• ESSEC Master in Finance graduates secure jobs despite the pandemic.
  • Comprehensive career services workshops prepare them for the competitive job application process.
  • ESSEC lessons and networks continue to help in the future.

Questions like  “Tell us why you want to work here?” may seem like a basic and straightforward starting question for any interview—but ask anyone from the ESSEC Master in Finance (MiF), and they are quick to caution that it is not as easy to answer as one might think.

“When 1,000 people are answering the same question as you, what you say needs to have an impact,” Matthieu Oro declares from the class of 2020. “The finance sector is very competitive, and firms receive thousands of applications, so the slightest lack of preparation can make a difference.”

Furthermore, preparation differs depending on when you apply for an internship, Mickaël Touitou, who graduated in 2021, chimes in. For example, while summer internships focus on behavioral questions, off-cycle internships test candidates heavily on their technical knowledge, he says.

The conviction in their statements is not unfounded. Both entered the job market with the pandemic, adding another layer of uncertainty to the already competitive job search.

Yet where many may grow disheartened, they have emerged triumphant: Matthieu is an investment banking analyst at Rothschild & Co, and Mickaël works on the trading floor handling equity structured product sales at Goldman Sachs.

A Career-Focused Approach to Training

The two concur that their success is partly because the MiF program views the competitive job search as integral to its education.

The school regularly organizes talks from finance professionals. Beyond offering an avenue to network, these talks allow students to gain insights about different companies, industry trends, and the day-to-day life in each role—a huge benefit for those uncertain about which path to take.

Career coaching is also woven into the program curriculum. Through a partnership with training providers, AlumnEye, all MiF students are taught to understand the recruitment processes for the spectrum of finance roles in areas like investment banking, sales and trading, and more.

Significantly, this training occurs at the start of one’s MiF journey, so students are given a head start in the job search process.

“I had no idea it could be this complicated or involve so many steps,” Mickaël candidly shares. As someone with an engineering background, he found the workshops pivotal in helping him understand what to expect and how to draft his cover letter and resume.

Even Matthieu, who had done a banking apprenticeship before joining ESSEC, found much to gain. He says that getting personalized feedback helped him improve his resume, and the mock interviews he participated in enlightened him about the kinds of questions that would be asked, the standard answers given, and how to make his responses stand out.

Knowledge and Networks for The Future of Finance

The gains continue even in the working world. “The curriculum is adapted to the market expectations of companies, and when you start work, you will realize what you are doing matches what you have learned,” Matthieu says.

Having lecturers who are also industry professionals also means that students learn more than textbook theories—they also pick up valuable tips that one must have been in the industry to know, Mickaël adds, crediting Associate Academic Director Peng Xu as one of the inspirational teachers whose encouragement and advice he carries with him even today.

But the icing on the cake? To be able to complete the MiF program in Singapore.

“It allowed me to grow because I had spent most of my life in France. I got opportunities to travel and became more open-minded as I met new people with fascinating points of view,” Mickaël recalls.

Matthieu echoes these sentiments, adding that despite the pandemic, the ESSEC campus experience manager went above and beyond to curate exciting activities for the students to bond and explore the city.

His advice to potential MiF students is this: “Enjoy the experience at the Singapore campus, which is a must-try!”