The master’s student: a balancing act.
I graduated from the University of Exeter in July 2020 with a first-class degree in Economics and Finance.
As a former French National champion in the sport of track cycling, I have found I always thrive in dynamic and competitive environments and have always been fascinated by the concept of trading. However, I never committed to acquiring complete knowledge of one particular asset – until last year.
I boarded an aircraft and asked myself: “Where does Jet Fuel come from? How does it get to the aircraft? Where was it produced?” The more I looked into the energy industry, the more my fascination for the physical market grew.
I quickly realised that the energy industry is where my interests lie and wanted to expand my knowledge. So I looked into which master’s programme was the most reputable in the energy industry and applied to the MSc Energy, Trade and Finance at the Business School (formerly Cass).
Uni, studying at home & job applications; how have i handled it?
So far, it has been a challenging academic year; not because of the studies themselves but because of everything surrounding them. The material provided by the professors is of very high quality. But, in my opinion, because there is no set limit on the length of a “pre-recorded” lecture, they provide a lot more content. Whilst this additional content is great, it means there is a lot of material to get through.
This combined with the occasional lack of motivation from working at home has been quite difficult at times- something I am sure many students have experienced this year. I have stayed motivated by constantly reminding myself of the reason I am doing this degree: to gain knowledge and, ultimately, to get a job offer by a top company.
Which brings me to the additional task of juggling studies and job applications. In all honesty, I have not always managed the studies and the job search very well but have learned some useful tips along the way which I’d like to share with you:
Make a list: I started the job search over the summer by creating an excel file with the names of the companies I wanted to apply to, the link to the website and the link to the job description. This really facilitated the applications during term time.
Take your time: When the time came to complete psychometric tests, pre-recorded interviews, assessment centres, I set aside time from my studies to focus on these and complete them. This makes it much easier than trying to balance both at the same time.
Stay focused: Perseverance is key with job applications. The hardest part, mentally, was that out of 20-30 job applications, I only heard back from 10! It is no doubt that this is a challenging time to find a job, but with the right mindset you can identify the best opportunities for you.
In the end, I had 4 final interviews and was offered 2 positions. One at Trafigura and one at Equinor.
I have accepted the position at Equinor, where I will be part of the Trading and Optimisation branch with a focus on Natural Gas. Knowing that I have secured a position with an excellent company for when my degree ends is a huge relief. I can now focus on my studies – just in time for January exams!
Energy & commodities club
In October, I was elected Joint-President of the Energy and Commodities club. I decided to apply for this position for 2 reasons:
- I do not have any experience in energy and a position like this shows that I am keen be part of energy, so it packs my CV with relevant experience.
- I was Vice President and Social Secretary of the Exeter University’s Amateur Boxing Club… I couldn’t graduate from uni without a presidency position!
This year, I decided that the club’s focus was to create a platform where past, present and future students can connect and engage in discussions. Previously, the club had no active Facebook page, no active Linkedin and used solely the internal Business School webpage. So we have created pages on these social media channels, where we post all the information regarding the club and our opinions regarding current industry news.
In addition, I want to provide all my peers with more market awareness. It is of upmost importance to stay up to date with industry news; especially when doing interviews. So, the club has started posting monthly newsletters with the most recent macro news.
Our objective for term 2 is to host a few virtual Q&A’s from industry professionals, a futures trading simulation and a ‘unnamed’ company office visit (Covid-19 permitting).
If you are interested in the energy industry, follow our pages:
Luck or not?
Ultimately, this year has been pretty tough for students all over the world and most people are writing it off due to “bad luck”. My story is here to tell you that you can make the most of these challenging situations and that it is up to you to make your own luck in life.
Happy new year!
Tom England, MSc Energy, Trade and Finance (2021)