How this valedictorian found his passion at 5am in the morning

As an undergraduate, do you know exactly what you wish to do in the future? Or do you feel you have to stick to the norm and venture into paths that society has normalised? Well, we spoke to this graduate from Morgan Stanley who went straight into the path that society (at least in finance) idealises – a M&A analyst.

What was challenging was not the rigour, but it was the passion. Eventually he found his passion at the unlikeliest of timings – 5 am on the train. We spoke to him to understand more about his life journey, and here are 5 lessons that he learnt along the way:

A good GPA is not be-all and end-all, but it sure helps.

As a freshman who is sourcing for internships, you will mostly start with a bare resume. You may not have the relevant working/internship experience and you wonder how are you able to apply for an internship? The answer minimally is to have a good GPA.

Getting an internship has a few fundamentals, and academics is a building block. Having a good GPA helps you to secure a call for an interview, especially if you do not have any prior experience. A decent GPA reflects your ability to the interviewers in terms of how much knowledge you can retain in school, and this also parallels your abilities in the working world.

Start your pre-planning early.

After establishing your fundamentals in GPA your 2nd year will be a good time to start thinking of the kind of profile you will want in the future. By starting early, it prepares you for the internship applications in the 2nd year of your studies, which is crucial for you.

This period is significant as it allows you to source for internships, which are a good avenue for you to gain relevant working experience in the future. Therefore, start planning your profile ¾ what kind of persona do you want to show to the interviewers? What kind of background do you want to have on your resume?

For this graduate, he established a strong finance profile that enable him to be company agnostic within the finance sector.

5 Tips When You Are Figuring Out Your Passion

Practice more before your interviews.

Surprise to hear that a valedictorian practices for an interview, right? But its true, interviews and tough regardless of who you are.

He recommends developing a personal interview guidebook and have a set of guidelines for yourself! Practicing more helps you to structure your responses well and clearly. You can work on common interview questions like ‘Tell me about yourself’  or ‘What are your strengths/weaknesses?’. These are some examples of common questions that may surface during interviews. Alternatively, you can work on questions that you think you are weak in. Write your answers on a paper to craft out a structured response.

Through numerous practices, you will eventually be confident to give a structured response without any stumbles! (In fact, he shares his playbook in the podcast)

Take the initiative during your internship.

An intern’s usual duties are to fulfil tasks that are set by supervisors and other ad hoc duties. But, why not take the initiative to do more than what has been tasked for you?

Go beyond your intern’s duties such as volunteering to handle some things or starting a new system that will benefit the company overall. It does not have to a mind-blowing system. It can be something simple such as taking notes on behalf of another department to speed up the efficiency! At the same time, you get to learn even more things in the industry.

This is exactly what this graduate did – opening morning meetings on behalf of junior traders as a new opportunity.

Have the relevant knowledge and know the field well.

One advantage when it comes to most interviews is to be equipped with the relevant knowledge and know the field of the industry well! When you have prior experience and knowledge of the job or industry, it is easier to hold a conversation with the hiring managers during the interview.

The graduate credited his success for clinching the internship at Morgan Stanley to his 6-month long internship, which provided him with the relevant knowledge and skills. As such, he was able to engage the interviewers actively during the session!

If you find these tips useful, check out our full article here and follow us for more interviews (Amazon, Unilever etc.) coming your way.

This article is exclusively written for INTERNSG by: Guang Jin (Grehg) YEO, the creator of the podcast 1 Foot In. The podcast introduces the listeners to someone who has made it into the top/fastest growing companies in the world. From what they did in university, tips & tricks during the resume & interviews and things they wished they could have done if they were to do it all over again.

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