internship talks: online edition

Given the success of Internship Talks organized by the Rotterdam chapter of the IFSA Network, we have decided to turn it online! Each edition of Internship Talks focuses on different fields of finance explained through the views of fellow students who have experienced these fields themselves.

interviews

Tina Nguyen

Wholesale Banking Intern at ING Bank

My name is Tina, and I am a 3rd-year Economics and Business Economics student at Erasmus School of Economics. I am Polish and Vietnamese (both my parents are originally from Vietnam). I decided to study in the Netherlands because the universities here offer great English-speaking programs and the country is quite close to Poland allowing me to visit my parents often.

 

How did you get into Finance?

During my 2nd year, my Finance course sparked my interest. Therefore, I chose to take a minor in Mergers and Acquisitions at RSM and to major in Financial Economics. During my time in Rotterdam, I have been involved with different student organizations: Eastern European Students Association (EESA), B&R Beurs, and EFR. For EESA, I am currently finishing up my board year as External Relations Officer.

 

Which firm(s) did you intern at? And why did you pick this field?

After participating in recruitment events on campus, I wanted to experience working in the finance/banking industry because it seemed like an ever-changing and fast-paced environment, which I was willing to take up the challenge. I am currently interning at ING in Amsterdam (working from home at the moment). For the past ten months, I have been part of the Trade Support Team of Financial Institutions – Trade Finance Services (FI TFS).

 

What were your main tasks and responsibilities? What was the most exciting? And what was the most challenging?

My team is responsible for covering the trade finance transactions in the emerging markets and advising risk appetite to internal and external clients. As an intern, I handle transaction requests, assist account managers and originators in deal preparation and execution, and advise other ING offices (local and abroad) on pricing and risk appetite. The most exciting part of my job is learning new technical skills as well as being able to have input into projects and future developments. The most challenging part is managing requests under time pressure since clients demand fast feedback.


 

What was the biggest surprise of the internship? And the biggest misconception?

The biggest surprise about my internship is how casual my colleagues are. Before starting, I had a perception that people were more formal and rigid in those types of organizations, but they are super chill and love to have a chit-chat from time to time. I find it cool that I could approach colleagues from other teams easily on the office floor, or just take a walk/metro to a different building.

 

What did you dislike about the internship?

Considering that it is my first internship, I do not have any negative aspects. The team has made my time so far enjoyable. Much to my surprise, I was given a lot of flexibility to continue taking classes at the university alongside the internship and pursue my interests such as my board year at EESA.

 

What would you say the most essential skills are and how were they tested during the application procedure?

The most essential skills are communication and attention to detail. You need to be cohesive and clear in your thoughts/messages because you are not only working with your colleagues but also in direct contact with clients. Since daily tasks can be demanding, you have to be able to diligently and quickly read through the requests and documents received and ensure that everything is in order.

 

What courses did you find relevant for your internship?

Given the field of my internship, it is hard to pinpoint a specific course. I think these following courses provide the foundation you will need to know to understand how Trade Finance works: Macroeconomics, International Economics, and Finance.

 

What’s your take on academic studies versus extracurriculars? And how did each prepare you for the internship?

The motivation and willingness to learn are what boils down in the end. I think it is important to have the right mindset and be able to showcase your personality and thought process through your answers to the interview questions. For the interview, I was not tested on my knowledge that I learned in class, but more on my problem-solving skills through the case studies. Therefore, my take is that you do need both academic studies and extracurriculars. Why? Education is there to prepare us with the knowledge and technical skills needed for the job market and extracurriculars help us develop soft skills such as time management and teamwork.

 

How did you end up at the firm? How did you network and where did you get started?

After attending recruitment events on campus and off-campus, I applied to some internships in the Netherlands and Poland. For ING, I went to their company presentation during Erasmus Recruitment Days and met their two trainees. Both trainees got me interested in working at the bank. During my internship search back in March 2019, I decided to apply for the internship through their career website.

 

What were the application steps? And how did you experience these?

As said, I applied for this internship through ING’s career website. After applying, a few weeks later I was invited to an interview with the Lead of FI TFS Trade Support Team (my current manager) and Originator. During the interview, I was given two case studies, which required me to find various solutions. I found it to be quite challenging because I had to come up with step-by-step solutions on spot and be able to guide my interviewers through my thought process. Two weeks after the interview, I received the call that I was offered the position.

