Interview with SMF Student Zenan (Nanson) Wang

I thought that for this blog post, I would share a different perspective than the one I’ve been sharing all year long! Meet fellow SMF student Zenan (Nanson) Wang.  Nanson gave a lot of thoughtful answers to my questions and specifically talked about his experience as a Chinese student in the SMF program.  Enjoy!

Q:         Where are you from and what was your background before coming to Fisher?

A:         I am from Suzhou, China, and I received a bachelor’s degree in finance from Soochow University.  I also worked a six-month internship at a commercial bank in China.  In my internship, I worked in fields ranging from marketing to risk management.

Q:         Why did you choose the SMF Program?

A:         I chose the SMF program for the good reputation and rankings of Fisher, four different tracks that enabled me to choose my preference, the enthusiasm of the recruiting personnel, and finally, the scholarship offered by the program.

Q:         What have been some of the biggest adjustments for life in the U.S. and specifically, Columbus?

A:         I am the kind of person who can adjust to a new environment quite easily. However, I have to say it is not easy to live in an all-English environment since my English, especially my listening, is not quite good enough to understand everything. Thus, I sometimes felt lost when others talked to me, especially during the early months in the U.S.  I don’t want to be rude by not responding, but I really don’t know how to properly respond. Plus, in the U.S., it is very important to express my ideas, thoughts, and feelings. So, it can be tough when I find I can express those in Chinese but not in English– and my English skill becomes a limitation.

Q:         What have been your favorite and least favorite things about your time in the program?

A:         Favorite: When I get inspired from other people, including professors, classmates, and teammates. Least favorite: when I have to deal with many things due at the same time– and for some of these things, I have to wait until others complete their parts even though I have finished mine quite in advance.

Q:         What has been your favorite course and who has been your favorite professor?

A:         Favorite course: Derivatives. Both Derivatives 1 & 2. It is pretty exciting for me to learn something technical. Favorite professors – Professor Pirim because his data analysis class was really fun to me. I also like Professor Oglevee a lot, since I always get inspired from him and I learned the great importance of dealing with uncertainty from him.

Q:         Did you choose an area of specialization?  If so, what area and why?

A:         Yes, I picked half investment management and half risk management. First of all, I am very interested in investing, and I have tried investing in China during my undergraduate studies. Thus, I wish to learn more about this area. Plus, the financial market changes every second, so it is always exciting to face different challenges for every moment. Then, for risk management: since the financial crisis, risk management has always been a hot topic and it seems everyone has known the significance of it. Thus, it is very important to learn at least some of this area. Also, I feel this field is quite exciting. It is a field that requires one to know the financial markets, the law and regulation, the operation in many markets, and people. It can be really interesting to step into this integrated field.

Q:         How has your career search been going? Also, what are your post-graduation plans?

A:         Not quite good so far I have to say. Though some connections have been built, I have not secured a job yet. From what I have experienced, I have to say it is not easy for us international students to gain employment in the U.S. However, I am still trying and I believe I will not regret if I tried my best. Thus, I still plan to work in the U.S. for 3-5 years, and then go back to China, probably Shanghai or Suzhou.

Q:         Could you talk about your experience as part of the SMF Council?

A:         I am in charge of the social events in SMF council. From my experience, it can be quite difficult when all things are accidentally against you. When I reserve for a large group, the answer from the restaurant is almost always negative. When I make an announcement about a new event, sometimes the participation rate is not as good as I imagine. These are things I can’t control. So, I have learned to always try my best to do the things I can control, but be comfortable when I am not able to control something.

Q:         Are you glad that you are a member of the council and would you recommend it to other students?

A:         I have to say: yes. Though some time has been spent on the council work and meetings, it is always worth it when I can see how others handle their work in a different way. It is good to get inspired from others’ words and practice.

Q:         What advice would you give to all future students, and also more specifically to future Chinese students?

A:         Always get ready for the challenge, and be comfortable with being uncomfortable. I’d like to also share especially for future Chinese students: after I came to the U.S., it was my very first time to actively participate in class. During my undergraduate studies, with all my Chinese classmates, I didn’t have to raise my hand since all other classmates didn’t do so. However, in the U.S., you have to show yourself in a proper way, and you will benefit a lot from this. In the beginning, you may feel uncomfortable with doing this, but as Professor Oglevee has said, it is important to get used to it, and become comfortable with being uncomfortable.