Alumni Answers: Jin Xu ’13, MS in Finance

The following is a Q&A with Jin Xu, a 2013 graduate of Simon’s MS in Finance program and market risk modeler at Freddie Mac. We caught up with Jin on a recent trip back to Rochester during which she spent time mentoring current Simon students.

Jin.XuTell us a little about you and your career since you left Simon.
About six years ago, I finished my internship as a risk analyst for a commodity trading desk at Washington Gas here in DC as I was completing my last semester of studying remotely. I graduated from Simon with an MS in Finance degree in 2013 and went on to my first full-time position in Chicago as a credit risk modeler at Northern Trust. I then came back to DC for a model validator position at E-Trade, and now I’m working as a market risk modeler at Freddie Mac, focusing on the prepayment modeling in the mortgage industry.

How did you know Simon was right for you?
As an international student with a general business management background, I was looking for a program that could not only further my study in the field of finance but could also equip me with advanced and tangible quantitative skillsets so that I would be better prepared for a job market that’s moving towards the direction of big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

Who impacted you the most while you were at Simon and why?
Professor John B. Long, who taught the Futures, Options, and Derivatives Markets class, and Assistant Professor Diana Knyazeva, who taught the Financial Institutions class, helped tremendously with my academic studying at the time and, in particular, ignited my interest and passion in the field of risk management, which is the career path I’ve been traveling on for the past six years.

Fill in the blank: While you are in Rochester, you absolutely have to ____________.
Practice networking. The reason I mentioned “to practice networking” instead of “to network” is because networking, just as everything else, really is a learning process. The earlier you start practicing by reaching out to and communicating with alums and hiring companies, the better prepared you are when the real deal comes along. Networking is such an essential skill in the work place that you will not only need it to land a job, but you’ll also need it to advance your career while at your job.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I’m a big fan of playing sports and working out. I play basketball, tennis, and golf regularly. This past summer, I went to a few 5K/10K runs organized by my company. I’m also a member of the board for our community’s homeowners’ association and volunteer my time to help manage the matters of the community from operational, financial, and social perspectives.

What would you say was your most memorable Simon experience?
I often talk to Wendy Clay, executive director of the Benet CMC, about my very first on-site interview experience in the US and how nervous I was throughout that entire process. I still vividly remember the time when I received the phone call one afternoon from Wendy telling me about this interview opportunity with Barclays Investment Bank and how it was set up with the help of an alum’s wife. I remember how I was still nervously asking Wendy about potential interview questions on the bus from Rochester to NYC the night before the interview. Even though I didn’t get that job in the end (a classmate of mine actually did), it was great comfort and encouragement to know that as a student at Simon, you’ll always have access to all the resources and help you need to succeed when the right opportunity comes along.

What is your advice for prospective students? Or what was the best piece of advice you received?
Stay very close to the Benet CMC and try to participate in every event they organize, if possible. The Benet CMC is going to be one of the most important “windows” students have opening towards the real outside world. Whether it’s alums coming back to share their experiences or programs organized to take students on corporate treks—every opportunity is valuable because they are part of the real world experience you gain at Simon. To this day I’m benefiting from things I’ve learned at the seminars the career center organized back when I was at Simon. Stay active and stay outside of your comfort zone with the Benet CMC’s guidance.

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