My FRP: Familiar Place, Less-than-familiar Experience

It’s hard to believe that a year ago I had the chance to interview at MIT Sloan for the MFin program.  Unsurprisingly, a lot has changed. For one, I can get around campus much quicker, and I know which building ‘e62’ is. Remarkably, however, much has not changed. Most important of which is that the sense of privilege I carried while interviewing at this institution has not waned.

Unique to MIT, the month of January has been traditionally reserved for students to hone on their skills and continue their learning outside the classroom. This Independent Activity Period, or IAP for short, is in full effect at the Sloan school and business students have been engaged with tremendous projects over the years.

The MFin program at MIT Sloan requires students to participate in at least one type of an “Action Learning” course – either one of the Proseminars in Capital Markets/Corporate Finance (taken during the fall term) and/or the Finance Research Practicum (FRP), taken during IAP. As a prospective student, it was quite hard for me to fully grasp what the FRP would be like.

The FRP is taken as a course during IAP and the first half of the spring term. During January, however, learning does not occur in the classroom. Students are assigned to company sponsors based on their preferences, backgrounds, and interests (ranking done in December). The projects themselves typically are done in groups of 3-4 students, and teams can include MBAs, LGOs, undergrads or Sloan Fellows, as well as MFins.

My project was with Fidelity Investments, a top 5 asset management company with over $2 Trillion in Assets Under Management and headquarters in Boston. This has been an opportunity to get hands-on, practical Finance research experience while being guided and mentored by accomplished individuals at Fidelity. We worked with the Asset Allocation Research Team and had weekly phone calls as well as on-site meetings to track our progress. Our group was tasked with finding macroeconomic factors that could best explain equity returns in Emerging Markets dating back over 20 years – and then attempt to forecast returns for the next 10-20 years. The first week included literature research on the topic, and following weeks were primarily devoted to data analysis.

This experience has been very beneficial and I think it epitomizes the sense of privilege I mentioned most students feel while at this institution.  As a piece of advice, I really believe the FRP returns to students what they are willing to invest in it. For example, it is a great opportunity to engage with software that we would not otherwise use in the classroom, as well as get to know industry professionals and what they do up close. Those two things are not a given and must be sought. Additionally, FRP instructors and teaching assistants meet with groups weekly and provide ongoing support.

Being on campus in January is fun, as well – especially when you get to watch a historic Superbowl match and witness it from your dormitory’s bar…

Ashodown Bar, Grad Housing

Prudential Center Tower in Boston, Superbowl night

Lior Scheinbach

Lior is a candidate in the MFin program, class of 2017. Lior completed his undergraduate degree in the Medical sciences in Canada. He enjoyed his experience at the Smith School of Business last summer and gained valuable experience in banking prior to arriving to Cambridge. Despite the opinion of most, Lior maintains he has a sense of humor and does his best to keep active in his spare time — even though his athletic talents proved uncompetitive long ago.

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