MSc Experience: Virtual Placement During a Pandemic…

… by Luming / from Shanghai, China / MSc Computational Mathematical Finance / PG (2020 Graduate)

Hey, I am Luming and I am going to share my experiences about my MSc life in Edinburgh – when those beautiful, unique memories come back, I feel there is something worth sharing!

Everything started on the day that I received the offer from the School of Mathematics. I have had three years of my undergraduate studies here so I was so happy that I could stay in this beautiful city for one more year. I also decided to help new MSc students to get used to the life in this city.

At the beginning, I was worried that the MSc students wouldn’t find their sense of “belonging” here in Edinburgh since their time was comparably short and their studies were challenging that they would not have much time to explore the city. But I found I was totally wrong! Everyone in my programme seemed to have 100% enthusiasm about their life and studies here. They worked hard, played hard, made every minute of this year to be meaningful and valuable. I am so glad I had the experience working with those passionate people for different tasks from in-class model-building projects to preparing for the final exams.

Then, things changed so fast after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. University buildings were shut down, tutorials were cancelled, lectures were moved online. People started to worry about the unpredictable future. Fortunately, staff in the School were truly awesome. They solved these problems quickly by uploading recordings, providing excellent and detailed answers to students who had questions from tutorial worksheets and worked hard to support their students. Thanks to the School’s hard work, my study was not disrupted so much by Covid-19. Everything was going on schedule.

I was lucky enough to get an industrial placement which I thought would be cancelled this year due to the pandemic. This placement provided me with an invaluable opportunity to get real work experience and learn about finance from within. I worked with Moody’s Analytics on the topic of portfolio optimization. Although I could not go to their office in Edinburgh, I still worked closely with my industrial supervisor and learnt a lot from him. I believe I am the first student placed into this “remote placement”. Although I wish everything goes back to normal as soon as possible, I wanted to share some suggestions to those who might have a similar experience to my own.

First of all, don’t be disappointed if you cannot go to the office, there are still lots of things can be learned from the placement – the most valuable thing is an insight of industry which benefits you for your future career. Secondly, give 100% effort to your work, as it can be tricky working remotely, especially when you want to explain your math expressions or your codes so you have to work harder than usual. Lastly, don’t miss any opportunity to ask questions. You can only be improved by asking and you have such an excellent placement opportunity – don’t miss it!

There are still too many things worth sharing. This was a different year, an intense year and a memorable year. Even if there are 10,000 choices for me back in 2019, I will always choose to study in Edinburgh – for the classmates, School and city I love!