Fatma Othman

Royal Holloway

Final Year Student

What university and course did you study and what is your current situation?

I am currently a final year BSc Economics Student at the Royal Holloway University of London and I will be joining Nomura this June as a Summer Analyst in the Sales, Trading Structuring division.

How did you first get interested in finance?

Growing up, I had always thought I wanted to study Medicine, so I did A-Levels in Mathematics, Biology and Chemistry. Quickly into sixth form, I realised this was different from what I now wanted and sought other paths instead. I got accepted to the Morgan Stanley Step In Step Up programme, which drew me into working in the banking industry.

Within my first year of university, I came across Amplify and highly enjoyed their simulations – thrilling and intellectually stimulating; this led to my interest in trading as a career path.

When did you attend the AmplifyME Summer Analyst Training Programme?

I attended the AmplifyME Summer Analyst Programme in July 2022. As applications typically open towards the end of the summer and firms recruit on a rolling basis, doing it in July allowed me to start applying as soon as possible. Shortly after, I started receiving interview invitations and an offer from my first assessment centre!

What had been your experience of applying to roles in finance before attending the programme?

In my second year of university, I made numerous applications, and although I did get to the interview/assessment centre stages for some, I was highly unsuccessful. When receiving feedback from these firms, I was often told that it was due to my technical knowledge that I wasn’t offered the role.

Acknowledging this weakness led me to look into the Amplify programme to receive training, which was undoubtedly my best investment.

What part of the programme did you enjoy the most and how did it help you with your applications there after?

I loved how comprehensive the programme was, with each week dedicated to a finance industry sector, so it's hard to pick just one! The live trading competition with CME was exhilarating. Of course, there was that exciting thrill of competing with each other, but it also helped improve my understanding of markets by trading live news, like the July FOMC meeting.

By receiving training and applying my knowledge to the various simulations, the programme allowed me to bridge the gap between theory and practice, helping me with case studies and technical questions in interviews. After all, while textbooks and online courses are helpful, that's only foundational; the practical experience matters most to show that you can apply what you know.

You have mentioned before about imposter syndrome, what has been your experience of this?

Imposter syndrome is an internal experience, often rooted in social comparison, which leads to self-doubt about your accomplishments and not feeling capable enough. Unfortunately, this feeling could also deprive you of great opportunities you're capable of since you don't feel good enough to apply.

While I have had a great experience at my university, it isn't a target university for investment banking recruiting. Thus, during interviews and networking, I often compared my place in the room to the students from top universities and internships, which became a self-fulfilling prophecy as I worried more about comparison than proving myself instead! What I found very helpful was reframing my mindset and recognising that I was selected for a reason – if you weren't capable, they wouldn't invest time talking to you.

Another way is keeping a log of your accomplishments to reflect on, and the AmplifyME simulations are a great way to help with this. I appreciated that in the programme, your performance is based on your scores hence your ability rather than your background.

Receiving high scores helped challenge my imposter syndrome and motivated me to keep pushing forward with applications, as it affirmed that this is an industry where I'd thrive. Discussing my top scores in my resume also well positioned me for interviews as it was a great discussion point to discuss analysis used while proving what I'm capable of on the trading floor.

What advice would you pass onto any fellow students looking to secure a role in finance?

Remember that your academic background does not define your career success! While your education is important, it won’t matter if you can’t apply what you know. Being proactive goes a long way, so prove yourself with valuable experience, whether that’s through society positions, doing a sport, volunteering, or the Amplify simulations! Also, remember that often, it’s not those with the most experience that do well with applications but those who understand the craft of the process.

Therefore, it’s important to hone a strategy and understand how firms recruit, like when applications open, video interviews, psychometric testing, and perfect each step. I also found it incredibly helpful to create a spreadsheet of firms I have applied to track my progress while reflecting on where I was getting rejected. So, for example, if you notice that you keep getting rejected at the interview stage – take your time to hone your interview technique and improve your skillset.