Many business school graduates are allured by the prospect of a career in finance. Jobs at Wall Street banks and other financial institutions are fast-paced, demand critical thinking, and draw upon hard and soft skills that you can learn at business school.
The Master of Science (MSc) in Finance at Bocconi University in Italy aims to prepare students with a grounding in finance, a strong network, and an introduction to potential employers.
The degree clearly pays off with top jobs, with 97% of students finding employment within three months of graduation, working at the world’s leading financial institutions, from investment banks like Goldman Sachs to ratings agencies like Moody’s.
We spoke to three Bocconi MSc in Finance graduates who tell us how Bocconi helped them make their first steps into a career in finance.
Exploring different paths in finance
Finance groups together a vast range of jobs, professions, and specializations, from accounting to trading, from fintech to asset management. Often it can be hard to narrow down which area you want to focus on without having a deeper understanding and specialist knowledge of each area of finance.
Giulia Bardelli (pictured below) had a grounding in finance from her bachelor’s in finance from Bocconi. But she wasn’t clear which area she wanted to end up in, and was keen to delve deeper. For her, this was one of the main advantages of choosing a two-year master’s at Bocconi, compared to one-year programs in most other countries.
“The two year program allowed us to have the opportunity to study a variety of subjects in finance. Finance may seem like a small universe but it's quite big,” Giulia remembers.
The first year of the program takes students through the core of finance, from financial modelling to analysis and reporting. “The level of knowledge I got to after the masters I would have never got just from a bachelor’s and working. When you study to that level you really bring that with you to work: you can apply the things you’ve learned and the way you’ve learned.”
Touching on the quantitative side of finance, Giulia was drawn towards pursuing a career in investment banking.
Between her first and second year, Bocconi MSc students have the chance to do a summer internship. Giulia worked at a global investment bank with headquarters in London, which confirmed her interest in investment banking. Six years on, she still works there, as a vice-president in credit sales.
Hear more about how Kim, Giulia, and Francesca launched their careers
Building a network and meeting employers
In finance, building a network is a crucial part of progressing your career. For Bocconi graduates, this starts on the master’s program.
Kim Salvadori (pictured below) is now an executive director at Goldman Sachs in London. But less than a decade ago, she was graduating her bachelor’s with no work experience in finance. To build a career, she knew she had to choose a program that would help her to grow her network and start making connections with employers.
“I knew that Bocconi was a prestigious course, but also that it had a great network of alumni in different major financial institutions. It’s definitely the right place to start pursuing a career.”
She was initially interested in working as an advisor in the corporate finance space, so was keen to get a broad range of knowledge in finance. This included exploring different elective modules, going to lots of networking events, and networking with outside speakers from different professional backgrounds.
She particularly remembers the thrill of being able to speak to influential people in finance, from partners of huge private equity funds to managing directors of investment banks. “They’re in the classroom with you and you can go up and speak to them. It’s great to get a view from the other side.”
Bocconi has a vast network of partnerships with different companies and organizations, who often contribute to the content and teaching of the course. This was actually where Kim first met her future employer Goldman Sachs, who were partners with the school on an investment banking course.
This proved to be a fruitful connection to make. Some of the team she’d met ended up being involved in her interview for the graduate program, which was her first step into the company.
Preparation for the working environment
The Bocconi MSc is a pre-experience master’s, meaning that many students enrol straight after their bachelor’s without any prior work experience. For many, the master’s is an important chance to get prepared for the world of work.
Francesca Maria Paolino (pictured right), now an associate analyst at Moody’s Investors Service in Dubai, came straight to Bocconi from her bachelor’s, looking to gain some deeper experience as well as to figure which area of finance she wanted to work in. Given that she didn’t have a clear idea of where she wanted to work, it was more a process of elimination.
Her internship, while at Bocconi, at MPS Capital Services proved immensely valuable to her, giving her a good experience in a rigorous working environment. This, along with her MSc, taught her several valuable skills about what you need to thrive in a career in finance.
“Decision-driven”, “team-oriented”, “collaborative”, and “transparent” are among the most important characteristics she considers to be vital for a career in finance. Holding on to these has helped Francesca Maria achieve the success she has reached today at Moody’s.
“It's a very ‘hands in the patient’ job, there's a lot of responsibility, but you can really make an impact. I like that!”
Discover more about
Milan - Italy