Management & Finance: Student Testimonials

Harshil Dhanky

Specialist: Management - Finance Co-op

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?

Growing up in a household with bankers on one side and accountants on another, business was a pretty easy choice to make. However, once I got here, I realized that I enjoyed finance slightly more because of the immense array of potential fields you can work in. Within banking, you have several facets like investment and corporate banking, equity research, trading, asset management etc. But even outside of banking, finance can involve corporate finance and financial analysis roles at companies in the industry. Ultimately, finance is a lucrative, challenging and meritocratic career that rewards effort and intelligence and provides you with an unparalleled skillset in quantitative arenas and decision making. With UTSC, you have the further advantage of being in a co-op program which allows you to test the waters with several different types of finance co-ops before you enter a full time role.
 
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?

The Management program starts similarly for all fields regardless of whether you want to specialize in finance or marketing or accounting or any other major. In the first two years, you will be given a deep dive into a breadth of courses spanning all areas of modern business including accounting, marketing, HR and more quantitative courses like calculus and statistics. Once you get through the first two years, you can choose to specialize in finance and that's where your specialized finance courses start to take shape. In your last two years, to leave UTSC with a finance degree, you will have to take two mandatory finance courses (Investments and Derivatives), but then are offered a choice between several other upper year finance courses. These include Mergers & Acquisitions, Private Equity, Risk Management, Investors' Psychology etc. Arguably, the highlight of this program is the co-op aspect. Once you have taken the relevant courses, you can pursue co-ops in finance fields that interest you. Past co-ops have worked at large banks, pension funds, hedge funds, and other institutional houses as well as Fortune 500 firms (think Unilever, P&G, Johnson & Johnson etc.) Overall, while the program certainly is academically rigorous, if you have an aptitude for finance, you will walk out of UTSC with sound fundamental knowledge of finance concepts and a resume glittering with top names of the industry.
 
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)? 

1) The three main qualities that finance professionals look for in young graduates are the three Hs (humble, hungry and hardworking). In all your interviews, your main aim should be to show these qualities. Project an eagerness to learn (hunger), act with humility at all times i.e. always remember there is someone smarter than you (humble) and do not get fazed by the prospect of long hours or intensive work environments (hardworking).
2) Get involved in relevant activities: The university has one of the biggest Finance Labs in all of North America with software that you would see at top investment banks and funds. Leverage that and use it to your advantage to get a head start over your peers in other universities. There is also a newly initiated Student Managed Fund, which provides students with capital to invest as part of a team in the equity markets. The training that you receive in that is as comparable as it gets to the real world in a university setting. Being involved in the right places can provide your career with the impetus it needs.
3) Work to develop your skillset outside of class: While the classroom will teach you most of the fundamental concepts you need to succeed, it is up to you to teach yourself the job-specific skills that employers are looking for. For example, if you want to pursue investment banking, the classroom will teach you how to theoretically make a valuation model. However, without practice, you will never be able to apply it yourself. Absorb the classroom knowledge, but take the initiative to do your own work or participate in case competitions which provide an outlet for what you learned.
 
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)

Future plans involve possibly an MBA, but a CFA in the near term. However, on the career side, after pursuing co-ops in asset management and risk management, I would ideally like to pursue a corporate strategy/development role or a role in the capital markets to further refine my skillset constructed over the last 4 years.
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?

First year: It was a challenging year as I juggled the transition from high school with some rigorous coursework in economics, accounting and calculus. However, getting through that initial hurdle will provide you with a can-do attitude, a peerless work ethic and several friendships that will likely last all four years of university.
Second year: While course load and difficulty stays the same, you become smarter and more adapted to the UTSC style and therefore, your study habits become more efficient. At the end of second year, I started seeking for my first ever co-op and was lucky to land a role in investment management with a Calgary based investment firm.
Third year: Honestly, it passed by in a blur as I became more and more involved on campus. However, this was when I started taking upper year finance courses and a lot of the concepts that I had previously learned about in co-op and while watching the news became a lot clearer. Third year is the year you really start to understand why things happen when they happen.
Fourth year: Rounding off my co-ops with the asset management arm of a large Canadian bank was a highlight as this was possibly my first co-op where I could add value to the business in equal measure as I extracted it. Your courses, while still challenging provide you with the skillsets you need to succeed and your past experience really comes into play here. The world around you suddenly starts to make more sense and you will learn to critically analyze every decision by politicians and company managements. It is the culmination of your journey at UTSC and the bridge between the theoretical knowledge you gained in the first three years and the practical applications that your co-ops provided you.

