“Meet our Financial Math Alumni Series”- Meet Yi Chao


"Speak to people…Increase your network!"- Yi Chao, May 2015 Graduate

Yi Chao recently graduated from the Financial Math program in May 2015. She was an active student in our program as a Career Ambassador and Intern. While studying hard to be among the top of her class, she also took full advantage of all career development activities. Her hard work paid off as she received a full-time job opportunity to work at Maxpoint.

Yi Chao is currently working as a Product Analyst at Maxpoint in RTP (Research Triangle Park) in North Carolina. We are glad she took the time to share her experiences and advice to incoming, current and prospective students. Her interview below- by Preethi Kankanala

Why did you decide to get a Master’s Degree in Financial Math program at NCSU?

Yi Chao: I received a Bachelors in Applied Mathematics in China. While I was studying I always wanted to do something that can be applied to daily life situations. After taking courses Microeconomics, Econometrics and Game- Theory, I felt finance was the best direction for me to take as a career choice.

I was fascinated by real-time data, the movement of stock prices and how the daily market situations affect the price. With the Mathematics background I had, Financial Mathematics was the best field to choose.

How did the Financial Math program prepare you for your job?

Yi Chao: I took mostly statistic courses as I was interested in analyzing data. Also, I enhanced my programming skills after coming here. I did not have much programming experience before coming here, but after the Monte Carlo class, the assignments and projects in the course helped me improve my programming skills and I ended up with an A+ in that class.

Also it is very important to concentrate on all the courses equally, because you never know which one will help you more during the job search, so I put equal effort in all classes.

How was your experience with your summer internship at Altrius Capital?

Yi Chao: Working with Altrius Capital Investment company gave me a great hands-on experience on valuation and real world concepts behind trading. My project at Altrius included doing market research for a fixed income market trader. I used financial statements & balance sheets to analyze the different companies, and give suggestions to the trader.

The other project I worked on is more quantitative, using Morningstar software we transferred the data to excel and analyzed the data of public companies.

Can you explain more about your current job? And how is internship helping you for this job?

Yi Chao: I am now working in Maxpoint as a Product Analyst. My job mainly consists of market research, analyzing data, try to get insights from it and improve our product. My project is mostly done in Python. We use statistical models to analyze the data, find target users and serve advertisements.

From the surface, my present job and the internship projects seems to be different but at the core they are almost the same. The thinking method is similar by using quantitative methods to do research and solve problems.

Important to note, at work we give lot of presentations. My internship allowed me to enhance my soft skills and learn how to communicate better. I am now more confident in giving presentations in my current job.

What are the different position you have applied for the full time and how did you apply for those?

Yi Chao: I applied mostly for the Quantitative jobs, Risk Management and Data Analyst roles. Most of the jobs I have applied were through LinkedIn and Glassdoor. However, besides applying to jobs online, it is also very important to follow up with the application through the respective HR manager or with any alumni working in the same company (If there are any).

How did the career fairs help you?

Yi Chao: Career fairs gives you a lot information. You will get to know the companies and the different positions they offer. It is the best place to network and market yourself. Many job requirements ask for 3-5 years of experience in any of the programming languages, but if you show you have great analytical and problem solving skills and learn quickly, there is a chance they may hire you. It helps to be confident in the skills you have.

What are your suggestions for the current and future students?

Yi Chao: The main advice I would like to give to the students is, network with the people, do not let your fear or inhibitions to take a back step on this. There is never a harm if you speak to people, only good happens. Keeping aside about job, you will get to know lot of information from their experience. Also contact people through LinkedIn. I talked to lot of Financial Math Alumni and learned a lot from them. I also got a few interview calls because of my network.

Grasp every opportunity to talk to people, professors, alumni and people coming from industry. Keep looking for what you are interested in because that is what gives you the passion to learn or work. Push yourself to be the best you can and then you will know your potential.

Regarding jobs and internships, make sure you start applying as early as possible and make a very good resume, and be clear on each and everything that is written on your resume.


Thank you Yi! We appreciate your time and advice.

How I landed my dream job two months before graduation

by Samuel Busch, Financial Mathematics student- December 2013 graduate

As a soon-to-be graduate from the Masters in Financial Mathematics (MFM) program at North Carolina State University (NCSU), I thought it might be beneficial to prospective students to write a little bit about my experience in the program, specifically the opportunities the program has given me and what I have gained. Just in the past few weeks, I have landed my dream job working as an Actuarial Assistant for Allianz Life Insurance company.

So, how did I get here?

My undergraduate studies were in Actuarial Science and Statistics. I’ve always loved finding meaning in data and applying my mathematical skills in the “real world” in new and challenging ways. Risk management, insurance, and financial markets are subjects that continue to intrigue me. After earning my bachelors degree, I knew that there was a lot more that I wanted to learn about the mathematics behind risk and financial markets. What are the different kinds of exotic derivatives and how do they work? How do firms manage their exposures to various financial risks? What are the algorithms behind hedge funds? As an undergraduate, I wanted to know more about these questions; thus, I sought to increase my knowledge of quantitative finance through earning my MFM degree at NCSU.

I am so glad I decided to come to NC State and the MFM program for my graduate studies, as I give the program much of the credit for the success I have experienced in the past year and a half. The guidance and mentorship I have received from the MFM program director and the career services director have been extremely helpful and led to my amazing internship experience working as a programmer/modeler for an auto insurance company last summer.

Through volunteering for the program and attending program events, I have been able to meet industry professionals from banking, energy, insurance, risk management, and other technical fields.

As a student in the MFM program, I have received hands-on modeling experience in SAS and Matlab completing projects such as pricing exotic financial derivatives, and I have learned the fundamentals of asset pricing, stochastic processes (such as the stock market), and enterprise risk management.This education, along with my technical internship, has ultimately allowed me to secure my dream job where I will be able to merge my passions for risk management, insurance, and quantitative finance.

How did I “bridge the gap” between my education and finding the right job?

In short- networking through MFM program events and LinkedIn. As I gained experience, I updated my LinkedIn profile and joined groups relating to quantitative finance, actuarial science, insurance, and modeling.

Joining groups on LinkedIn turned out to be highly valuable for me. In fact, the day after I joined an actuarial / predictive modeling group, an actuary/director from Allianz Life posted a job advertisement to the group page and indicated that Allianz was looking to expand some of their actuarial positions. I jumped at the opportunity and applied on LinkedIn and through the Allianz web site. I also contacted the individual advertising the position through LinkedIn directly. This personal contact led to more personal contacts, which led to several phone interviews.

Eventually the phone interviews led to an in-person interview at the Allianz Life campus. During the interview, I highlighted my problem-solving, communication, and teamwork skills as well as my quantitative background, and my biggest selling point was the experience I had gained completing detailed and valuable programming projects for both the MFM program and my summer internship.

As a result of the successful interviews, I was offered and accepted a position as an Actuarial Assistant. In this role, I will work as a modeler and will have exposure to multiple business lines. I will be able to further improve my coding skills and knowledge of various financial and insurance products.

I hope my story helps to demonstrate the opportunities and skills the MFM program at NCSU provides and perhaps provides some encouragement to other students considering enrolling in the program. To new MFM students I would give the following pieces of advice:

1) Get involved with and volunteer for the MFM program

2) Utilize your program advisors and the Director of Career Services

3) Be very proactive with networking (LinkedIn)

4) Although you may not already have much quantitative experience, as you progress in your career, be aware of projects that highlight your analytical ability, communication skills, and teamwork, and use these as examples to leverage your skills to potential employers.