Financial Math socials- a fun break from the rigorous coursework

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In the midst of the busy life with assignments and projects, Financial Math students have the opportunity to take a break with social events scattered throughout the semesters. The socials are fun and act as stress busters in between long hours of studying. More importantly, the socials bring everyone together and allow the students to bond outside the classroom.

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Last Spring 2015 semester, our Director of Career Services and Director hosted events such as bowling, Chinese New Years potluck and a spring picnic with team games. The Financial Math program does a great job of ensuring all students enjoy their time at NC State.

We had a great time and look forward to future Financial Math socials Fall and Spring semesters. Thank you Leslie & Jeff! - Preethi Kankanala, Financial Math Intern, December 2015 Graduate

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Bloomberg terminal for Financial Math students

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

The Bloomberg Terminal is a computer system provided by Bloomberg that enables professionals in finance and other industries to access Bloomberg Professional services through which users can monitor and analyze real-time financial market data and place trades on the electronic trading platform. Most large financial firms have subscriptions to the Bloomberg Professional service.  I am please to tell everyone that last spring NC State's Financial Math program received a Bloomberg Terminal!

So you may ask- what could you do with this Bloomberg Terminal? I have listed three most important features students may have interest in:

1) Market data: The most well-known function of Bloomberg terminal is the real-time financial market data, namely security values. This includes the data for stocks, fixed-income securities, derivatives, and foreign exchange. This function is powerful that one can even view historical pricing, read a description of the business, and view analyst reports.

2) News: The Bloomberg terminal can offer you the real-time news. By typing “NEWS” in the search bar, one can get the latest financial or non-financial news headlines from all over the world. The Bloomberg terminal also has job search function built inside of it. And you can filter by position and location to help pinpoint the right career that suits your needs.

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3) Education: If you are a beginner, don’t worry because Bloomberg terminal offers a lots of ways to help you learn it. You can choose to take Bloomberg Essentials Online Training program, which is designed to provide users with an introduction to the Bloomberg Professional Service. You can also find other seminars and events in Bloomberg University. And when you have no idea about how to use a terminal properly, Bloomberg services offers free help via phone and IM chat 24 hours a day.

Current students- are you excited about it? Don’t wait. Just go and play around with this powerful tool, and you will find more surprising features.

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

Test drive the Quantitative Finance BETA site from Stack Exchange

Quantitative Finance Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for finance professionals and academics. This website http://quant.stackexchange.com/ covers questions on real-life problems you face such as:

  • securities valuation
  • risk modeling
  • market microstructure
  • portfolio management
  • financial engineering
  • econometrics

And this is not a discussion forum...Quantitative Finance Stack Exchange is all about answers. Pretty straight forward- Ask a question, get an answer! Great resource to check out while it is in BETA.

Other resources for Quantitative Finance:

1. Wilmott.com

Wilmott.com is a quantitative financial portal created by Paul Wilmott. One can find job postings, technical articles, up-to-date news, and other useful resources.

http://www.wilmott.com/

2. QuantStart

QuantStart is a personal website discussing Algorithmic Trading strategy research, development, backtesting and implementation. The author behind this website once worked in a hedge fund as a quantitative trading developer in London. Therefore, his articles are very practical. There are several articles on career development, which are very useful for those unfamiliar with the industry.

http://www.quantstart.com/

3. QuantLib

The QuantLib project is aimed at providing a comprehensive software framework for quantitative finance. QuantLib is a free/open-source library for modeling, trading, and risk management in real-life. It is written in C++ with a clean object model, and is then exported to different languages such as C#, Objective Caml, Java, Perl, Python, GNU R, Ruby, and Scheme.

http://quantlib.org/

4. Yahoo Finance

You can get free stock quotes, option prices, up to date news, portfolio management resources, international market data, message boards, and mortgage rates from here.

http://finance.yahoo.com/

5. Data and Charts of U.S. Department of the Treasury

Great resource to find all kinds of interest rates related with the U.S. treasury.

http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/Pages/index.aspx

6. QuantNet

It is a leading resource on Financial Engineering education and news, but the main focus is education. Quantnet provides detail information about Financial Engineering programs in North America.

https://www.quantnet.com/

*****
By- Xiaohong Chen, Financial Math Intern, May 2015 Graduate

These students made it through the rigorous Financial Math program at NC State

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(Left to Right- Xue Miao, Xinyuan Huang, Director- Jeff Scroggs, Director of Career Services- Leslie Bowman, Zhe Wang, Zhexing Zhang, Meenakshi Ramchurn, Sohaila Shaukat). Not pictured- Rana Kashif, Haozhi Wei, Zhengran Zhou, Samuel Busch, Kathy Varga, Xiangju Wang, Cheng Yu, Shihao Zuo, Meng Yang, Wen Zhong, Ying Xu)

The students (pictured above) proudly graduated on May 9, 2014 and received their Masters in Financial Mathematics (MFM) degree. They are excited and happy to achieve this meaningful accomplishment. Their hard work and long hours of studying paid off!