 

In your opinion, what is the aspect where a lot of participant lack?

It depends on the situation. Different interviewers have different expectations. Hence, it is hard to say what the person exactly lacks at that moment. Interviewers often try to see if you ‘fit’ within their culture and organization based on your answers. It’s honestly a hit or miss.

 

What is your most vivid memory of the internship?

My most vivid memory from the internship is December. During that month, a lot of things happened. (1) My department relocated to another building, which required us to clean up our cupboards (I didn’t have much, but my other colleagues had a lot of stuff to move). (2) I received so many ING merch due to the move. (3) The fact that Christmas was approaching, the vibes were felt throughout the office floor. One colleague had “All I Want for Christmas Is You” as their ringtone – everyone had a good laugh whenever it went off.

 

What is the most valuable thing that you learned so far?

The most valuable thing that I have learned so far is to voice my ideas and thoughts. Even if I am just an intern, it is important that I do provide my feedback on the current processes and ways to improve. By bringing new ideas, I not only help kickstart new projects but also contribute to the development.

 

What would your final advice/tips be for students currently looking/applying for an internship in this field?

Considering that I applied as a 2nd-year student with no relevant experience to this internship, I think being able to stay motivated through the entire search is essential. In my case, I did receive rejections, but I did not let myself down. I continued to search for more opportunities that were available on online job posting boards. Eventually, it did pay off because of my perseverance. So, my advice is to definitely keep your head up.

Huy Huynh

Data Analyst Intern at EY Transaction Advisory Services

 

Can you give us a brief personal introduction about yourself?

My name is Huy and I am a 23-years old master’s student at Erasmus University Rotterdam. While my parents come from Vietnam, I myself was born and raised in Utrecht. It has been 4 years ago since I moved to Rotterdam where I started my studies in Econometrics and Operations Research. During this time, I have been active and closely involved in several faculty/student organizations including Faector and ESN. However, among my friends, I am known as the data geek, I can be socially awkward from time to time, and I find pleasure by solving die-hard mathematical equations. That being said, I like to seek out international experiences and enjoy interacting with international students on campus. Last year, I did an exchange at Toulouse School of Economics where I was able to further extend my knowledge and skills in economics and statistics. Hence with much interest in the field of marketing of Econometrics, I started my master’s in Business Analytics & Quantitive Marketing this year at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

 

Which firm(s) did you intern at? And why did you pick this field?

After obtaining my bachelor’s degree I decided that I found Data Science/Analytics interesting enough to continue with it. Therefore, I orientated a bit on the type of firm I wish to work for. After several recruitment events on campus, I found that the bigger firms –such as Deloitte and EY- appealed to me more. Similarly, if I could choose a professional soccer club to play for, then I would rather play for FC Barcelona (not Real Madrid) at the absolute top. The same goes for EY. This was due to the professionalism that the bigger firms showed: the bigger the better. In addition to that, I was also seeking for more international experiences, hence at multinational companies. Therefore, I applied for an internship at EY Transaction Advisory Services (EY TAS) for five months full-time from January to June 2020. In general, I liked it very much. However, due to the corona outbreak at the time of my internship, I was not able to interact with my colleagues as much as I hoped and was forced to continuing my work from home. Nevertheless, this has been a great experience for me and would love to work for them in the near future as well.

 

What were your main tasks and responsibilities? What was the most exciting? And what was the most challenging?

Interning at EY TAS has imparted me with critical thinking and analytical skills, providing me with greater knowledge and understanding of an international business explicitly relating to finance, modeling, and consultancy. I was handling valuable work ranging from developing analytical tools to supporting the team with dashboards and statistical analysis. During this time, I was given the independence to work on major projects regarding investment allocations and improving business performances, which later on, was built into a user-friendly tool for clients to use. Developing new analytical tools was definitely the most exciting part of my internship as I was able to use all my knowledge from my studies to put into practice. However, dealing with the technical difficulties that come with it as well as converting it into a user-friendly tool was quite challenging, but very educational nevertheless. I am very grateful to gain these valuable experiences which I elsewhere would not have gotten from studying alone.

