How to carve out a high-flying career in investment banking in the United States? University of Macau (UM) alumna Du Yuchen, who works in risk management at UBS in New York, shares with My UM some important skills you’ll need for career success in investment firms in the US.

Landing a Dream Job in Wall Street

In her first year at UM, Du already made up her mind to pursue a career in the financial industry. She reasoned that completing a postgraduate degree in the US would take her one step closer to that goal. After completing her bachelor’s degree at UM in 2016, she got admitted to the University of Connecticut (UConn) for a master’s degree in financial risk management. After graduation, she performed her first internship in the risk management field at Standard Chartered Bank in New York. Later, she joined Morgan Stanley and then landed her current position in the UBS.

When Du was beginning her life in the US, she had to adapt to a new environment where she found huge cultural differences in daily life and study. However, while coping with intensive and challenging coursework, Du managed to lay a solid foundation for her career. She went the extra mile by developing her alumni network through messages on LinkedIn. After countless trials and errors, she managed to have meaningful conversations with a dozen of them. To her pleasant surprise, one of the alumni recommended her for an internship at a multinational bank, where she kicked off her financial career in the US. ‘I had to gather up all my courage to make every single cold email and cold call, and I was so excited to receive any response. You must overcome your fear of rejection, prove your passion, show your career plan, and remember that from every failure there’s always something to learn,’ she says.

As an intern, Du got up at 5:00am to catch the 6 o’clock train, so that she could arrive in her office in Manhattan at 7:00am, which was two hours earlier than most of her colleagues. Du did that because she wanted to join the morning meetings on the trading floor, where traders from different product desks summarised news from Asian and European markets and planned major deals on the day. Her hard work finally led her to another full-time opportunity, as supported by her supervisor’s recommendation. ‘I was impressed by such a committed and diligent junior person,’ her former supervisor said to her, ‘I believe you have great passion and curiosity for the job you have been working for.’

Growth at UM

Du says that studying at UM was her most unforgettable and precious experience in life so far, adding that she acquired many important soft skills when studying and living in the Henry Fok Pearl Jubilee College (HFPJC). ‘As a resident assistant in my college, I had many opportunities to engage with students who held different perspectives,’ she says, ‘I got to step out of my comfort zone, and I learned to be proactive and thoughtful. Later on, I realised that my college was the epitome of the workplace, where I’m not afraid to make friends with coworkers. We appreciate each other’s cultures and communicate effectively to resolve conflicts.’

In her senior year, Du volunteered to participate in decision sciences projects led by professors in the university’s Faculty of Business Administration. ‘It was the first time that I had a supervisor, who encouraged me to learn about things beyond my textbooks,’ she says. ‘The supervisor provided me with topics and resources. Then I dug deeper into the topics and brought back my findings to discuss with the research group. That experience greatly enhanced my independent learning skills.’ Du was also an active member of the UM Symphonic Band and the UM Service Learning Programme. ‘I’m so grateful for all these experiences at UM,’ she says. ‘Through the UM Service Learning Programme, I visited some of Macao’s community facilities such as nursing homes. I went there with my team to organise activities for the elderly. These experiences instilled the value of service in me and reminded me to help those in need.’

Gaining an Edge Through Independent Learning

Earlier, Du was invited by HFPJC to share her postgraduate and work experience with UM students. During the sharing session, she pointed out that undergraduate GPA and English test scores are major criteria that most graduate schools look at when evaluating their applicants. During her interview with My UM via WeChat, she further suggests, ‘Besides achieving and maintaining good grades, advance yourself by learning some data analysis and programming skills, such as SQL and Python, will give you a competitive edge in postgraduate studies and in job hunting.’

For fresh graduates about to join the workforce, Du stresses the importance of interpersonal communication skills and a can-do attitude. ‘As a young person, you don’t lose anything by learning as much as possible. You can make yourself shine even in small tasks. By keeping this attitude, sooner or later you will be proud of your professional growth,’ she says, ‘I hope my fellow UM students will keep their minds open to various opportunities, face challenges with a positive attitude, and be resilient through the ups and downs in their lives.’ This is not just her advice for young students, but also what she has been practising in her own life.

Source: My UM