Sohaila Shaukat shares more details:

What was the most rewarding assignment or project of the program?
"The most rewarding project of the program was the one we did on asset pricing in 'Computational Methods in Economics and Finance' course. The project solidified my interest in derivative pricing and helped me build on what I had previously learned in Monte Carlo Methods for Financial Mathematics and Asset Pricing. Also, this added a lot to my resume, as employers are constantly seeking people who can build financial models and have a little bit of experience in it. It was also the reason I landed with an internship over the summer with Tata Consultancy Services."
What was the most interesting or favorite course and why?
"Most of the courses were rewarding. But my two most favorite courses are 'Computational Methods in Economics and Finance' and 'Time Series Analysis'. Both are difficult courses with brilliant professors, and helped me enhance my skills in data modeling, derivatives pricing and financial modeling. These courses also introduced me to R-programming and enhanced my skills in Matlab."
How many hours a week did you spend studying (on average)?
"I studied 20 to 30 hours per week on average. 20, when we didn't have to submit assignments in every course, and 30 or more usually when exam week/ mid terms are near."
Anything you would have done differently throughout your time here?
"I would have worked harder on the courses that involved a lot of Statistics and Stochastic Calculus. Since I had a non-mathematics background, I should have spent a lot more time on them. Also, I would have started applying for full time positions in July, 2013, instead of delaying it till January, 2014. This is because most major banking/wealth management firms hire their graduate trainees between July to December."
Sohaila's hard work paid off since she had several interviews and received a job offer. Look forward to a future post about her story.

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(Xinyaun Huang, Xue Miao, Zhe Wang, Zhexing Zhang)

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(Sohaila Shaukat, Director, Jeff Scroggs, Meenaski Ramchurn)

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(Time to celebrate!)

We congratulate them and wish many, many years of success!

To learn more about the program: Financial Math program details

 

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

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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.

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“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!”

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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.”

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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.”

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

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“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!

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"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

Bloomberg visit- women have more influence on the economy than men!

He is one of Bloomberg’s top economists.

He predicted the 2008 financial crisis in 2007.

He was hailed as “Nostradamus of the Financial Industry” by Bank Advisor in 2008.

His name is Richard Yamarone. Mr. Yamarone recently visited North Carolina State University and talked with Financial Math students about career paths in Wall Street, and well as outlook on the economy.

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Mr. Richard Yamarone started his speech by talking about how to prepare for jobs in Wall Street. He stressed the importance of networking, pointing out that even your classmates and alumni are great resources to socialize with. He also stated that grades may not have much impact on your career developments. Instead, your transferable skills and personal ability matters more and should be highlighted in your resume and interview.

In terms of preparing for interviews, Mr. Richard Yamarone suggested that we should read the news everyday to keep up to date on the latest trends and news in the industry. He also discussed the tough job market and getting used to rejection. He shared his personal experience as an example, and how he landed a job in Wall Street.

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Later, Mr. Richard Yamarone changed his topic to indicators for economic forecasting. He believes that there is no holy grail of economic indicators but the ‘Fab Five’ indicators he summarized may shed some lights on predicting. The ‘Fab Five’ refers to:

(1) Dining out

(2) Casino Gambling

(3) Jewelry & Watch

(4) Cosmetics & Perfumes

(5) Women’s Dresses

Yes, these are all related with women’s consumption. Mr. Richard Yamarone concluded that women have high influence on the economy not men!

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Thank you, Mr. Richard Yamarone for your wonderful and enlightening presentation!

Share your thoughts- Do you think women have more influence than men on the economy? Do you think grades matter or not?

-Xiaohong Chen, May 2015 Graduate, Career Ambassador

Meet Yi Chao- Career Ambassador of the Week

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"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

The festivities of Spring Festival- Chinese New Years 2014

February 6th is the seventh day of the lunar New Year, when the Spring Festival nearly ends. People in China gradually leave their home and get back to work. Although our Chinese students did not have the holiday off for a week in the United States, they still were to celebrate the spring festival in their own way. For example, several students had a good time in Xun Ma’s (May 2015 graduate) home on Chinese New Year’s Eve and enjoyed  hot pot. (Pictured above).

Hot pot, less commonly known as steamboat, refers to several East Asian varieties of stew, consisting of a simmering metal pot of stock at the center of the dining table. While the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table. Typical hot pot dishes include thinly sliced meat, leaf, vegetables, mushrooms, wontons, and seafood. Vegetables, fish and meat should be fresh. The cooked food is usually eaten with a dipping sauce. In many areas, hot pot meals are often eaten in the winter.

Hot pot is a kind of way to communicate more than just to eat. When cooking and eating hot pot, friends or family get together for hours to chat and drink. You will get warmer while eating as well as your relationship with your friends.

Pictured above, Samuel(December 2013 Graduate)  and Ilya (May 2015  Graduate) were also invited to a hot pot party. It was the first time for both of them to try hot pot.

Recent days are the coldest time in Raleigh, North Carolina with snow. Would you like hot pot to warm your stomach and heart?