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How a dual degree prepared me for a career in finance
Jan 4, 2022

A dual degree allows students study their degree at more than one school. Students spend one year of their two-year programme at the main school, and the second academic year at a partner school, gaining two separate degrees at two schools.

Tsinghua University in mainland China offers a range of dual degree programmes in partnership with prestigious universities around the world.  

Tsinghua alumnus Mingyu Zhang completed the dual degree to help him progress in his career as a derivatives trader. As part of the two-year programme, Mingyu Zhang achieved an MBA at Tsinghua University and a master’s in operations research at Columbia University in the US.

TopMBA spoke to Mingyu about how the dual degree helped him in his career.


Build on previous work experience

Before deciding to study the dual degree programme at Tsinghua, Mingyu had already started building his career. He worked as a quantitative analyst in a hedge fund.  

Having completed a bachelor’s in engineering, Mingyu used his strengths in technology, quantitative analysis and modelling to progress his career in finance.  

However, Mingyu faced challenges when trying to explain complex, technical terms to some of his clients. He wanted to improve both his financial knowledge and soft skills to further his career.  

The dual degree at Tsinghua University was an obvious choice for Mingyu, who wanted to take advantage of the connections and opportunities offered by a top university in China but also wanted to experience studying abroad.  

Tsinghua University is one of the most renowned institutions in China with a century's history. Studying at Tsinghua means accessing the great students, reputed alumni, and top industry resources in China. The dual degree provided by The Tsinghua Global MBA program is partnered with the top universities worldwide such as Columbia University, MIT, and HEC.  

The dual MBA combined the management practice from Tsinghua’s MBA with the technical expertise in financial engineering at Columbia. This enabled Mingyu to enter the derivatives trading industry after graduation.

What stood out to Mingyu is how students can engage with each other and integrate with the differences around them. Mingyu benefited from the diversity of Tsinghua’s global MBA, which boasts 80 students from 15 countries in one cohort.  

“I opened my mind and got used to working with people from different countries and industries through intensive interaction and teamwork,” he said.  

The combination of the MBA at Tsinghua University and the master’s in operation research at Columbia meant that Mingyu was able to become a much more well-rounded professional. “In my daily work, I gained a competitive advantage based on combined strength of the technical expertise and general business,” he said.  

Use the university’s careers department to secure valuable work experience  

While completing his degree, Mingyu completed a summer internship in Citic Securities, the largest investment bank in China, working as a derivatives trader. This internship was a vital step for Mingyu in his career, as the investment bank kept Mingyu on after the internship.  

Tsinghua’s career support played a large part in helping Mingyu land his dream job. The school’s Career Development Centre (CDC) offers a range of resources to help MBA students achieve their career goals. These include career evaluation, career-focused modules, career counselling, career trips and career fairs.  

The CDC also provides valuable industry connections for students, with around 120 company campus presentations each year and more than 2000 job postings at CDC online.

Mingyu explains how he benefited from the CDC at Tsinghua SEM (School of Economics and Management): “The CDC instructor, Ms Lina, instructed me to write down my ideal career portrait and helped me make a SWOT analysis of my career competitiveness. When I got an offer from Citic Securities, I found it fitted my ideal job portrait, so I accepted it without any hesitation.”  

Mingyu added: “What impressed me most is that how hard work and considerate service provided by CDC staff. My instructor Ms. Lina followed up with everyone regularly with sufficient communication no matter how many students she worked with.  

“Thanks to the CDC’s support and responsible way of work, I finally find my dream job to pivot my career from quantitative analysis to derivatives trading.”

Expand your professional network

A dual degree expands network of MBA students, giving them the opportunity to connect with a wide and diverse array of people from around the world.  

Mingyu said: “As a university-affiliated business program, the Tsinghua Global MBA program provides students opportunities not only from the business school but also the network, with a diverse array of people from a range of disciplines, including regulators, leading scholars and business leaders across multiple sectors from broader Tsinghua university.”

At Tsinghua, students can also take advantage of the frequent talks given by prominent industry professionals, such as senior Chinese government officials, top global industry experts and successful entrepreneurs were invited to Tsinghua SEM for courses, lectures, and sharing.  

Mingyu was able to build professional relationships with industry professionals in lectures, on study trips and during Integrative Practical Projects.

Studying at Tsinghua gave Mingyu access to the university’s 300,000 alumni which span across 60 countries. “There is a very big Tsinghua and Columbia alumni group in the finance industry in China,” he said.

By Chloe L


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