Thursday, February 25, 2016

SAIS Recent Graduate Success Story

How does a SAIS education help you in your career search? Recent SAIS MA graduate Carlotta Munini, who spent her first year at the SAIS Europe Campus in Bologna, Italy, shares her experiences. The guidance and support of the Career Services Offices across campuses and the support of its alumni around the world, helped her land her prestigious job in the financial services sector in London soon after graduation. Below is her story.

Carlotta, tell us about your new role....

I have recently been offered a position as a risk analyst in a top-tier global investment bank in London. The position consists of a three-year program in the bank’s Credit Risk division that focuses on assessing the risk arising from the default of the bank’s clients, customers and counterparties. During the duration of the program, risk analysts have the opportunity to rotate amongst different teams which allows them to gain a 360° view of the bank’s risk management challenges. The Risk team also works closely with the Deal teams –analysts are therefore constantly working on the biggest and most exciting global investment banking deals.
How do you think your experience at the Johns Hopkins SAIS prepared you for this work?
My courses at SAIS were key to my selection as a risk analyst. At SAIS, I refined my qualitative and quantitative skills by taking a number of different courses in the fields of Finance and International Relations (IR). This unique mix of knowledge proved to be my comparative advantage over other applicants. In my classes I learned what risk is, how to look at its components and how to develop strategies to hedge it.

SAIS taught me how to search for alternative explanations to global issues, to always challenge common knowledge and to dig deep for the true triggers of events in IR or Finance. Prior to SAIS I would look at oil price graphs and not truly understand what was really behind price fluctuations. Now, I know that there are a number of different elements that explain those movements such as China’s demand, Iran deal, OPEC countries, shale oil, US economy etc. I am proud to say that SAIS has done a great job teaching me how to look at financial events and read them through the lens of international relations.

Did you leverage the School’s network?

As an Italian national pursuing a top tier IR international graduate program, I was looking for a career in financial services,  but I was not sure how to break into the industry. SAIS’s Career Services Office assisted me by helping me develop my strategy for the identification of potential employers and positions to apply for. While a student at SAIS Bologna, I also attended the London Finance Career Trek in October 2014, organized by the SAIS Europe Career Services Office.  (In addition, in Europe, Career Treks are also organized to Geneva and Brussels.) Visiting multiple top-tier investment banks and talking to their employees gave me the final confirmation that the financial sector was the place I wanted to work in.

Furthermore, I attended a SAIS panel with employees working for the bank I was interested in, to get as much information as I could on the position. Finally, I took advantage of the SAIS Alumni network and met a number of different alumni in person. SAIS alumni were all very happy to give me honest advice and precious guidance on how to best prepare myself for the tough recruitment processes in the financial service sector.
What advice would you give someone contemplating attending Johns Hopkins SAIS?

I would tell them to apply immediately. My story is the proof that – no matter what your background is - SAIS truly gives you all the necessary tools to get where you want to be in terms of your future career. The diversity of courses offered at SAIS is also an invaluable asset to take advantage from. SAIS prepares you to become someone that understands a complicated blend of Economics, Finance, International Relations, Energy and/or other area studies. Completing this coursework, besides being an incredible personal achievement, is also a highly sought-after skill by employers. The people you meet at SAIS come from the most diverse backgrounds and cultures. Just being around them truly changes the way you think about global issues. The bond between SAIS Bolognesi remains strong when moving to SAIS DC and further on in life. You also get to spend one year in Bologna, Italy, home to the oldest university in Europe (University of Bologna)…who wouldn’t want to do that?

Once you are at SAIS, I suggest you take as many different courses as you can and take advantage of the career services events. Challenge yourself! Once you figure out the sector you want to work in, reach out to and meet as many alumni as you can. It turns out that– no matter where you are in the world - SAIS Alumni are always more than willing to share their precious advice and stories with you.

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