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  1. Arts and Social Sciences
  2. Economics
About City

Student views: Ismail Afara

How did you become interested in Financial Economics?

Financial markets were a usual topic of discussion at home. Quite often I was present at dinners and gatherings where adults would talk about the recent developments and news relating to stocks and currencies and what they expected would happen. I was always curious to know how they formed their judgements and the bases for their predictions. This sparked my curiosity and ever since I have been interested in finance in general.

My first encounter with this topic academically came through my economics classes while at school, and I saw this subject as the foundation and underlying structure of how markets function worldwide.

Studying financial economics at university was a natural progression for me. Having touched on economics previously, I was interested in studying and understanding the subject in more depth. Although it is fairly quantitative, I could see the practical applications on a daily basis. The study of economics goes hand in hand with the study of financial markets and this convinced me to choose a bachelor focusing on both disciplines.

Why did you choose City?

I chose to study at City for many reasons. Firstly, I decided I wanted to move to London. I wanted to immerse myself in my studies while living in the financial centre of the world. This decision was motivated by my desire to start anew, meet new people and benefit from the enriching diversity of people in London. The buzz of the city is contagious and opportunities to have fun are unlimited. City's location is great. It is very close to Angel which has any kind of restaurant or bar you could think of. If you walk south towards Old Street and Shoreditch at night you will find yourself in one of the liveliest regions of London. Generally speaking there is everything you need around Northampton Square. Additionally, the Square Mile is very close as well, within walking distance. This gives students the opportunity to attend many events in the City and more importantly companies very often come and organize events on campus.

Secondly, City's reputation is international; my careers advisors in Switzerland recommended I apply to City for my undergraduate studies. What stood out while I was contemplating whether to apply or not was the quality of the lecturers who teach in the Economics Department. The fact they are all researchers in their own discipline highlights the quality of teaching, and it is truly engaging to have an expert lecturing on a subject he thoroughly understands.

Finally, the content of this degree was a perfect match with what I wanted to study. It combined quantitative topics such as Econometrics with subjects such as Financial Derivatives and Macroeconomics. It has given me the opportunity to learn the tools needed to succeed in my career.

Any advice for someone considering this course?

Don't think twice. The content of this course is very interesting and the high calibre of enthusiastic and friendly lecturers makes studying here at City very enjoyable.

Have any lecturers been particularly helpful to you?

The Head of Department, Professor Michael Ben-Gad has been really helpful throughout my studies. Not only has he been an outstanding lecturer in Intermediate Macroeconomics during my second year, he was also available to answer any kind of queries I had during my three years at City.  Although he was very busy with his own work, he was always available by email at any time of the week - he answered many of my emails on a Saturday night when I had sent them only a few hours earlier. He helped us create the Debates in Finance Society and gave us ideas on how to run it. Like all the professors at City, you could knock on his door any time of the day and he would gladly help you with any problem you had. Even if it did not concern university at all, you could rely on him being present to help you and share his thoughts on the matter.

What's been your favourite module so far?

Global Financial Markets is the module I have enjoyed most so far. It gave me the perfect introduction to the kind of career I want. I enjoyed the lectures a lot, and Professor Keith Pilbeam made them fun and engaging. He was so successful at it you were glad to wake up early in the morning to attend.

City's ambition is to be in the top 2% of universities in the world by 2016. What will you be doing in 2016?

My ambition at this stage of my life is to be working in sales and trading on the floor of a major bank or hedge fund. I particularly enjoyed the social aspect of being on the floor throughout my internships, and the continuous interaction with clients and colleagues is a very appealing aspect of it.

How do you think City will help you with getting a job? 

The Careers Centre at City is as good as it gets. They organize very helpful and insightful events throughout the year, such as CV checks, workshops with corporations such as Barclays and Goldman Sachs, banking fairs, and mock interviews on campus.

Every day there is an opportunity to meet with an advisor regarding anything related to your career or postgraduate studies.

There is an online noticeboard that advertises full and part time jobs, work placements and internships available for City students. Without a doubt, City's reputation was helpful when it came to finding internships. I was able to successfully complete three internships in my two previous summers, working for a bank, a brokerage firm and a back office.