After two years working in finance, Adam decided to study applied econometrics to pursue his interest in statistics and maths.
What led to you studying the Master of Applied Econometrics (Enhanced)?
For my undergrad, I did a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in finance. I did a bit of statistics and maths – I was very interested in that quantitative side of it, and it made me want to study it more.
After graduating, I worked for an airline, first in their finance graduate program and then as a financial analyst. I enjoyed the work, but I wanted to have a bit of a career change and pursue that passion I have for statistics and math. So that's why I came back to study. I've always wanted to do a masters as well, and I feel like if I left it a bit longer, I might not have come back.
There are a couple of reasons that I chose to come study at the University of Melbourne. The first is the quality of the academics teaching here, they’re some of the best in their field. On top of that, there’s the prestigiousness of the degree – the industry recognises the quality of the degrees that are offered by the University of Melbourne. So put those two together and here I am.
How was the transition from work back to study?
I slightly underestimated how time-consuming it would be! It’s definitely doable, you just need the right schedule and to be organised.
It’s been about three years since my undergrad, and the first few weeks back at university were quite challenging. It’s very different from the challenges in the workplace. At university, you’re learning new things every day, whereas in a job, you do learn along the way, but it’s never as intense. So, rewiring your brain to learn new things consistently is a bit challenging, but once you get back in the groove its fine.
My advice for a smooth transition is to take a few weeks’ break between work and commencing study to clear your mind. Learn a little soft skill or read a book to get your brain back in the habit of learning, and do that every day up until you start studying. That will help to rewire your brain to start absorbing large amounts of knowledge.
What has been your experience with the course?
A few things have surprised me, but they've been good surprises. For example, the range of mathematics that we've been taught – I thought it would just be one topic but we've touched on multiple topics in mathematics. You’re also doing other things like reading case studies and working closely with classmates, so it's wider than just mathematics and statistics.
From day one, I've been working in groups across pretty much all my units and that really allows you to collaborate and get different perspectives on the topics. If you're struggling with one area, someone might be able to help you and vice versa.
Applied econometrics has a strong theoretical component because it has a lot of assumptions underpinned by math and statistics, but the academics apply that theory to plenty of real-life examples so you get that practical aspect as well. The academics have a really good balance of having both industry knowledge and a really good academic background. Some have come from industry to work at the University, which is really amazing, and you can see that technical expertise in the way that they're teaching, which really helps you learn.
What skills have you gained from the course?
Critical thinking is a huge one. For example, in econometrics, before you even get the data you have to sort of formulate your ideas and know how you’re going to approach a problem and ask a question before you go and find the evidence, and that’s a very scientific approach.
There’s also communication skills, because you’re having to communicate these really complex topics in layman's terms in your assignments, exams and group work.
You served as President of the Melbourne Business School Student Association (MBSSA) for a Semester. What was that like?
The MBSSA organises activities for more than 3,000 Melbourne Business School students. I was a beneficiary of these types of programs as an undergrad student, so I thought it would be good to give back to other students, so I ran for and was appointed President in my second semester.
The role has numerous responsibilities, first and foremost directing a team of about 35 people. On top of that you're doing a lot of external collaboration – collaboration with other clubs, reaching out to sponsors, and and liaising with the university.
There are quite a few soft skills that I've developed while I've been President. The first is learning to delegate and manage people better. I didn’t have much opportunity to do that while I was working, so coming back to university and having that opportunity is really good. On top of that, I've been able to really improve my communications skills. The committee is very diverse and is made up of people from multiple cultures and countries, so being able to communicate with people from different backgrounds has been a good skill that I've developed.
Where do you hope this degree will take you?
I'm being pulled in two directions. I want to go back into the finance industry. I’m hoping potentially to move into more of a quantitative role, maybe the quantitative side of investing, or perhaps some kind of actuarial role in an insurance company. But a part of me really wants to stay at university and do a PhD and eventually teach at the University of Melbourne.