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Explain why I want to pursue a MS degree in Computational Finance - 1st half of personal statement

mimimichelle 1 / 2  
Jan 1, 2018   #1
Hi everyone, I'm drafting my essay of application to a MS program in Computational Finance. I've researched on this site and benefited a lot from other people's articles. Now I hope to get some advice on my first draft. Please feel free to give your comments. Thanks in advance!

I have worked 6 years as a data analyst and decided to pivot to computational finance. My strengths are technical capabilities and problem solving skills from a business perspective. But I have not taken any class in Finance, and never worked in Finance as well.

Here's the first half of the essay (without the conclusive first paragraph), explaining how I grew the interest and why I wanted to pursue a career in Finance.


application essay

Math has always been my strength in life, from elementary school, to college and graduate study in Physics, and further to professional working. In my 6 years of work experience as a data analyst, I have been using statistical and non-statistical models on solving marketing problems across many different industries and areas. I came to believe that numbers are the magical answers to all phenomena in our world, and I enjoyed using numbers to solve problems in professional tasks as well as in everyday life. Two years ago, I started to research on financial investment models with friends. We built models to predict and to ensure higher returns of combinations of soccer lotteries based on the bankers' data. With the gain and loss along the way, I obtained lots of satisfaction and grew great interests in the computational applications in investments. In fact, this off-work obsession, although did not provide me big income, became more intriguing than my day job. I used all my spare time to read related books and web posts, and to test and modify the models. The deeper I went into the subject, the more tempted I felt. I look forward to pursuing a career in finance and investment.

Besides its challenging and intriguing nature, Computational Finance is also very promising in terms of career development. Today the popularization of financial services has been greatly increased, benefiting from the revolutionary development of financial technologies. Take the development of investment methods in China as an example. Instead of paying by cash and keeping all their money in saving accounts a decade ago, now the average Chinese people pay with payment apps in their smartphones, and occasionally invest or loan with such functions in the same apps. Behind all these popularization, there are larger scale of calculations, modeling and estimations, requiring professionals that possess both Finance knowledge and technical capabilities, and therefore creating unprecedented job opportunities.

Holt - / 7,530 2001  
Jan 1, 2018   #2
michelle, believe it or not, there is a direct connection between your being a data analyst and your interest in Computational Finance. The most common denominator being that a person with a background in data analysis will find it extremely easy to understand the data created for finance. Both of these fields deal with generated data that is analyzed for the benefit of investors. So in the first paragraph that you posted, you should actually start the discussion with "In my 6 years..." because that is the portion that actually shows the similarities between data analysis and computational finance. Yes, computational finance is math based, but the information needs to be analyzed first and that the strength of your application. You are a well trained and equipped data analyst so it has to sound important and connected in the discussion. Since this is a formal essay avoid using casual English terms like "lots". You can use alternate terms such as several or numerous.
OP mimimichelle 1 / 2  
Jan 1, 2018   #3

Thank you so much for your suggestions! They are very helpful.
One thing is that, 'modeling' is correct. I googled and found "it's one of those 'United States vs. The Rest of the English-Speaking World' things. " LOL


Thank you so much for your advice! I do believe that there are connections, especially in terms of statistical modeling. Well, the hardest thing for me is to explain why I had the intention to pivot. Questions like 'You analyzed marketing data for 6 years and all of a sudden you wanted to analyze something else?' will be asked when the admission persons read the essay. In fact, my intention is more in getting better career options than in studying the area, which sounds bad. I like working with data, but that's not an 'intention' of working in the specific area. I'm not sure how much 'intention' weight in the admission consideration, but I believe it's important. And the reason I brought up 'math' is that math is closer to Finance, than marketing analysis is.

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