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Asia Finance Trek a success

Master of Finance student works with an MBA and the CDO on three-city trek.
Students on the Asia Finance trek proudly wear the trek's T-shirts.
Students on the Asia Finance trek proudly wear the trek's T-shirts.

Economic and financial forecasts indicate that the Asia Pacific region will continue to grow at a rate faster than that of the United States and Europe. MIT Sloan students interested in leveraging this growth for job opportunities had the chance to pursue both full-time employment and summer internships in the region as part of the Asia Finance Trek. The trek offered students the chance to meet representatives from financial firms across the investment banking, asset management, commercial banking and credit sectors.

The Career Development Office (CDO) co-sponsored the trek, along with the Asia Business Club. This year the trek was expanded to include company visits not only in Hong Kong, but also in Beijing and Singapore. This was the first time MSMS, MFin and MBA students went on the trip together — with a total of 39 students visiting companies in Hong Kong; 14 students in Beijing; and 12 students visiting financial firms in Singapore.

Huanhuan Zhang, MBA ’12, who helped organize the trek, encouraged all MIT Sloan students to think about pursuing work in Asia. She said that they do not need to speak Mandarin to do so — most people in the financial field in Asia speak English.

Due to the hard work of Huanhuan; Xin Wang, MFin ’11; Glenn Cunningham, MFin advisor; the Career Development Office (CDO); and Senior Lecturer John Minahan, the trip was a success with several students receiving both full-time job and internship offers.

“I think the best way to get to know people is to do a project with them. Helping organize this trek was a great way to meet Sloanies from different programs,” Huanhuan said.

Behind the scenes

During the fall semester, Cunningham spent a great deal of time planning events, contacting more than 50 companies, and reaching out to many alumni in the area. As a result, students had the opportunity to meet and hear from company representatives at China International Capital Corporation, Temasek Holdings, State Street Global Advisors, Nomura Holdings and Goldman Sachs-Hong Kong, to name just a few. Students also had several opportunities to network with alumni who work in the region.

“The Asia Finance Trek is one example of how the CDO can leverage MIT Sloan’s tremendous global relationships to create exciting programs and events for students. Financial institutions across multiple sectors hosted students for over 20 formal receptions and presentations,” Cunningham said. “Alumni in each city came out to help our students build their professional networks in Asia. We also created a trek resume book that was shared with companies before the trek, allowing students to set up individual meetings with firms while in the region.”

In Asia

“The first night in Hong Kong we had a kick-off dinner at a fancy club with Paul Yang, the head of CDIB Capital. He and his wife, Connie, are both MIT alumni. It was a very impressive night. We spoke with him about investment projects in China and Asia. We also had the opportunity to meet and speak with the CEO of Dah Sing Bank, David Wong. We later learned that it was his family that donated money for the Wong Auditorium in E51,” Wang said.

Wang said the schedule for the trek was very busy with students spending much of the day visiting several companies and then interviewing for three or four different positions. Students would then quickly head back to their hotel rooms to write thank-you notes and prepare for the next day’s interviews, all before attending dinner with another company. Due to the 16-hour days, there was no free time for sightseeing, she said.

Back on campus

After the trip, many MFin students returned to Cambridge to work on an intensive two-week Independent Activities Period (IAP) finance research practicum. Wang spent the two weeks conducting research in New York City for Baron Capital. Several MFin students were offered jobs or second interviews upon their return to campus.

Wang, who will graduate in June, is looking for a full-time job in the finance field. She said she may return to Asia, but is open to staying in the United States if the right position comes along. She will wait to see what job opportunities come from the trek.

After returning from the trek, Huanhuan was offered a summer internship at Barclays Capital working in the investment banking division. Several other MBA students were also offered summer internships.

“Hong Kong is a very international city. Many Americans work there — more so than in Europe. Asia is booming right now. MIT Sloan has a very good reputation there, so students should consider working in Asia. I believe our trip was a success in that there were many more job offers than last year. In addition, the CEO of CDIB was very impressed with the MIT Sloan students he met. He is now coming to recruit at the school for the very first time,” Wang noted.

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