 

What did a day in your life look like?

The loose atmosphere and the flexible work environment are things that I really liked while working for EY TAS group. On a regular day, I would arrive at around 9 am, grabbing a coffee with some colleagues, and have a small chit-chat before continuing my work. That being said, I really liked the fact that they were not strict regarding timetables. As I still had studies ongoing and some additional activities at university during that time, my supervisors gave me plenty of room for me to do these kinds of activities next to my full-time internship, given that it is not at the expense of my given tasks. Therefore, I could easily switch back-and-forth between university and EY office during the day allowing me to combine my internship with studies and university activities –which I am very grateful for that. As for the rest of the day, I would continue working till 5.30 pm to 6 pm given that I finish my tasks on time.

 

What was the biggest surprise of the internship? And the biggest misconception?

My biggest surprise of EY was that it was less formal and way more chill than I imagined. EY accountants and employees who used to be portrayed as a gray mouse has certainly made its way to a more social individual and incredibly fun to work with. Everyone interacts very informally with each other, joking around a lot, and are always up for a little chit-chat while maintaining their strong work ethics. In addition to that, there are a lot of external activities going on both in- and outside office hours ranging from small drinks to fancy dinners and ski-trips.

 

What did you find about the organization’s culture and your colleagues?

As mentioned before, the culture of EY TAS is very chill and a lot of fun. Fun fact: the vast majority are former graduates of EUR. Therefore, it was easier to break the ice -so to speak- and interact with each other as we already had a common ground to begin with. Moreover, EY TAS has quite an international environment surprisingly. Given that the Big-4 generally operates in Dutch, there are still a fair amount of non-dutch speakers around here at EY with whom you will work with a lot. All the more reason why I enjoyed being an intern here at EY TAS as I always have been actively involved in international student activities on campus and wish to seek out more international experiences.

 

What did you dislike about the internship?

Working for such a large international firm was quite overwhelming at first. As this was my first internship with little to no professional working experience, I had a hard time adjusting to the corporate’s rules and structure. For instance, I uploaded a dataset once to my Google Drive to work further on it at home –what could possibly go wrong here, right? Well, little did I know that the dataset consisted of private and confidential information of a client, and hence, I got accused of ‘data leaking’. Luckily, I got off with a small warning, but knowing that you have to pay a huge fine or even getting fired when doing so, it made me think twice before I uploading something ever again. Needless to say, everyone is very friendly and supportive and will always help you out when needed.

 

What would you say the most essential skills are?

As a Data Analyst (consultant) it goes without saying that you have to be good with numbers. From the very first interview here at EY TAS, I was tested on my modeling knowledge and programming skills, i.e. Machine Learning, regression models. With that in mind, it is absolutely important that you have experiences with open-source programming languages such as Python or R when applying for this field. Hardly any modernized firms use Matlab, EViews, SAS, or any other non-open source software nowadays. Hence, it is important that you are familiar with these open-source programming languages as you will be using them a lot in your future career.

 

What courses did you find relevant to your internship?

Despite none of the courses during my bachelor using open-source software, the following courses: Programming, Simulation, and Econometrics I & II, are your main fundamentals when carrying out advanced analysis and statistical modeling. In addition to that, doing research projects or writing scientific papers –such as thesis or majors- are incredibly valuable learning experiences that will be relevant for your internship. In fact, 80% of my interview they were questioning about my previous research projects, majors, and conducted thesis during my bachelor’s. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you put your past research projects, thesis, or any statistical models you are familiar with in your C.V. when applying for this field as they are valuable information for the recruiters.

 

What’s your take on academic studies versus extracurricular? And how did each prepare you for the internship?

At the end of the day, I believe that motivation, personality, and eagerness to learn are what matters the most when applying and making the right impression towards the company. Of course, education is important as well as having the necessary hard skills, but ultimately, it all depends on whether you fit within the company. Generally speaking, companies are seeking out for people who are flexible, disciplined, and consistent in everyday life. Therefore, extracurricular activities will definitely help you develop these characteristics, grow as a person, and increases your chances of success.

 

How did you end up at the firm? How did you network and where did you get started?

