“ICEF students gain access to excellent job opportunities long before graduation”
Alexander Nosov, who is in his second year of Master's in Financial Economics programme, shares what he likes most about his studies, what career networking opportunities are available at ICEF, what makes summer internships a useful experience, and what secrets are unveiled by the alumni when they meet students.
Why ICEF student community is special
When I was in my first year, I remember our academic supervisor, Maxim Nikitin, talk about the importance of teamwork skills. He said that working well in a team – with a group of students or in the workplace – meant to achieve an outcome in a truly rewarding way, the way that leads to the ability to negotiate and persuade effectively as a key contributor to success.
As ICEF students, we found that we shared common interests and goals since the very beginning. It is important for us to give and receive constructive feedback, for example, when we work together on a PowerPoint presentation – and that is with ICEF students being highly ambitious and eager to make the most of their studies. There is a climate of amity that goes hand in hand with mutual trust and motivation. This makes us a truly unique student community.
We have a keen interest in a variety of fields, and many of us achieve the understanding of the ins and outs of the industry long before graduation. While some of us are interested in IB, others see themselves working in consulting, and many of us already have the experience of working for the Big Three that they can share freely with anyone interested. Also, we have among us students who want to be quants, who are highly proficient in mathematics and programming and seek to apply their skills in finance.
Being part of a student community as diverse as ICEF’s is an inspiring experience and a learning driver
At ICEF, there are bound to be people who will want to share your interests. By this I mean also professional networking. Despite coronavirus restrictions and obvious job search difficulties, I can’t say we feel we are stuck. And because we are cooperating closely with alumni, some of whom now hold senior positions in international companies, we find ourselves at an advantage when it comes to job vacancies, internships, references, and dealing with HR people.
In my first year, I took an elective course in Mergers and Acquisitions. It consisted for the most part of case study analysis and solutions. Our group were divided into teams and, curiously, we were in no way affected by having to move online. Nor does our teamwork suffer in Financial Economics course. We continue to meet in Zoom room every evening to jointly work on the solutions to the complex cases. This mode of work is useful not only in terms of knowledge, it allows to practice skills that facilitate personal growth.
Teamwork skills are what we practice also when doing group projects on econometrics. An important part of our work is final project presentation, which is a great way to improve public speaking skills – an asset which is critical to careers in multinationals and forms part of the essential skillbox.
Why soft skills are important to employers
When entering the workplace, students tend to emphasize their hard skills – the specific abilities they have gained from a well-established school, like model-building abilities or computing skills, or Python developer skills. But it’s also necessary to be prepared to interact with others in the workplace, be able to get your message across, enter into a discussion, find a compromise, and provide feedback. These are exactly the soft skills that our group projects are meant to cultivate. Being able to act as a team player and get your team to work together is a precious gift that will definitely help you to achieve success on the job.
Master’s in Financial Economics is a uniquely designed two-year programme launched in 2007 through a collaborative effort with The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Since 2017, the programme offers a double-degree track with LUISS, a leading private university in Italy. The HSE ICEF teaching staff and research team hold PhD degrees from the world’s top-ranking universities. Among our invited lecturers are also experts based in Russia (Sberbank, Gazprombank, KPMG, Deloitte, BCS, to name a few).
The programme is intended for BSc or equivalent degree holders. It unfolds through a curriculum that concentrates on economics and quantitative courses and has advanced mathematics and statistics as two core courses for entire year. Its well-balanced blend of applied and academic courses is designed to help learners build careers in private sector or continue their studies as PhD students at top-ranking western schools such as LSE, Oxford, MIT, Cambridge, University of California, Berkeley, Imperial College, Bocconi University.
How ICEF helps its students enter the workplace
ICEF Master’s Programme provides students with access to a closed career services group, where they can see jobs, that are available also abroad, and positions that are offered by ICEF alumni. Many of the alumni who have worked their way up to manager positions would like to see ICEF graduates as members of their own teams because they trust this education.
ICEF is known to employers all over the world as a brand for quality education
ICEF maintains an extensive community of alumni, who are currently employed in different sectors of economics and finance, including also academic tracks and entrepreneurship. Together with the international status of education, this offers students excellent career opportunities before graduation.
Helpful guidance is provided by ICEF Career Services. Its team advise students on a wide range of issues that span resume writing, possible career paths, employer-specific requirements, let alone networking and face-to-face meetings with employers. They also help us find relevant internships and keep us posted on job opportunities.
Thanks to ICEF Career Services’ cooperation with practicing investment analysts, students had the opportunity to do joint research with BCS Global Markets, which has been an amazing experience for me personally. That research was covered by Bloomberg and earned us internship credits.
Internships can actually be undertaken in the summer after the first year of studies. Students tend to choose to do internships in consulting, IB or FMCG. If your field of interest is academia, one place to intern is the university lab where students can choose supervisors to suit their research interests from finance to macroeconomics. For many of us, the internship marks the start of a career: it comes as an opportunity to prove yourselves and to secure a job before we graduate.
How alumni help their alma mater
When ICEF invites alumni to share their professional insights, we see it as an opportunity to meet people with first-hand experience of monetizing their knowledge. It’s useful to know about the roads that lie ahead, with their challenges and obstacles, because it can give clues as to how to avoid mistakes. We already know about some nuances of moving up the career ladder. But along with the nuances of particular jobs and industries, the alumni share their visions and we can clearly see that they were just like us when they were starting. This means that we stand every chance of making it to the top as well.
The alumni are very open to communicate with us and can prompt directions to follow. Some act as mentors under ICEF Mentoring Programme. How to match mentees with the right mentor? Describe what you expect from being mentored, what your interests are, the personal qualities you expect your mentor to have, and based on this the programme will select a mentor who aligns with your interests best.
This was how I was able to get a detailed summary of what is currently happening on the job market, which industries have shortage of manpower and where to look for jobs and even expect quick career progress. If it weren’t for our mentors, we would have to spend countless hours searching for this information on our own. And what it more, communicating with your mentor is a pleasant experience in itself. It leaves you feeling supported and positively charged.
The alumni who have influenced me personally are Kirill Klimov, a quantitative analyst at VTB, and Artem Poteshkin, Vice President at Moelis & Company in London. They were wonderful to work with, answering my endless questions with patience and explaining to me, in a very frank and detailed manner, all the ins and out of their duties, candidate requirements and subtleties of good performance. I don’t know who else could be as helpful as them. Everything seems to have an influence when you are working abroad, even your housing conditions. And things like culturally specific patterns of communication seem to be considered in the first place when you are an ICEF graduate with a multitude of opportunities on international job markets.