It’s hard to believe but graduation is exactly one month away. And before we leave, a few words of advice for those of you about to embark on this wonderful adventure known as MIT Sloan MFin. Here are some pearls of wisdom from me and six of my classmates in answer to the question: What advice would you give incoming MFin students?
--In retrospect, I wish I had learned Matlab before the summer. Follow the news (i.e. The Economist and WSJ). Building up your resume is useful. Otherwise, I’d say go out and travel. The MFin program is such a sprint to the finish once you arrive that you should be well rested. Times goes by very fast at MIT Sloan.
--Take the time to learn what opportunities there are (e.g. conferences) and go to as many of them as you can. Keep a balanced work-life. Reflect on what interests you personally. Ask questions. Use the summer as a safe space to find out what your interests are and what you don’t know but need to develop. The faculty are there to guide you but not to hold your hand. Know that they are always dedicated to your success.
--It’s very easy to stay within the MIT Sloan Bubble and only take finance classes, but that is not advisable. In my opinion, you should go out and make associations with the rest of MIT whether that be by making friends with non-Sloan students who live in your dorm, joining other associations such as MIT-wide clubs, or going to lectures. (e.g. my dorm had a curator from the Museum of Fine Arts come and give a fascinating talk).
--As a non-quantitative econ major with a Chinese minor, I want to stress that having a stronger quantitative background would have made life much easier at MIT. Analytics of Finance is a very challenging, very rigorous course. Take the suggested preparation seriously.
--Get involved in life on campus. MIT offers countless opportunities outside of finance classes. Join clubs, try a new sport, take a course on main-campus, go to guest speeches, check out the campus start-up scene, etc. Also, don’t feel shy to reach out to MIT alumni – use MIT’s strong alumni network for career advice. The time on campus will fly by quickly –use your time to the fullest.
--I would advise incoming MFin candidates to be creative with the resources they utilize, more so on the job front than for coursework. However you choose to organize your information, make sure you start early and keep a record of the skills you learn, people you meet, databases you have access to, and companies you hear about. Never underestimate the zen and the ultimate payoff of organizational efficiency.
--It really helps to know how to work with big datasets before you get here, say in MATLAB, R, Python, etc. Problem sets, the research practicum, and the proseminar all required manipulating large datasets, and you will get a lot more out of the program if you have some exposure to this before you arrive.