‘We Need to Be Serious about Studying’
Lana Zakharova, ICEF 2013 graduate shared her impressions of studying for a Master’s at the Bendheim Centre for Finance, University of Princeton.
— Lana, when you applied for university why did you choose ICEF?
— There were two things that convinced me - first, I was attracted to economics and finance and the possibility of working in such a fast-moving environment and second, I wanted to get some international-standard academic and professional experience. I decided that ICEF would give me the skills and knowledge I would need to be successful in the sphere of investments and that the double diploma is a perfect opportunity to carry on studying and build a career anywhere in the world.
The first year was the hardest with so many new things to learn, a massive workload and a competitive atmosphere. The lectures and seminars were a very high standard, as our work was expected to be, and this helped me to grow a lot in terms of knowledge and in learning to organise myself.
— What differences did you notice in studying in the US?
— I would say that flexibility is one of the striking characteristics of their teaching programmes. Out of the 16 subjects which I had to study in two years only five were compulsory for all students. The rest you could pick and choose for yourself. Thanks to which I was able to create my timetable according to my own interests. For example, this semester I’m going to Alan Blinder’s lectures - he’s a former head of the Federal Reserve System - which is an amazing opportunity to learn first hand about the policies of central banks.
Otherwise the programme I’ve devised for myself is very like ICEF’s - extremely demanding, lots of new material, difficult homework and tough exams. But I’m really enjoying it.
— What were your first impressions of studying at Princeton?
— I was delighted. I was very happy to be in a new place among talented young people from all over the world. I was most impressed by how quickly we dived into the atmosphere of academia and the professional world of finance. Right from the start there were lots of events with representatives of famous companies and new subjects demanding a great deal of engagement.
— What do you think ICEF should take from the experience of leading foreign universities?
— I think that flexibility and variability in academic programmes is always a big plus. After ICEF I have lots of career choices available to me but each one requires a certain combination of skills. Some of ICEF’s additional courses could be elective so that students could make their own timetables to suit their own preferences without getting overloaded with work.
I would also emphasize how important it is to make professional contacts. On my course, we have regular seminars, discussions and informal meetings with Princeton graduates who are ready to tell us about their experiences and offer advice about how to prepare for a job interview. Events where we get to meet successful graduates could be a great help to ICEF students at the start of their careers.
This interview was conducted by Svetlana Nikiforova and edited by Nikita Krylnikov