The ICMA Centre is home to a diverse student populace from all over the world, with different interests, degrees, and backgrounds in finance, and all with promising futures in the working world. We spoke to two such students, Nick Pilkington and Ellis Murley, about what they think sets their degree at the University of Reading apart from the rest, and what they’ve enjoyed about their time here on campus.
What’s your favourite part about being a student at the ICMA Centre?
Nick: The support from the staff is invaluable. No problem is too big or small, the staff endeavour to give the best support to students, everyone from the lecturers, admin staff to the careers staff.
Ellis: My favourite part has to be the thing which sets ICMA apart: the uncontested access to practical study facilities. Having three separate dealing rooms and access to Bloomberg and Reuters terminals has enriched my learning experience here more than I could have imagined as a fresher. The practical element of the course has meant that I could apply the concepts I’m introduced to in lectures and is great in interviews as you can show them a portfolio breakdown or talk about what you can do on a Bloomberg terminal.
How have you found the study facilities at the ICMA Centre?
Nick: The environment is professional, well maintained and accessible. It is great that it is often even open on the weekends! There is plenty of study space and it’s great for the Centre to have its own coffee bar, much needed!
What do you think has been the most valuable experience you’ve had as part of your degree?
Ellis: Very difficult to answer, there have been so many! Either going for coffee with some of my lecturers because they were interested in me as a person (and this helped me learn that ‘networking’ and getting to know people is a lot of fun) or, my CMS (Career Management Skills) module in my second year. Tailored help with CVs, Cover Letters and support in finding where in Finance I would like to work was invaluable.
What advice would you give yourself if you had to do your degree all over again?
Nick: Learn a language. Although English is widely spoken, it would be beneficial in a globalised world and adds another string to your bow.
Ellis: Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get to know people. I wasn’t sure what to expect the first time I went for lunch with one of my lecturers. Not only was it extremely useful for finding out what it’s like in the real world, but it was just nice to chat with someone who shared the same interests as me. The fact that one of my lecturers had actually noticed me and took an interest made me feel very valued by the university and definitely personalised my university experience more than I would have expected.
What do you wish someone had told you as a new student?
Nick: Three years fly by. Make the most of it, seize every opportunity and throw yourself into university life.
How has having access to the dealing rooms impacted your degree/learning experience?
Ellis: I didn’t think the trading simulations were very realistic in my first year and didn’t necessarily understand why we did them. However, after working very closely with the traders on my internship I realised that the simulations are perhaps the most fundamental part of my learning here. Understanding how various financial instruments react to news, repricing them which making a profit/mitigating risk is fundamental to investment banking and was a skill I used lots on my internship (without realising I had even developed it!)
Have you attended any events at the ICMA Centre? What do you enjoy the most about them?
Nick: The most enjoyable part about them is the opportunity to listen to practitioners about current issues and their experiences. This helps students decide on the areas they wish to explore further and the route they take once completing their degree.
Ellis: For me, the most valuable aspect of all the events is how relevant they are to the industry. Having the opportunity to meet current practitioners, ask them questions and in some cases even go for follow up lunches helped me get comfortable with talking to people in the industry, discover/develop new paths of interest and have a more holistic view on the world of finance.