Amy Shen

Specialist: Management - Finance Co-op

 

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
 
I have always had a passion for interacting with people and making connections, and math was my strong suit in grade school. I figured that business would offer me a natural marriage of these two aspects of my life. I chose this program because it’s different specialization streams offered me the learning opportunities I was looking for, and the hands-on co-op experience that would provide guidance for my career in the future. I knew that the variety of courses available for me to take meant that I would be able to test out each aspect of business, and choose the specialist I liked the most. With courses in marketing, finance, HR, and accounting, the management program gave me a full view of what the business world is really like.
 
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?
 
Apart from the purely academic aspect of the program, being in business management also meant that I had the opportunity to practice my networking, critical thinking, and collaboration skills. There are always business competitions or networking sessions that the business clubs host, allowing me to really feel involved in my school community whilst exercising my soft skills. The staff that works in the co-op offices and the Academic Advising and Career and Centre are super helpful. They are there to express their support for my success and I know I can always turn to them for advice. Another thing I really appreciate about my program is how much they prepared me for the co-op placement seeking process. There were resume blitzes to help improve my resume, they hosted networking sessions with older students to get a better idea of what the seeking process was like, and one-on-one mock interview training that really helped me during actual interviews with employers. The classes in this program are relatively small, and most of the business courses are all in the same building. This means that you really get to know all your classmates and professors as you see them often.
 
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
 
1. Try new things. Joining that new club, or participating in that competition may seem daunting and scary at first, but putting yourself out there to participate in new things is always a rewarding experience. Being active within the university community is a good way to grow not only yourself as a person, but also your resume!
 
2. Meet new people. It’s always comforting to have a support group of friends and classmates around you. Get to know fellow students through classes, attending events, and networking. Having connections is super helpful not only when you need assistance in academic activities but also in getting connections for possible job opportunities, or moral support during those tough times. When the going gets rough at school, it’s your relationships with those around you that will help you get through them.
 
3. Stay organized. No doubt you will be extremely busy throughout the school year juggling academics, extra-curriculars, and your social life. Make sure to always put the important things first, and know your limits when it comes to scheduling and committing to events. Staying organized will also help in making the most out of your university experience. You won’t be constantly stressing about that paper due tomorrow, or the test you haven’t studied for yet. Granted, I don’t think anyone ever truly masters the art of time management, but do your best!
 
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)
 
Business Management at U of T is a very versatile program that allows you to tap into many different fields. There is entrepreneurship, IT, international business, economics, accounting, the list goes on. As I said before, the good thing about the program is that it allows you to great flexibility to switch streams along your university journey (as I have done). When I graduate, I may even consider doing certification in HR, or further continue my education by getting a Master’s degree. In terms of job seeking, many places that students have done their co-op work terms in, will offer full time positions after the student’s graduation. Even if a full time position is not offered, I think that co-op students definitely have a leg up in the competitive job-seeking world due to the fact that we have probably had more business experience than other fresh graduates. In the end, your path is whatever you choose to make it, just be assured that there are always people and resources out there to support and guide your decision.
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
In my first year of studying, I had entered the program set on doing either a marketing or a human resources specialist. However, after taking the general set of business courses that all management students are required to take, I realized that I was good at accounting. For my first work term, I found a co-op positions as a tax accountant during tax season at a small accounting firm. Although that was a good exposure for me to the corporate world, I found that I didn’t really like working in that kind of environment. I decided to switch to a finance specialist instead. I was kind of all over the place with my interests, and what I want to specialize in, but the good thing about the business management co-op program is that it is relatively easy to switch between specialist streams, and a lot of the courses have transferable knowledge. This is perfect because it gives you a chance to try out different aspects of business and choose what specialist you think suits you the best. Co-op job placements also do this as well; they give you a real look into what a job in a particular field is like, so you are even more equipped to prepare for your future career.