For new Financial Math students starting Fall 2014

The Financial Math program at NC State has students from diverse backgrounds and cultures; Yizhou Chen from Shanghai, China shares her story and tips for those moving to Raleigh, North Carolina.

By- Yizhou Chen, May 2015 Graduate, Financial Math Intern, Career Ambassador

"A new semester is coming! Since we have been living in Raleigh, North Carolina for one year, we have something to share with new classmates moving here as they start the Financial Math program at NC State.

First of all, I want to say that Raleigh is a great place to live. I am from Shanghai, China. Compare with Shanghai, the weather here is not too hot in summer and not too cold in winter. A lot of trees are around us and it is very quiet here compared to living in a big city. There are many ways to have fun with a several entertainment options.

The most important thing I think for new students, especially international students, is where you plan to live. Around NC State campus there are many different places to live from renting apartments, townhouses or sharing a house. Most students rent but there is options to buy as well. NC State has a great bus transportation system and is convenient for traveling back and forth to campus. However, a car is useful to run errands and see the rest of the city. If you can room with someone who has a car, that would be ideal. Many students end up having their own car after a year and move further from campus where rent is cheaper.

There are many restaurants near campus. Most places to eat are cheap and the food is decent. If you have a car, you can find some great restaurants in downtown Raleigh, North Raleigh and nearby cities of Cary, Morrisville, Chapel Hill and Durham. We enjoy venturing out to different nearby towns to eat at their restaurants. There are all types of cuisines here including Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Italian, Mexican, Southwest, American, European, French, etc.

Regarding coursework- It is good for students to register for four courses at the beginning in first semester. This way you can gage how much you can handle during the first few weeks. You can get the syllabus for each course and figure out the professor's style and expectations. Then evaluate your time and see if you can still handle four courses. You may find you need to drop one course.

Because every student's background is different, it is hard to know which courses will be hard and which ones will be easy. You will find after a few weeks that you can make friends who can help you study in courses that are challenging.

My advice is to not overload yourself in the first semester. Hard courses require a lot of time and energy. For example, I think MA 546 (Probability Theory and Stochastic Processes) is a very hard course, because I need to understand the different theories and figure out the proofs. However, MBA (Masters in Business Administration) courses are not very hard. Even though I need to read cases and prepare for presentations, these courses are not heavy brain work and time consuming.

For fun, we always go to mall for shopping. It is not very far and the shopping malls have a lot of interesting stores to check out. North Carolina has beaches and mountains which are not too far from Raleigh. We have taken day trips to the beach, hiked in the Smoky Mountains, and visited lakes to swim in close by. There are many forest parks and lake parks here. During the spring, summer and autumn, we can pick fruits in some farms. Sometimes we go to concerts, visit museums, and go to the theatre here.

People here are very polite and kindness, I think all of you will love living here. And, I think you will also enjoy the Financial Math program at NC State."- Yizhou Chenblogpostpic blogpostpic3 blogpostpic2

Networking and the Financial Math Board – a student’s perspective


Every year, NC State’s Master of Financial Math (MFM) program holds Fall and Spring Board meetings. (Background- “MFM’s Board consists of alumni, faculty and professionals from industry. They meet to support and discuss the future direction of the program. The Board advocates for the MFM program within NC State and with external constituents. Board members may mentor students and provide related work opportunities such as internships and job shadowing experiences,” Leslie Bowman, Director of Career Services)

This past fall semester 2013, was my first opportunity to engage with board members from SAS, Genworth, Duke Energy and Local Government Federal Credit Union. The Career Ambassadors, including myself, helped the Director of Career Services ensure the board meeting events occurred smoothly. Their appropriate behavior and professional dress received compliments and left employers a wonderful impression.


“I am excited that it is my first time to exercise my elevator pitch”, Yi Chao (May 2015 Graduate) “My task was greeting the employers upon arrival and showing them to the meeting room. I was still a little shy and nervous when leading the first employer; however, I turned out to be more brave and natural the following time”.

“I talked with Mr. Jeffrey Lovern from Genworth with my elevator pitch”, said Xun Ma(May 2015 Graduate), “The employers are much nicer than I imagined. Just be brave and talk to them; you’ll find any anxiety you have will decrease as the conversation continues. Just be yourself!”


After the Board meeting, there was a reception where all MFM students could engage with the Board members. The discussion topics covered specific skill sets required for internships, future job opportunities and the future development of course selection.

Catherine (May 2015 Graduate) felt very beneficial from talking to Mrs. Megan Jennings from Duke Energy (MFM Alumni). “Our talk initiated my passion to work in the energy industry”, she said, “I think it is suitable for me. However, the job will demand more statistical knowledge. So I will consider taking more statistic courses.”


Yi Chao, Jason Massey (May 2015 Graduate) and Priya Padher (May 2015 Graduate) had an interesting conversation with Mr. Albert Hopping from SAS (MFM Alumni). Mr. Hopping’s success and experience in risk management was inspiring. Yi Chao asked technical questions about catastrophe risk controlling which created the group's interest in learning more. Priya asked the qualifications SAS requires in potential interns. “It is never too late to improve our technical, communicational and problem solving skills to become qualified candidates.”