Before I started applying, I was actively participating in numerous recruitment events ranging from workshops and case studies to networking drinks and in-house days. It is important that you not only participate in events organized by your own faculty but also take part in events hosted by other student organizations as this allows you to establish a more broader and diverse network. That being said, I participated in EY’s in-house day hosted by CSA-EUR allowing me to have a talk with the employees and be more familiar with the culture of EY. As a result, during my application, I was able to make a reference to that in-house day showing that I already was genuinely interested EY. Thus, it is important that you come prepared when applying with examples or past experiences to motivate your interest in the respective company.

 

What were the application steps? And how did you experience these?

I applied for EY TAS at the beginning of October, starting with a preliminary phone call, an online assessment, and a personality questionnaire. Quickly afterward, I was invited for a first interview with the manager and recruiter. After a few more rounds of interviews with different managers & partners and a case-study in-between, I got a call from them in December that I got accepted and will be starting right away in January as a full-time intern. As I had little to no experience beforehand and my communication skills being lackluster, it was definitely a surprise for me that I got accepted for my very first application. Needless to say, it was very easy to make a connection with my managers as we already had a common ground with us both having a strong interest in data analytics.

 

In your opinion, what is the aspect where a lot of participants lack?

Determination. Honestly, I believe that those people who already know what they want to do, and have already set their mind towards it, have the most chances to succeed. A lot of students I know are still unsure what kind of work precisely they want to do after they graduate –which is perfectly understandable. However, keep in mind that this also brings insecurities and indecisiveness along with them resulting in a lack of motivation and interest when applying. Therefore, it is important that you gain valuable experiences both in- and outside your curriculum –i.e. attending career-related events around campus- and know what you want to be.

 

What would your final advice/tips be for students currently looking/applying for an internship in this field?

Grades are not all that matters. In fact, when I applied they have never questioned anything about my grades whatsoever. What is most valuable for them is your motivation, eagerness to learn, and preferably some experiences in the field you are applying for. Your degree alone is not sufficient. Of course, obtaining a master’s degree at Erasmus University Rotterdam is definitely something to be proud of. However, don’t wait till you graduate, but start now to gain new and valuable experiences that may be relevant for your future career path. In the field of Data Science/Analytics, I would recommend you to be actively involved in platforms such as Kaggle or StackOverflow, be more familiar with Machine Learning, and become proficient at one of the open-source programming languages if you haven’t done so yet. Remember, don’t count the days. Make the days count.

Kevin Boekholt

Venture Finance Intern at NLC

 

Can you give us a brief personal introduction about yourself?

Hi, I am Kevin Boekholt, currently a third year Econometrics student at the Erasmus School of Economics. I am Dutch (from my father’s side), but had my upbringing in Ecuador. I arrived to the Netherlands a few years ago when I turned 19, just before the start of university. I mostly decided to follow my studies in the Netherlands to explore more of the Dutch part of my heritage. Having been raised in a foreign country, this is something I never had been able to fully experience. Choosing Erasmus in specific was due to the fact that they offer the best studies in anything business-related in the Netherlands. As many other students, I did not really know what I wanted or what I liked when I arrived to university. But throughout the years, after being involved with various student associations (ECE Students, B&R Beurs, SKADI), I finally realized that my fit is within Finance. There are many things I like about it, but what I appreciate the most is the atmosphere of doggedness; we don’t seem to ever want to stop.

 

Which firm(s) did you intern at? And why did you pick this field?

I interned at NLC: The Healthtech Venture Builder at Amsterdam. My position was within the Venture Financing (VF) team where I worked for almost six months. You could tag my internship as in the field of venture capital (VC), but there are a couple of characteristics of NLC that make it diverge from an ordinary VC fund. You can visit their website (https://nlc.health/about-nlc/) to understand a bit better what they do.

 

What were your main tasks and responsibilities? What was the most exciting? And what was the biggest surprise of the internship?

My work in the VF team was quite varied. As an intern, you have to help with various minute tasks to support the work of the senior people in the team. The most exciting of these tasks, however, was to support the creation of a fund that would close at €2.2M. The objective of this fund was to bring pre-seed financing to 11 of the ventures in our portfolio. In specific, it fell to me to do some preliminary research on the structure of the fund that would serve as a template for the final legal entity. Moreover, it was up to me to design most of the pitch deck that we would send to people interested to invest in the fund.

