Duisenberg school of finance (DSF), located in the Amsterdam financial center, is an excellent school to start a successful career in the financial and corporate worlds. DSF provides a one-year MSc program in Finance with three specialisation options: Corporate Finance and Banking, Financial Markets and Regulation, and Risk Management. The school also provides an LLM programme in Finance and Law for aspiring legal and business professionals.
Rostra Economica sat down with two of DSF’s current students, Nicolas Hinse and Redmar Poot, to learn more about what it’s like to study at Duisenberg School of Finance.
Can you tell me about your previous experience, and how it led you to DSF?
Redmar: I studied economics at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and was active in their student association. During my time serving as board member at the economics faculty association, we had opportunities to meet board members of other student association in the Netherlands. It was at one of these events that I first met students from DSF, learning more about the programmes and their study experiences. A friend of mine also graduated from DSF’s Corporate Finance and Banking track, and he highly recommended the school. Later on, I won a case competition called the Duisenberg Battle, which awarded me a scholarship to study here. Since I’d always been fascinated with finance and the dynamics between finance solutions and strategy, I decided to study the Finance and Banking track.
Nicolas: I studied economics at the UvA, where I was active in student organisations like Sefa, where I served on the Masters of Finance committee. During my Bachelor’s degree study, I did an internship at Leonardo & Co. where I had a colleague, who graduated from Duisenberg. Through him I learned about the level of education, as well as the ambitious and driven student body. The international setting and practical approach motivated me to apply. I’m also doing the Corporate Finance and Banking track.
Why did you choose to study at DSF, as opposed to other Masters programmes in the Netherlands?
Nicolas: For me personally, it was the practical approach and structure of the programme. Here they really concentrate on teaching students not only theoretical knowledge, but also how to apply it in real-world scenarios. I also like that the curriculum is more focused on banking subjects rather than general finance. Other master programmes are generally more geared towards theoretical knowledge and preparing students for careers in academia or research, while Duisenberg is very focused on making sure their students get the most desired jobs after they graduate.
Redmar: It’s the same for me; I think the practical approach is very beneficial. For example, at Erasmus we once had to prepare a valuation case and write a 40-page report with a lot of redundant parts to it, while at Duisenberg we did a valuation case and then had to present it with a PowerPoint presentation. In a real job, you will never have to hand in academic reports, but rather present and discuss your work in a team.
Could you elaborate more on the study environment at DSF?
Nicolas: it is intense, and the level of education is very high, but they are there to help you throughout your entire study. Our professors always emphasis how we can use the knowledge we’re gaining in our future careers. For example, we recently did an assignment on corporate valuation: we had to run the valuation, where you learn all the theory behind it, and then we had to present it to the class, which is something that would happen in a real company.
Redmar: The classes are very interactive, and there are many group assignments. It’s very motivating to work in a group of active and ambitious students with diverse experiences. This way you can learn not only from the lecturers, but also from your fellow students. The professors here are also amazing; they’re really engaging and passionate about their subjects and always try to explain the bigger picture. Some of them are industry professionals, and some come from different universities like LSE.
How does DSF increase and expand your job opportunities?
Nicolas: DSF has a very dedicated career team, which helps students get internships that are a compulsory part of the degree, and then get them in contact with future employers. For example, we have several events throughout the year where we can meet DSF industry partners, learn about their companies and discuss with them our own career ambitions.
Redmar: Recruiters are keen to meet DSF students because of the school’s great reputation. Furthermore, we have a leadership programme that aims at developing the necessary skills for a successful career. We start with learning how to market ourselves: writing a CV and cover letter, creating a positive impression in an interview, creating convincing presentations and learning how to negotiate well.
How would you describe the DSF student community?
Nicolas: It’s very international, with around seventy percent of students coming from outside the Netherlands. I believe there are 28 different nationalities at DSF but despite our different backgrounds, all students know what they want and are very driven to succeed. You will not find a student at DSF who is satisfied with simply passing courses. It’s a competitive environment, but it goes hand-in-hand with cooperation and pushing each other to do our best. There are also many extra curricular activities like the career and social committees. This year, a committee is organising a field trip to Istanbul, where we’ll will visit companies and just enjoy our time together.
Redmar: The student body is very diverse. Some may get the impression that all the students previously studied finance and served on student boards, but actuality there are students of different academic experiences, we even have students with a background in medicine. The community at DSF is very tight-knit, and everybody has a social responsibility to help Duisenberg make the next step. Some students become committee members, while some become research assistants or contribute in some other way.
What are your plans after leaving Duisenberg?
Nicolas: I want to pursue a career in investment banking, and I already have a job lined up at J.P. Morgan. I am starting in June at their London office, so I’m really excited.
Redmar: I’m also thinking about working in investment banking. I’ll be doing an internship at Nomura in the summer, and I’ll see where to go from there.
“it is intense, and the level of education is very high, but they are there to help you”
What advice could you give to potential applicants?
Redmar: Be sure that you want to work in finance. The masters’ programme is challenging, so you need to be very motivated to excel. Participating in Duisenberg events will also help you decide whether Duisenberg is the right fit for you and how to create a successful application.
Nicolas: They search for students with a combination of good academic performance and practical experience, like the skills to find a job after graduating. Before you decide, you should come to Duisenberg and talk with the current students. There are open days, but you can also just stop by on a regular day, and the students will be happy to have a chat with you and answer your questions.