A student reached out to me and asked if I wanted to hear their experience applying to the Vanderbilt University MSF program and I thought that this sounds like something very helpful for anyone thinking about applying. Below is this students experience going through the application process at Vandy and their comments and suggestions. Think of this as a student review at the the beginning on the program vs the end of the program. Slightly different perspective and helpful for students in a different stage of their process.
Can you describe your background and why you wanted to apply to Vanderbilt?
I began my undergraduate degree in a non-business major; I did not realize until the end of my sophomore year that I wanted to pursue a career in Finance, specifically in Investment Banking. After switching majors, I managed to secure an internship in FP&A over the summer of my junior year; a valuable experience, yet I knew that recruiting for Investment Banking full time would be very difficult without a directly relevant summer internship, especially at a school without a very strong ‘name-brand’. I felt a bit overwhelmed, wishing that I had initially chosen a business degree at a school with more connections into finance & banking.
During my summer internship, I spoke to a friend of mine who pivoted from another finance function to Investment Banking via an MSF- that’s when the idea ‘clicked’ for me; if I could get into a top MSF program, it would give me another shot at getting into Investment Banking.
I personally researched three of the most established MSF programs (in my opinion) (Vanderbilt, MIT, and UT Austin), and ultimately only applied to the Vanderbilt MSF. The curriculum, career outcomes, and my conversations with many students and alumni are what peaked my interest and led me to apply.
Talk about the process. How was admissions, any issues, or things you’d like to praise/mention.
The admissions process was very thorough- they required several essays, letters of recommendation, and an interview. I believe high quality letters of recommendation as well as connecting with some of the students who were directly involved in interfacing with applicants were contributing factors in the success of my admission.
Throughout the process, I was thoroughly impressed by how involved the admissions committee was in providing responses to any questions or concerns I had; they offered many rounds of genuinely interesting and practical informational sessions over Zoom in which I had the opportunity to interact with faculty as well as students.
The overall student body was also immensely helpful in each stage of the process- I had phone calls with several students who gave advice to aid in my application, and even provided me with valuable connections for recruiting purposes which I believe will be of great value to me further down the road.
One point I will emphasize is the importance of being clear and specific about your career aspirations and how an MSF will help you achieve those goals; it’s a distinctly different approach than, for example, applications you submitted when applying to your undergraduate institution. I’d avoid ‘fluff’, and instead be clear and calculated in the way that you approach your essays and interviews.
Beyond technical skills, they also greatly value your written & oral communication skills- do a thorough job of carrying yourself in a composed and impressive manner- you can tell how much they value this just by observing the current and former classes.
Overall experience and whether you got accepted and do you plan on attending?
I was admitted into the program last month, and I do plan on attending. I have known for some time now that I would like to pursue a graduate level education, and the ability to go to such a high end institution directly out my undergraduate studies is extremely exciting. The opportunity cost is also lower relative to many other MSF programs given the fact that you will actually only be taking classes for 10 months, which was another contributing factor in my decision to attend.
Overall, I am extremely excited about this program and about the opportunities it will grant me. Many factors influenced my decision to attend: the immensely helpful faculty, the practical and unique curriculum and class offerings, the impressive student body, and the world class career services which I will be able to leverage in the future. I feel very confident in saying that this program will be of immense value for me to achieve my professional goals.
Thanks to the individual who took time out of their day to write this and to email me. I personally appreciate it and I know all of the people who come to my site do as well. I am going to try and get reviews of the application process for other schools as well. Anyways, I hope you found this helpful. More to come.
Here is a link to the Vanderbilt University MSF Program