Name: Congyi Dong (董聪逸)
Master’s programme: Stochastics and Financial Mathematics (2018-2020)
Current position: Junior Quantitative Risk Manager
Employer: NIBC Bank
Bridging the gap between theory and real-world practice
It's interesting to learn how math knowledge helps in real-world practice, and I didn't find any other similar Master’s programme in The Netherlands. The programme can be completely theoretical or more applied. With only one mandatory course – Measure Theoretic Probability – I had the freedom to take courses I liked. Some of my classmates took more theoretical courses. My interest, however, was in financial modelling. We had completely different interests, but we could all have what we wanted in the same programme.
The joys of Science Park and a nationwide classroom
Science Park is a great place to study. The location is amazing, it’s very quiet and everything is really new. The UvA offered us everything to support our studies. The most impressive thing was how small the class was: there were only 8 people in my programme. This meant the professors/lecturers had enough time to answer all students’ questions and there was as much interaction as possible. I think that’s worth a lot. What was even cooler was that I could study at three different universities: the UvA, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) and the Mastermath courses at Utrecht University. It felt like being educated by the whole of the Netherlands instead of just one university.
What was even cooler was that I could study at three different universities. It felt like being educated by the whole of the Netherlands instead of just one university.Congyi Dong
First-class reputation and close ties with the industry
I had a best friend in this programme and what I learned from her, and from my current colleagues, is that they all know this programme and consider it to be one of the best Master’s programmes in quantitative financial theory in the Netherlands. I also noticed that most financial institutions have a large group of UvA alumni, making it easier to build connections.
Internships: the springboard to success
I think the internship is very essential to understand the financial modelling industry. I did my thesis internship at the Rabobank – Credit Model Validation team, investigating if I could apply the Hidden Markov Model to obtain the credit migration matrix, so as to improve the existing backtesting procedure. What I gained was definitely more than just researching experience, but also insight into the risk management. During the internship, there were senior risk managers from different teams to give presentations about their working content every two or three weeks, which indeed helped me to find my real interest.
Job opportunities await for the curious graduate
I am currently working as a junior quantitative risk manager for stress testing at NIBC Bank. Financial institutions are still willing to invest in talents with a quantitative background, and this was even the case during the job market freeze last year. If I were to give advice to current students I would say that curiosity in the industry is very important. The interview is not an exam. If you are curious about them, they will also be curious about you. In addition, critical thinking will also help as redeveloping the existing models is a part of my job as well.