The biggest surprise I got from the internship was how calmed and controlled everyone was. Even though our team was working overtime to get things moving quickly, no one seemed to be fazed about it. This is in stark contrast with what you experience at Erasmus or, at least, in my Econometrics study. You see many people worrying about so many things: their future, their studies, their grades, the exam, the assignment, the coffee that they drink and even the coffee that they don’t drink. And this is not needed. There is a false permeating belief that worrying will drive you to do more and to perform better. That worrying is the key to moving forward and achieving success. But, as unintuitive as it might sound, taking a step back to breathe can give your mind the room it needs to flourish. Without this headspace, you are guaranteed to miss the mark; you are running towards the target, but not paying attention to where the target actually is.

 

What did you dislike about the internship?

I didn’t like that there was barely any intellectual challenge. In contrast with what you get at university, the focus is a lot more on ‘executing’. This means that your chances for discovering and learning new concepts are quite restricted, and opportunities for creative work are also limited. However, it could be that this was due to me being an intern, and moving up the ladder would have opened possibilities to more substantive work. Or maybe it is due to the nature of the field: there does not seem to be a lot of ‘complicated’ things to uncover in Venture Capital. At its core, it’s about valuing companies and negotiating the right price to buy them. As an advice, if intellectual challenge is something you crave, you should be very mindful about the positions you apply for. Luckily, Finance is quite broad.

 

What would you say the most essential skills are?

Communication. You need to be able to make people understand your stance so that they understand your work. And you need to learn how to read people to understand what they expect from you. If you manage to get this right, the rest is quite simple.

 

What courses did you find relevant to your internship?

None. Although Econometrics was incredibly helpful in providing me a mathematical background to understand the numbers quickly, I do not believe this put me at great advantage. The tools I needed for the job, I learnt at the job.

This is not always the case, however. Some positions do need a strong understanding of your academic courses. A quantitative fund, for example, requires comprehensive statistical knowledge. And a tax advisory firm might require a serious grasp of the tax code of the country.

 

What’s your take on academic studies versus extracurriculars? And how did each prepare you for the internship?

I think you always need a combination of both. But how you decide on academic vs extracurriculars activities should align with your personality. Do you get more of a kick from getting good grades? Then focus on your studies a bit more; try to get into that Honours class. Do you like organizing events more, socializing with other people? Then try to get into a committee to organize something you find interesting. But always try to have a balance of both.

 

How did you end up at the firm? How did you network and where did you get started?

I applied to around 10 companies I found interesting. NLC was one of them. B&R Beurs was incredibly helpful to source around half of the opportunities. For the rest, I went to different internet job boards to find positions that would interest me.

 

In your opinion, what is the aspect that a lot of participants lack in the interview process?

Not enough confidence. You need to clearly demonstrate that you are able to do the job, even if you don’t know exactly how to. This is not lying or faking. As I said before, the specific tools you need at the job, you will mostly learn at the job. The interview is, therefore, not about showing that you know it all. Rather, it is for you to show enough confidence and understanding of the position so that your interviewer can trust you will do a good job.

 

What is your most vivid memory of the internship?

Drinking champagne with our team once we closed the fund at €2.2M. We did it on the first days of January, so it was a great way to start the year.

 

What is the most valuable thing that you learned?

My powerpoint and excel skills are now on point. 😉

 

What would your advice/tips be for students currently looking/applying for an internship?

Think carefully about the things you like and what type of personality you have. Then find a position that suits that. Your chances of getting the internship will be a lot higher since (1) the interviewers will like you a lot more (you ‘fit’ the culture) and (2) your final choice of internship positions will be much smaller, allowing you to put more work into each application. But don’t make the mistake of only applying to just one or two positions, you would be playing too much with your odds in that scenario.

 

Olivier Mulkin

Intern Analyst at EURONEXT & Quant Intern at ABN AMRO

As financial securities are becoming increasingly complex, the demand has grown steadily for quantitative specialists (quants) that are able to understand complex mathematical models and enhance them to generate profits and reduce risk.

