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Case study: connecting students with industry - can you benefit?

15 March 2015

Case study:  connecting students with industry - can you benefit?

I remember the spring of 1984, as I was about to finish my MBA in Toronto. It was then I met the most important person at the business school. She was not the Dean nor a professor, she was the Head of student placements. She was passionate about her job and for motivated students she would work endlessly to help them find a job on graduation; she knew how important that "first step" was to get someone on a good career path. Thanks in part to her efforts, I spent 25 years working in the financial industry and enjoyed it immensely. Ten years ago I moved to university teaching and now it is my turn to help our young students start their career.

Having moved to China just over a year ago and working at a relatively young business school, it has given me the opportunity to look at things from a new angle and consider new approaches. Older business schools have a more well-known "brand" but working somewhere new, that is open to new ideas and "ways of doing business", is something I enjoy. I am running an MSc Investment Management, which has been recognised by CFA Institute (similar to my previous university) but have developed the programme in a much different way to also emphasise applied training (in addition to the academic teaching) and making internships and a related industry project a core part of the learning experience. The model has four steps:

1. Post graduate academic teaching in all areas related to finance and financial markets (in parallel with CFA Level I study)

2. Additional Learning Activities (ALAs) that are highly applied training in specialised areas related to FX, bonds, equities, commodities, securities operations management and other asset classes carried out in our Financial Lab.

3. Internships at financial institutions for a period of five weeks in either early spring or summer.

4. An in-depth industry project that pulls together the first three elements.

We are very fortunate to have a corporate partnership with Thomson Reuters China and have built the first, at a university in China, Financial Lab and Trading Floor making current industry technology core to our learning methodology. With our partner and other financial organisations in Shanghai we have gotten every candidate on the MSc IM this year an internship in Shanghai. This will allow us to ensure all our current students get the benefit of "all four stages" in the learning model.

So far this must sound like an advertisement but that is not my intention. Rather, this is reaching out to persons in industry that have connected with me on Linked-In to see if this post graduate university educational model could be of benefit to your organisation. As our student numbers grow we will be required to find new corporate relationships to provide us with all the internships we need to support a growing degree. Also, internships to date have been in Shanghai. Our students are becoming more international, from South East Asia and slowly Europe and Americas. We need to build our relationships with entities in these other geographic regions to provide work experience (either internships or graduate employment) in those regions. And perhaps some of you are in locations where well qualified graduates are in short supply. And, for IBSS as a whole, it is not just financial markets that I specialise in but also accounting, economics, operations and supply chain, etc. that we have new students in.

In Conclusion Linked-In has proven to be a great medium for all of us to expand our boundaries. If you are a business that is looking for new, talented internships or graduates then please reach out to me. Hopefully, we can do for today's graduates what my alma mater did for me in 1984.  (John D. Evans CFA is also the Programme Director for the MSc Investment Management at IBSS in China). 

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