Illinois Institute of Technology
Master of Science in Financial Markets (Financial Engineering & Programming Concentration)

Essay A:
Why do you wish to pursue graduate study in the program to which you are applying? Discuss how you believe graduate studies will contribute to your professional goals.

In May 20XX, having worked at Bell Labs China (Lucent) for two years as a software engineer, I switched to Sun Microsystems China Engineering and Research Institute (ERI), where I soon served as team leader and main developer in project JDesktop Integration Components (JDIC). In an effort to provide Java developers with handy tools to access common desktop functions, we employed Java Native Interface technology to provide utility Java APIs based on layered Java wrapper and C++ native codes on several popular Operating Systems. The project was a huge success—it has been proudly accepted and incorporated into Java 6.0 SDK, as one of the most powerful tools for innumerable global Java developers.

This achievement is just one of the many highlights of my professional career heretofore. It exposed me to my potential to be on the cutting-edge of the global IT industry and make crucial contributions to it. It is of defining significance by bringing me to the center of the global IT arena and becoming a leader in a particular field. Now, it is precisely with this aspiration to be a future leader that I apply for acceptance into your esteemed program of Financial Markets with concentration on Financial Engineering and my close examination of past academic and professional achievements convinces me of my worthiness as the right candidate for the right program.

Financial Engineering, as an interdisciplinary field involving the tools of applied mathematics, financial and economic theory, the methods of engineering and the practice of programming, perfectly matches my backgrounds in many important ways. My 6-year professional career in the IT industry at the world’s two leading global corporations is certainly an important plus–plentiful C++ and Java experience, insightful architecture knowledge and sound practice in software engineering. Apart from honing my professional skills, the best part of working at such leading multinationals is the enhancement of interpersonal communication in a multicultural environment. However, more immediately relevant to your program is my development of the Financial Information System for the Three-Gorges Financial Company, which oversees the financial operations of the world’s largest water conservancy project. The project initiated me into the world of finance. In designing the accounting module, I sought a period of intensive training in accounting, gaining in-depth understanding of diverse finance functions that enabled me to consummate the system. With my demonstrated IT engineering expertise, I came to the attention of Mr. Liu XXX, a professor of information economics from my alma mater, who collaborated with me on studying and publishing about the hedging performance of copper futures in Shanghai Futures Exchange, involving two complicated hedging models. Hence, even before undertaking formal training in Financial Markets, I have already integrated my multi-disciplinary knowledge and skills in financial engineering endeavors.

All my professional achievements and my financial development and research undertakings would have been impossible without my full 6.5-year most rewarding academic career at Beijing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics (BUAA) whose School of Computer Science and Engineering is ranked among top 3 in China. As an undergraduate and a Master’s student, I did many dozens of foundational, specialized and core courses in CS, covering the entire major fields of the subject. In particular, I developed strong programming skills and productive engineering mentality through my active extracurricular software practice activities. What is special about my education is that I not only underwent such a long immersion in rigorous academic training in CS but also came up with distinguished performance. My GPA reached 3.70 for undergraduate program, ranking top 1 in the entire grade. My academic excellence is further demonstrated in the two honors I received in the graduate program—“Excellent Thesis” & “Excellent Graduate of BUAA,” which represent the highest honors that a graduate student at BUAA could ever aspire to.

Comprehensive and rigorous mathematics training has always been essential to students of CS. Indeed, the rigorousness of the math training as I underwent was virtually comparable to that of a mathematics major. Put together, all the math courses I did already meet the math prerequisites of a typical FE program and my academic transcripts should indicate I excelled in almost all of them. My rich math knowledge proved immensely powerful when, in my Master’s thesis project, I applied modeling, calculus, probability, and statistics to demonstrate the validity and superiority of the network topology simulation model I proposed. Furthermore, in a more recent research, I self-studied Error Correction Model and applied it successfully to the comparative analysis of hedging ratios and performances under different models. Hence, my mathematics and statistics aptitudes should also constitute my equally crucial assets that guarantee my constructive completion of your program.

My interest in finance came gradually. From my investment experience in U.S. stock market, I realize that a stock portfolio can effectively diversify an investment, offset risks and create profitability. To impose some kind of order on the fickle financial market, I have been reading leading publications on international and domestic financial markets. Through all those years, this interest has now evolved into a determined pursuit for specialized knowledge and expertise in the field. Beyond being a specialist in IT industry, I would like to pursue a unique generalist-specialist combination—a generalist with specialized multi-disciplinary knowledge ready to work as senior analyst, consultant or developer of advanced financial instruments. With my level-headed knowledge of all my relevant backgrounds, I am convinced that such an aspiration is entirely feasible.

This aspiration is feasible for other important reasons. A tentative study plan would allow me to go about my study productively and fruitfully. I expect that your program can expand my intellectual efforts in formal and systematic financial engineering. My greatest learning need is to assimilate sufficient knowledge in finance (like Financial Instruments, Portfolio management, risk management or pricing theory) and math (like stochastic calculus) to allow for greater precision and depth in my computational analysis and modeling. With the aim to trim my quantitative and industry engineering skills specifically for financial engineering purposes, I will improve and integrate my knowledge in four major fields of financial engineering for innovative and effective solutions.

I believe graduate studies will contribute to my professional goals in a number of important ways. The in-depth knowledge in financial engineering would give me insights into the structure of the financial industry, business rules, and the relationship between related factors. My advanced training in mathematics would allow me to grasp the mathematical nature of the financial products and to perform advanced quantitative analysis. The most important outcome of my graduate studies might be the improvement of my industry engineering skill and experiences. Based on my IT background, I will acquire expertise in applying mathematical software tools and financial analysis software, with special emphasis on how to flexibly apply those tools to solve engineering problems. I will also exploit my background in software engineering to develop software tools geared to the special needs of particular financial engineering purposes. During my graduate studies, I will seek internship opportunities so that I will become familiar with the organizational structure, corporate culture and workflow of a typical financial company, which can help me immediately integrate into the work environment after graduation. Bearing in mind that China will be my ultimate professional arena, I will fully leverage my graduate studies to gain unique international perspectives to examine the Chinese financial market, its institutional reforms, developments, and the presentation of new products. This will help me abridge the gap between the Chinese financial market and the world market and to better perform as an international player.

In a word, I have high ambitions to fulfill through your prestigious program. In my usual well-planned manner, I have examined every aspect of my academic and professional qualifications and have looked into the prospects of my future career development. Such introspection convinces me that your program comes at the right time of my envisioned professional transformation. It is bound to give me new impetus and added momentum for career growth. Therefore, I would like to present myself for your most rigorous scrutiny, under the belief that I am the right candidate for the right program.


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