 

Can you give us a brief personal introduction about yourself?

I am a 23-years old master’s student at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. I was born and raised in Liège, Belgium and I moved to Maastricht when I was 18 to study Econometrics and Operations Research at the bachelor level. Back in those days, that choice was driven by my desire to become a trader, even though I barely knew anything about what it meant to be a trader, or to work in the financial industry. It is only through company visits and financial courses that I found out more about it later. During my exchange in Singapore, I did a major in Finance which pushed me to continue with a master’s in quantitative finance at EUR and to seek internship in that field.

 

Which firm(s) did you intern at? And why did you pick this field?

I wanted to keep as many doors as possible open, so I applied to both IB and quants types of internship. Faced with countless rejections, the only interview invitation I received was for a 6-months internship in the listing team of Euronext, from April to August 2019. The job mainly consisted of creating PowerPoint pitches for diverse purposes and I realised that I really missed the quantitative aspect. Regardless, there was some valuable aspect about it and more importantly, I could leverage my new experience to get an internship that better fitted my interests.

During my last month at Euronext, after many applications at various firms, I was invited to interview at ABN AMRO for a quant internship at the XVA Desk after applying through Linkedin. The XVA desks is mainly responsible with the pricing of risks in interest rate derivatives (mostly swaps). The term XVA refers to the Value Adjustment attached to certain trades to account for risks such as client Credit risk (CVA), client/dealer Funding risks (FVA), or the credit risk seen from the dealer (called DVA, for debt value adjustments). In the face of mounting regulations, these activities are increasingly becoming central in the trading floors of banks, and most likely any front-office quant job will entail interacting a lot with XVA. I was luckily offered the job, which took place on the trading floor of the Amsterdam office and I worked there for 4 months. After my internship, I would eventually have to resume my studies as I still had to write my thesis. I knew the Quants desk at ABN AMRO offered thesis internships as well, and since I was working a few meters away, all I had to do was ask. So I was offered a second internship at the Quants, where I am writing my thesis now on interest rate models.

 

What were your main tasks and responsibilities? What was the most exciting? And what was the most challenging?

At the XVA Desk, the internship was sort of split in two parts. On the one hand, I was given resources and assignments (excel/python) to learn more about the business unit, the activities of the Global Markets and the products that they trade. Like I said, most of the activity is centered on swaps and derivatives on swaps (caps, floors, swaptions). These are conceptually challenging to understand, to price and to trade and take a lot of time and practice to thoroughly understand. This aspect is probably the most exciting to me, as you constantly have to think and reason when working with these products, or for example, writing code that deals with those. At some point, one of the most senior trader came to my desk every day for 2 or 3 hours for an entire week and walked me through an assignment to price and understand swaps from scratch. This was probably my favourite part, as I had the chance, as an intern, to be given a lot of attention from really experience people. And that’s the beauty of working on a trading floor: you are surrounded by really experienced professionals of all background, rockstar traders from the heydays of ABN AMRO or quants with PhDs who wrote and published many papers.

In the second part of the internship, I had a few practical projects for my supervisor and the team. They didn’t really have anything to do with XVA so to speak. It was mostly automating processes to help the team in their daily routine. The main one was to develop a GUI (Graphical User Interface) for a trade-compression app that the traders were using. They already had a version of that, but the code was not maintained and often had bugs. It also lacked documentation and other features that my teammates wanted to see implemented. It was great to see how my work was being directly used, and these projects were both valuable to me and to the team. Doing good in these projects was very important, as later on, a good impression on the head of the team and other members encouraged them to put in a good word for me at the Quants, where I was trying to get a thesis internship.

 

What did a day in your life look like?

I would arrive at 8 am in the office and read up on the news (it’s always nice to be aware of what’s going on in the markets as it gives you something to talk about if you want to approach the traders and talking to other employees makes a good impression). My supervisor was always busy in the morning, so I’d simply continue the work from the day before till about 11am. Then, I’d often have a brief ‘meeting’ at my desk with my supervisor to talk about what I’m working on, the directions that I’m taking. He was always sitting next to me so I could continuously update him or reach out when I needed help. At 12pm I’d have lunch with one or colleagues (again, it’s important for the managers to see that I was interacting with different people) for 30 minutes to an hour. I would then continue with my tasks till 5pm with some (coffee) breaks in between. Most days when time allowed it, we’d play table football with the seniors of the team and some guys from sales (So grateful for that). We played for about 30 minutes and then resume to work till 6.30pm to 7pm. The culture of ABN AMRO is a lot of fun. It’s very relax if you deliver on your tasks, and you show eagerness in your work. The people are fun to be around, they laugh a lot and are always happy to have a conversation with you.

