country and across the Atlantic.
Every student in the Berkeley Master of Financial Engineering Program (MFE) was placed in an internship, which typically runs from October 2013 to January 2014. Students earn on average $7,230 in monthly compensation.
"I was surprised to find how strong the Berkeley MFE network is in New York," says Kate Matrosova, MFE 14, who was placed at BNP Paribas in New York. "I'm working in different departments, and in each department there has been an alumnus who stopped by to say hello and ask me about my experience and offer help. It's really nice to have such a support network."
Matrosova also has been fortunate enough to have her internship evolve to better match her goals. BNP initially planned to place her on the foreign exchange sales and trading desk, but her mentor at BNP realized she would benefit from exposure to different departments. So her internship was revised to include placements in three departments, including interest rates and credit structuring.
"It's worked out perfectly because my goal is to have as much exposure to the company and to different teams; it's a great opportunity to explore different options," says Matrosova, who is seizing on that opportunity.
"I try to find a new person every day and take them to coffee and shadow them for an hour to see what they do," she says. "It's amazing what you can learn."
The hiring firms are pleased, too, according to Linda Kreitzman, executive director of the Berkeley MFE Program. "Early feedback has been very positive about the quality of the students and their extraordinary performance," says Kreitzman.
The investment banking industry hired the most Berkeley MFE interns, at 41 percent of the 68 students in the program, while 23 percent are working in asset management. Nearly one third of students (30 percent) have positions in quantitative analysis, while 21 percent are working in sales and trading.
Morgan Stanley hired the most interns—seven in New York City and three in London. Three students also went to work for Goldman Sachs in New York, two are working for Facebook in Silicon Valley, and five are working for BlackRock in San Francisco.
"I'm loving it," Arshdeep Singh, MFE 14, says of his internship at BlackRock. "I had past experience in quantitative trading strategies at a bank but over here the environment is much more rigorous."
Singh, who majored in math and computer science at the Indian Institute of Technology, previously worked with currencies and enrolled in the MFE Program in part to increase his knowledge about other asset classes. He's doing that at BlackRock, where he is helping to develop systematic investment strategies focused on equities.