I can say that during the past 2 years I have grown a lot professionally and socially and because I am pursuing the same graduate program as I did in Albania, I can make a comparison between the two educational systems. I have noticed several differences between the two systems that allow for greater improvement of the student’s skillset and complete their professional image in the job market.
In US universities in general, and specifically at Brandeis University, where I am currently enrolled, providing the student with practical knowledge and professional communication abilities is considered as important as supporting the student with theoretical knowledge which is a traditional Albanian education approach. Personally, I have added a lot of new technical skills to my professional abilities portfolio. During my studies here, I have worked on different quants assignments in python, like pricing American style Equity Derivatives, pricing Asian and Barrier Equity Derivatives, Black Litterman model, computing forward interest rates, and pricing a CDS Curve Trade. Also, I have learned to create financial models which are used to forecast the potential future financial performance of a company by making relevant assumptions about how the firm or a specific project is expected to perform in the upcoming years. All the skills that I have gained in the past 2 years have been asked by job interviewers in different job applications that I have had up until now.
Despite the traditional class environment, Brandeis University offers different opportunities like webinars and external seminars from well-known professional companies that assure and validate the success of the student in the job market. In Albania, the lectures are usually focused on a general, pre-determined syllabus and rarely go beyond the topics covered by the approved program. Recently I have been part of a 2-day training from The Marquee Group, regarding Leveraged Buyout Modeling and Merger Modeling. These seminars help me in the critical thinking process and in collaborating with members of diverse cultures.
Other soft skills that I can mention are adaptability and creativity. Almost every class has at least one group project with a specified deadline and scope in which you are assigned, different team members. Coming from different cultures and backgrounds, I have heard some unimaginable, outstanding ideas from the members of the team regarding the outcome of our work. At the same time, I have learned to listen carefully to others and get used to working in a team. In Albania, group projects are almost inexistent or are done formally for academic purposes without adapting the topic to the real working environment, where the student would be able to practice some of the skills gathered during the lectures.
I have always felt the need to help people and one of my objectives is to contribute to the Albanian educational system and make Albanian students competitive not only in the Albanian and Balkan job market but also in the world. I would like to change all the above-mentioned issues in the Albanian educational system, and upon arriving in Albania I would like to engage by providing different professional seminars and training programs that would benefit all the Finance students seeking professional growth and new opportunities.
©️ Kris Hudhra is a MIP fellow, currently pursuing an MS in Finance at Brandeis International Business School, Waltham, Massachusetts