The board meeting and reception was successful, and the students were happy to meet and converse with the board members.



“I am glad I was an active participant in this event. I really learned a lot and improved my conversational and networking skills. We appreciate our time spent with the Financial Math board members, and are thankful for their knowledge and support with our program.”- Yi Chao

By Yi Chao, May 2015 Graduate, Financial Math Intern & Career Ambassador

We look forward to the Spring Financial Math Board Meeting to take place this Friday, April 25th, 2014 along with a celebration to mark 10 years! 

Meet Xiaohong Chen- Career Ambassador of the week!


"Hello, My name is  Xiaohong Chen, a current student in the Masters of Financial Mathematics Program of NCSU. I have been in the United States for over nine months now and I feel this is one of the greatest times in my life!

To me, ‘quant’ was once a mysterious but exciting word, which captured my imagination. I can still remember the first time I learned about the binomial tree option pricing model; I became instantly fascinated with learning more. Since then, becoming a 'quant’ was my dream. Thus, I decided to come to NC State to chase this dream!

During my time here, I have realized that being a quant is challenging. Through the Financial Math’s career development services, I attended a job shadowing program to a local financial institution. Through this learning experience I got the chance to communicate with employees (in risk management and investment departments) to understand their job responsibilities. The job shadowing event was a great opportunity and I realized which career path I did and did not want to pursue. (Tip- it is just as important to know what you do and do not want to do in life) 

After carefully consideration, I have decided to pursue a Ph.D. in math after graduation. I know there is long way to go, and I will never give up my dream. If possible, I wish to be a Quantitative developer one day. I have talents and gifts in programming and I want to make full use of this skill in my future position. For next several years in academia, I plan to build a solid foundation for math and complement my background in computer science in order to make myself qualified for this job. This is a long way off, but it is a laudable dream. And I believe I can make it one day!

Life here is not tedious. I have enjoyed some of the greatest moments of my life and I made best friends in the past year. NC State’s Financial Math program offers several professional events during the year, and I am honored to be a Career Ambassador and actively participate in these activities. These experiences have already helped me improve my social skills and professionalism, which will help me network to land my dream job one day. I appreciate all these opportunities I have within this program and I quite enjoy my life here."

Xiaohong Chen, May 2015 Graduate, Financial Math Intern & Career Ambassador

Meet Yi Chao- Career Ambassador of the Week


"My name is Yi Chao (May 2015 Graduate), currently a first year graduate student in Financial Mathematics at NC State. I grow up in Baoji, a small city in the middle of China. During 4 years’ college life in Beijing, the capital of China, I found myself really enjoy modern city life. For example, I enjoyed spending all the day in museums and art galleries. After arriving at Raleigh, North Carolina, I quickly adapt life here such as enjoying nature by hiking in the parks around the city. I have also fallen in love with the warm sunshine and fresh air here.

Since I major in math during undergraduate, it may be a natural choice for me to pursue a Masters in Financial Math. I have enjoyed the feeling of applying the mathematical knowledge I learned in classes into reality by receiving several prizes in mathematical modeling contest. As my graduate studies have progressed, I realized Financial Mathematics is much more than I thought. Now I focus more on the risk management field by taking the extra steps with the Financial Risk Analysis and FRM certification this semester.

My interest in risk management came to be through an internship in the “Enterprise Risk Service” department at Deloitte in 2012. During that internship, our team worked hard building a risk appetite system for a large reinsurance company. We researched and modified the well-known Qis5 model according to the company’s real situation. Although this was challenging and we faced many technical obstacles, we finally made it out.

Comparing to myself at that time, I have much more knowledge both in math and finance now through the Masters in Financial Math program. Together with this, I engaged in leadership positions as a Career Ambassador and Financial Math Intern this semester. Our Director of Career Services, Mrs. Bowman, provided opportunities to understand more about networking with employers, and interview and presentation skills. I am looking forward to future opportunities to apply these new skills with my past work experience and enhanced knowledge in the risk management field."- Yi Chao

Meet Xun Ma- Career Ambassador of the Week


"My name is  Xun Ma (May 2015 Graduate), and come from a small city in the southeast of China, Guiyang. As a first year student in Financial Mathematics program at North Carolina State University, I got an awesome opportunity to be an Ambassador of the program.

Before I came to the Financial Mathematics program, I was majored in Econometrics. As a Chinese student, I found that I learned a lot through the work experience as an Ambassador. The Ambassador is a role not only about leadership, but also a role about professionalism. This is a good way to experience professional environment in the United States. Within few months in the role, I had the opportunity to have close communication with professionals in financial industry and help advisors to prepare board meetings and career fairs. All of these professional events fulfill the rest of my time out of academic study.

My personal interest is to apply mathematical skills in model construction in order to solve practical problems. In the short run, I plan to be a risk modeler. So far, I enjoy learning related numerical skills and programming skills based on solid theoretical knowledge in quantitative finance. I have implemented my quantitative skills in several projects that are mainly focus on explaining the relationship between interest rate spread and sovereign debt crisis.

More importantly, my Ambassador role provides extra resources to help me improve my communication skills and opportunities to introduce myself to a large range of working professionals from different companies. All of these experiences give me passion and confidence to pursue my career goal."- Xun Ma