Recently we had a very motivated commenter named give us an extensive firsthand report of his/her experience at the University of Amsterdam and the Master of International Finance. However, all these valuable insights were posted in response to our critique of an entirely different Brave Supplicant’s application essay to that program — and thus, were at risk of being overlooked. These are the types of observations that people need when they’re researching programs, so we’re dedicating today’s blahg to a repost of Dee’s report.
Sooo I came to Amsterdam about a year and a half ago, and everything seemed horrible: weather, biking everywhere, the food (which to this day I still think it quite horrible, but I’ve found some good spots), the people didn’t seem that friendly, I hated my accounting prof… By the third week of class, I was convinced I had made a mistake and was regretting my decision.
But I guess you need to give it more time. The MIF is totally different from all the masters offered by UvA, meaning that they highlight experiential learning. We used HBS cases in our class quite a bit, we had industry representatives come to our classes, and some of the profs who taught there were top notch and above. For instance, one of the classes was actually taught by UBS’ Head of Equity Research in Amsterdam (who later graciously offered internships to a number of people from the class). Who better to teach a class on valuation?! Or we had a prof from Wharton come over for financial modeling, which was again a super sweet course. I personally felt I learned a lot in this short year. There were some duds (accounting!!!), but overall really good.
The thing that made the whole masters completely worthwhile for me though was the study trip to Cape Town (I didn’t pay the whole fee too because we get very very generous scholarships, especially for high GMAT scores). I know people like to toss buzz words around, but trust me when I say: that experience was truly transformational for me. I went there thinking “ohhh look at me, I’m so awesome, I did this and this, got an award for that, everybody should bow down to my Highness” and came back a changed person. How else would you feel when you see a 16-year-old kid working on building a house for orphans and helping keep his peers out of trouble, while still helping his family and going to school?! Everything I had achieved until that point seemed like nothing. Not to mention we had a blast, took pics with penguins and met up with some of the most innovative financial institutions in the world (don’t think CDOs, think how do we provide people who earn so little access to quality banking).
n the end, if you get to know it very well (and I did), Amsterdam is an awesome place to be. Where else would they have raving parties every day of the night, barbecues every weekend?! You’ve also got the big Amsterdam airport a short train ride away = weekend trips to most of Europe will cost you less than 100 euros. The student body at the UvA is incredibly international and friendly (at least the internationals… sadly, I can’t say that about the Dutch, they tended to keep to themselves – booo!)
Getting to the important part: finding a job after graduation. Unfortunately, though, the reviews are not that good on this front. The class who finished the year before us got plenty of jobs in London in investment banking and that whole industry, but we weren’t so lucky. I don’t particularly blame the school for that, it’s mostly the economy, but at the same time I think more could have been done on their side. They’re severely understaffed in that area and the career services were never satisfactory. But again, in case you didn’t know, Holland (and I suspect most of Europe too) has been in a recession for the past two quarters, so getting a job is challenging no matter what. However, it can be done and I’m proof of that. Because of networking with the right profs, I will start working in PE soon. As with most things, it’s what you make of it.
Anyway, sorry for the long comment, but who knows, maybe someone will read it one day and it will help him/her choose. My two cents on London masters vs. UvA MIF: indeed, recruiting might be easier for you, but at the same time it’s a lot more expensive in London + the people are grrrrr (the LSE folks I’ve met at last interview round IB in London scared me with how unfriendly and cutthroat they were; but then again, IB, I guess?!).
Dee, THANK YOU! You clearly made the most of this opportunity! Congratulations on your achievements and good luck in your next adventure into private equity!
To everyone else: The above are one person’s opinions (and not the ‘Snark’s), your mileage may vary and all that, but hearing about how things have gone for other people is, we hope, of value as you continue your own research into the right graduate program for you.