We decided to showcase four inspiring international students. The M.S. in Commerce presents challenges for even the strongest student, but our classmates who hail from outside of the United States learn a new culture and use a new language while conquering graduate business school. Their insights and experiences are a valuable addition to the program.
Tommy de la Hunty hails from London, England. He attended Trinity College at Cambridge where he studied Economics. Tommy is in the Finance Track. After the program, he returns to London for an internship at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Q: How has the M.S. in Commerce program met and differed from your expectations as an international student?
Tommy: I really like how accessible the professors are at the McIntire School of Commerce. While it was an adjustment at first from my undergraduate experience, I enjoy the participation structure because you get to know the professors well while also hearing interesting perspectives from other students.
Q: What do you like best about McIntire?
Tommy: I enjoy how the courses are structured and how responsive the program is to the needs of the students. For example, the program moved one of our track-specific finance classes to the beginning of Fall Term since the information was so important as we started the finance recruiting season. Of course, I also have been pleasantly surprised at how friendly my classmates are, particularly given the competitive nature of the program.
Luna Han is in the Business Analytics Track. She attended Nankai University in Tianjin, China, before coming to UVA. Luna will return home to China to work as a business analyst for a FinTech company in Beijing.
Q: What is your perspective on this program as an international student?
Luna: I love the real life skills we learn such as networking, presenting, and job hunting. It is extremely easy to access information through Commerce Career Services and connect with employers. The program has helped me develop professional confidence. I also enjoy the diversity of perspectives and people. As a foreign student, I did not know what to expect but I like how everyone is so open minded and friendly.
Q: What advice would you give to an international student about getting a job here in the States?
Luna: Take advantage of the wonderful resources McIntire offers. The networking opportunities are great, but I recommend researching the industries ahead of time and connecting with professors as another resources. Because the job search is so early, do your work ahead of time to ensure you are prepared when interview season begins.
Omar Amer is from Egypt and came to UVA after completing his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and pre-med at the University of Oklahoma. He is in the Business Analytics track. After the program, Omar will apply his quantitative skills as a tech consultant with Ernst & Young in New York.
Q: Why did you choose the M.S. in Commerce program after engineering? Has the program lived up to your expectations?
Omar: I wanted to explore more of what business had to offer and needed a program that could teach me the critical skills that I would need to excel in my future career. I have always been interested in business but didn’t know how to get there from engineering until I came across the M.S. in Commerce.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of the program?
Omar: I’m always fascinated by how the program challenges us. I now look back on past projects with amazement. I wonder how we accomplished so much in such a short period of time. McIntire professors push us far beyond our perceived limitations. My classmates have also had a profound impact because we motivate and learn from one another which I think is really valuable. As much as I appreciate the UVA alumni network, the strongest network is the one I now have with my classmates.
Grace Li, a native of Beijing, China, is currently in the Finance Track. She earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University in Economics and Statistics. After the M.S. in Commerce, Grace will be joining a leadership rotational program at Ipreo, a FinTech firm in New York.
Q: How did you end up securing the position with Ipreo?
Grace: I am very impressed by the School’s recruiting resources in finance. So many firms recruit at McIntire and many come here multiple times to host coffee chats, valuation workshops, and even mock interviews. I found my job through Handshake, the career job portal at UVA. I’ll be working at Ipreo, a FinTech company held by Blackstone and Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking that provides market intelligence, data, and capital-raising solutions to participants in the global capital markets. Commerce Career Services also connected me with a lot of international jobs through GoinGlobal, so I had the opportunity to apply for jobs in China as well. I’m excited to go to New York though!
Q: How well do you feel the M.S. in Commerce program has prepared you?
Grace: I’ve learned a lot from the Program and got exposed to a lot of topics that I wasn’t aware of as an undergrad. The courses here really enhanced my understanding of the different areas in finance, from capital markets to valuation, and even the current financial regulation settings. Learning about culture has been another great benefit! I really appreciate the diversity of the program. I live and socialize with classmates from Africa, the Middle East, and United States, and we talk about important global issues in Professor Peter Maillet’s course Foundations of Global Commerce from a variety of perspectives.