 

What was the biggest surprise of the internship? And the biggest misconception?

I didn’t expect so much collaboration within my own team and with other teams. The first project was given was continuing a liquidity pricer developed for the equity traders. And it was done by a trainee who worked at the Quants, a rate trader and two guys from the Atlas Desk (They do cloud migration, data visualization dashboard, and other stuff that includes machine learning and data treatment). So when I took on that project, I had a lot of interaction with these people and not so much with my own team. Another example was an assignment where I had to build a bootstrapper in python, that estimated the probability of survival of a counterparty using CDS quotes of that counterparty. And for this assignment I was supervised by another guy from my team who worked at the Quants before. Let me put it this way, he’s a programming Guru and I’ve learned so much from him.

At the end of the day, one way or another, anybody can learn the stuff that you will have to do in your career. But the people who supervised and interacted with me at ABN AMRO are what made this internship so special and I’m happy to say that today, I consider them my friends.

 

What did you dislike about the internship?

I know this is a disappointing answer but there were no negative aspects about this internship. None. I was given importance. I was properly supervised, and I had plenty of resources to learn. The team gave me flexibility and freedom. I could work 4 days a week and had one day to focus on school and go to class.

Now that I think of it, the two seniors in my team are unbeatable at table soccer. I did lose 10-0 once, and well… You probably know what happened next.

 

What would you say the most essential skills are and how were they tested during the application procedure?

I was tested on financial knowledge during the interview (Black Scholes, Put-parity, derive the the 1 year forward rate starting in 2 years if you’re given the 1 and 3 year interest rates). But most of the interview was on my background and motivation. You need to know some programming (Python preferred) to complete the tasks and obviously, an interest in finance and markets helps to justify why you want to work in a bank.

 

What courses did you find relevant for your internship?

Programming was important. Financial derivatives (master course centered on option pricing) is also relevant. The most important was to research the position I was applying to (But as we, humans, make mistakes, I didn’t research XVA before the interview and I regret not being able to explain why I hadn’t done so. So do your homework before an interview!).

 

What’s your take on academic studies versus extracurriculars? And how did each prepare you for the internship?

It’s about motivation in the end. You want the job for the right reasons and that’s what, I think, made the difference at the interviews. Your education is just a way to help equip you with the right skills for the job, but like I said, I wasn’t tested that much on that. Extracurricular activities weren’t relevant for that job either, it just helps to show that you’re consistent in your life choices and decisions.

 

In your opinion, what is the aspect where a lot of participant lack?

There are a lot of different teams at ABN AMRO, and every manager has a different personality, which also means that the people they seek to hire aren’t all a good fit for all the teams. My manager didn’t care about grades or experience so much, he cared 200% about personality and motivation. The quants however care more about academic achievements and grades. There is no one-size fits all, and that’s something I didn’t realize before as well.

 

What would your final advice/tips be for students currently looking/applying for an internship in this field?

I started my studies with terrible grades. I entered my masters without any professional experience or extra-curricular activities (and I was facing only rejections from both job applications and student association committee applications). Odds looked terrible for me and I was hopeless. I decided to take more time for my masters (two years instead of one) and to focus on my lacunas. Some 1.5 years later, I have 3 internships experience, I work as a university research assistant for 7 months, my grades are up and I’m on track to graduate with distinction, I also became part of The Quant Conference in London and New York and a member of the university investment club. Nothing came easy, I had to work a full-time job, a part-time job and continue my masters (I’d study in the evenings and weekends) while working on the Conference.

There is always a way to achieve your goals if you put in sweat and tears (Take my word for it on this one). If I can give an advice that I live by every day, it’s this one: Let yourself be contended, but never let yourself be satisfied. In other words, always work to become a better version of yourself.