Undergraduate University: Northeastern University
Undergraduate Degree: BS in Finance
Q: Could you tell us about your background?
A: I was born in New York City but grew up in Shanghai, China. I completed my undergraduate degree at Northeastern, where I majored in finance and minored in business analytics. During that time, I did two co-ops, one working as a financial analyst and one in global benefits and partner services. I decided to pursue a master's degree in quantitative finance at Northeastern University to build my professional qualifications and gain more exposure to specific financial topics like risk management and coding that would help me stand out against other candidates in the field.
Q: What were you looking for when considering graduate programs? Why did you choose D'Amore-McKim?
A: I was looking for an accelerated program that would allow me to begin work immediately after graduation. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I knew I wanted to gain more experience in coding, so I was also looking for a STEM-based program to allow me to develop this additional skill. The MS in Quantitative Finance degree allowed me to pursue a variety of classes and determine the path I wanted to take in finance. It was an investment in my future. For me, Northeastern ticked all these boxes in addition to being a university centered in a student-friendly community where peers from all over the world surround you with unique perspectives.
Q: I hear you got an offer for an exciting job; can you tell me more about it? How has your degree prepared you for this role?
A: I knew I wanted to enter the risk management industry, so I was thrilled when I got an offer as a risk management analyst at American Express. American Express is an industry leader, and because they are both a card issuer and a card network, they have more information to leverage when performing risk management and data analytics. My courses contributed significantly to preparing me to start my career. The career management course really deepened my general business skills, and the quantitative finance courses truly built a foundation that will help me transition to my role quickly. My financial markets and banking class helped me learn a lot about risk management and the financial environment. This was particularly helpful because it gave me a lot of real-world examples I can apply when entering the risk management field after graduation.
Q: You do a lot of volunteer work for the community. Do you hope to tie your volunteer work with your degree and future professional ventures?
A: I began volunteering as an undergraduate student at Northeastern, teaching basic financial principles to students in the surrounding Boston areas through an organization called Finance for the Community. The goal was to help them understand the importance of money management. Both my undergraduate and graduate degrees allow me to continue to advise personal finances and provide support to the community. American Express is also very involved in community service, which is very important to me. I hope to continue more volunteer efforts and teach people how to manage their finances.
Q: What advice would you share with future students?
A: My main advice is for students to communicate and keep an open mind. I felt supported throughout my time at Northeastern because I was able to establish strong relationships with my professors and peers. I am grateful for this support because I wasn't initially planning on pursuing my master's, but after encouragement from those around me, I learned about this program and applied. Don't be afraid to ask professors for advice; they have many years of experience within the industry and can help you find your career direction. Lastly, I think it is essential for students to take advantage of all their resources, like professors, peers, and the Graduate Career Center. The career center is excellent for building your resumé, doing mock interviews, and preparing for job hunting.
“If you're an international student, [Northeastern] offers many ways to get involved on campus. But you must challenge yourself every day, stay open-minded, and be willing to step out of your comfort zone.”
“My quantitative finance degree has helped me gain so many skills, and I feel confident about applying what I've learned to real financial challenges.” says Vidita Agarwalla, MS in Finance'21
“While the current times are challenging, the industry will always be competitive, so giving up is not an option. It's really about putting in the effort and creating your own opportunities.”