Within the first semester at the ESSEC Asia-Pacific campus, Michel Verhasselt, Master in Finance (MiF) Student Ambassador and aspiring trader, found career success.

He has interned as a consultant for AI firm Selendis Technologies and earned an asset management internship at Schroders Investments.

The Belgian national tells us how he managed this and how ESSEC Asia-Pacific has brought him closer to his career goals.

Tell us what brought you to the MiF Program in Singapore.

I have experience in sales, and I thought I could combine the communication and people skills aspects with a technical background to move into private banking as a relationship manager.

I considered the Chartered Financial Analyst examination to achieve this, but I felt the MiF would be a broader approach and open doors to better jobs.

ESSEC first appealed to me because of its Singapore campus—I love learning about different cultures!

Also, the master’s is much less academic, with six months of study followed by six months of internship in the first year.

Why did they switch from aiming for private banking to trading?

I’ve been trading since I was 20, so I’ve always found it fascinating.

I didn’t consider trading at first because I thought it was unrealistic, as I didn’t have a quantitative background—I studied languages, not engineering or math.

However, having learned more about what finance jobs are like, I can have more confidence in my abilities to become a trader.

How did ESSEC help you learn more about what each finance job entailed?

Generally, MiF students have many opportunities to meet senior people from reputable organizations and learn from them.

There are alumni events at the MiF program where I met traders, for example, from BNP Paribas. I contacted them on LinkedIn and asked for coffee chats.

Speakers are also invited to share at ESSEC. For instance, we heard from the ex-CEO of Deutsche Bank, who explained his work experience in detail.

It’s tremendously beneficial, and I don’t know where else I’d be able to get such insights.

Also, when I interned at the Selendis, although I was doing business development, I could talk to more senior staff and gain insights into what it takes to become a hedge fund trader.

It’s impressive you’ve managed to secure two internships! Did ESSEC support you with the job search?

Yes. The first two weeks at the MiF program were exclusively about career training.

They had external speakers teach us practical things like approaching someone for a coffee chat.

We even had practical exercises in which we had 30 seconds to shake someone’s hand, introduce ourselves, and find a way to make the conversation interesting.

The idea was that you want people to remember you at networking events.

My CV is also completely different now—my pre-ESSEC CV looks amateurish.

So, I think I’ve learned much more in just one semester than my two years of work experience.

Looking back at your first semester, what’s your favorite part about being at ESSEC Asia-Pacific?

The people. People are fascinating; they come from different backgrounds, and everyone’s willing to help each other out.

I was concerned I might not fit in because I had a background studying languages instead of business or economics, but everyone has been amiable.

So, my favorite part has been meeting different people and being in an inclusive environment.