Honza, you are quite a fresh graduate, how would you evaluate the IES, what would you improve, what you missed and what would you recommend?
Clearly, studies at IES influenced the way I think about and solve problems. During the course of Mathematics taught by Michal Johanis I learned how to be intellectually patient and divide the problem into several subsections which often enabled me to get to a reasonable solution. Overall, I would say that the courses of Mathematics have been crucial to my intellectual development at IES and even though it may sound surprising, there is no such both intellectually and time demanding course at LSE. Similarly, I really enjoyed the course of econometrics taught by Ladislav Krištoufek – the learnings from this course are truly important in every graduate-level program of economics or finance. My interest in finance at IES was further strengthened by Jiří Novák and his fantastically interactive course “Financial Accounting”. Above all, at IES I had an opportunity to meet fantastic people, both classmates and professors, with many of whom I am still in contact.
Altogether, I would say that IES provides one with a very solid quantitative basis which is useful in pursuing almost any career - be it academia, consulting or banking. The thing that is however little bit missing is more courses with an emphasis on teamwork. I believe that to know how to work with people is crucial and unfortunately at IES the final grade is often not dependent on team projects. Also, in my view, a greater emphasis should be on the development of presentation skills because they play a key role in most interviews.
You just finished your one-year studies at the LSE. What is the difference between this studies and the studies in the Czech Republic?
Experience at LSE is truly a way different from IES. This is clear from the structure of the one-year program where the main focus is on landing a dream job – there are a lot of CV review sessions, case training, mock interviews, and other possibilities how to prepare for the whole application process. This is true especially during the fall term because by Christmas most people already have found some job and so the focus of the program becomes more academic. However, even in the spring, LSE is much less time demanding than IES. That leaves one a lot of time to pursue other activities, such as student societies. In fact, there are over 100 of them at LSE – ranging from a fine wine-tasting society to a blockchain one.
Speaking of my course, there are 2 mandatory modules in the fall term and then the student can choose to specialize either in corporate finance or asset markets. Overall, the modules required a lot more teamwork and presentations than at IES. It was truly enlightening to work in a team with an Iranian, German and Indian element at once – this is, in my opinion, the main benefit of London and LSE. Also, the professors at LSE usually are the top world researchers within their area of interest. This does not imply that the quality of teaching is necessarily better than IES throughout all courses but 2 courses focused on corporate finance & investments led by professor Dirk Jenter and Daniel Ferreira (see their lectures on Youtube) had an extremely high standard.
How would you assess the year at the LSE, what was the most interesting there?
Overall, LSE lived up to my expectations. I was fortunate to meet fantastically smart people with different backgrounds – maths, engineering or arts – with whom I have established nice relationships. This is actually the most important experience of the year for me.
Concerning the academic part, I really enjoyed some courses focused on corporate finance as they were led not only by leading professors in the world but above all, also by fantastic and enthusiastic individualities. The courses were taught not as standard lectures but rather as a discussion between the professor and the students – a style similar to the one of Jiří Novák at IES.
You are interested in Fintech, how did you moved on in this field during the last year, after the graduating at the IES? Did you get more to the center of coverage, when you lived in England?
I became interested in Fintech when I started studying at IES. Even before moving to London, I had a fantastic opportunity to work at Rockaway Blockchain which specializes in investments in crypto space. Then I joined Zelig Associates which is a boutique advising Fintech entrepreneurs on capital raisings. I was doing a lot of research particularly concerning Banking as a Service (BaaS) and neobanks. To me, it seemed incredible how many Fintech startups there are, mostly in London, and the whole space seemed really vibrant to me. Also, At LSE I joined the Blockchain Society and have seen some leading figures in the space presenting their ideas at our events.
Now, the internship is before you, how did the recruitment work, could you describe the situation on the foreign labor market?
In general, LSE graduates who studied finance apply almost exclusively for two areas - Investment Banking and Management Consulting. It is very difficult at least to get an interview at the top companies in these areas (it is necessary to have a good CV with brand names and pass the tests). In the interviews, general readiness, technical knowledge and, to some extent, sympathy are decisive. London's admission procedure takes place very early (often in August for the next summer), in Germany it is mostly spring and the situation is more flexible in Prague. It is also worth noting that in London, the journey to jobs in top companies often leads almost exclusively through standardized summer internships. On the contrary, in continental Europe, there are more internships outside the summer window (off-cycle) and it is usual to apply directly for full-time graduate roles.
This topic is actually really broad and we have recently tried to summarize it with Jakub Čermák and Evžen Harant in a presentation that we will gladly send you.
What about your free time? What are you looking forward to most during the summer?
The exams at LSE ended already in early June and so I had time to travel to North Africa and the Middle East. In the rest of the holidays I want to read (no textbooks) and travel around the Central Europe before the start of my internship.
In conclusion, I would like to add that if anyone is keen on speaking for example about LSE or career possibilities afterward, feel free to contact me.