Student Perspectives

Student Perspective

Adam Plantinga

Adam Plantinga

MFE 17

Associate CLO/ABS Trading
BNP Paribas
New York, NY

Learning to Flex a New Set of Muscles

The Berkeley MFE took my existing skills and put them in a financial context. It gave me the opportunity to flex a new set of muscles.

MFE puts career progress well within reach

In just two years, I’ve moved from an internship into a full-time associate position, and then, into a seat at a trading desk. None of this would have been in my grasp without the knowledge and skills I gained as a Berkeley MFE.

My desk trades collateralized loan obligations (CLOs), which because they are securitized, are more complex than other types of fixed income instruments. A lot of math and statistics is required in modeling CLOs, and as market makers we need to understand the nuances and use these models on the fly.

It would have been difficult breaking into a Wall Street role just shooting off applications from South Africa. With the credential of the Berkeley MFE on my résumé, and the strong connections between the program and BNP, I became a viable candidate.

Business school faculty have a commercial mindset

Because the Berkeley MFE is in a business school, the faculty by nature has a commercial mindset. They understand what it takes to function and innovate in the financial industry.

The coursework is grounded in the real world. This is not pie-in-the-sky academia. In my first term, what I learned was immediately applicable to my internship, and after graduation, to my first job.

All of the big investment banks and financial industry leaders come to campus to recruit. You will not get that kind of interest if you attend an MFE in an engineering school. What’s more, you would be on your own in regard to preparing for interviews and negotiating offers.

Students, alumni, and career services coalesce into a supportive community

From day one, the program office was focused on getting us internship interviews. We had a full-time crew on our side. We all had incentives at play: the students to get the right internship, and the program office to maintain its blemish-free placement record.

It goes without saying that all of my classmates were smart, focused, technically proficient, and ambitious; their diverse expertise and raw brainpower turned every class assignment team into a super unit ready to tackle any challenge or question.

Even though the class size is small, we have forged strong connections with the school and each other.

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