因此，除了3.3的累积GPA之外，(Grade Point Average)一些学生还会选择强调他们的“核心GPA”或“
*(CFA = Chartered Financial Analyst，特許金融分析師)
骑牛搵马(Ride an ox to look for a horse)
We have been getting a lot of questions from Chinese international students that come to Canada to complete their undergraduate degrees. An outsized proportion of these international students choose to study business or commerce (which is a fake degree that only requires grade 10 math after Calculus I).
This is not legal advice and should not be taken as such but from what people are telling us this is what we think.
Not sure if the situation has changed with deteriorating Canada-China relations, but nonetheless going to Canada for school ideally results in a much higher paying entry level job versus the same equivalent in Shanghai/Beijing/Shenzhen (but not Hong Kong, where salaries for equivalent entry level positions are in line with New York), a path to permanent residency and a way to get away from the hypercompetitive Chinese society for a little while.
Naturally, everyone immediately goes in and aims for an investment banking job at a top firm. Is this doable? Yes. Is it probable? No. And ultimately international students have to be pragmatic and proactive in their planning or end up with nothing at all.
Preparing Chinese International Students New to Canada for an Investment Banking Role
When international students arrive from China and land in Vancouver and Toronto, they generally find that it is a lot of fun. Although there may be somewhat of an initial culture shock owing to the relative inefficiency of public transportation and payment systems, perspectives on what is expensive versus cheap (food is expensive, luxury cars and real estate are cheap), staggering differences in population density, urban sprawl and privacy many grow to like the new country that offers a slower pace while retaining the comforts of home.
So now, the question is how do you stay here (if you would like to stay here)?
The easiest way other than marriage or via becoming an investor immigrant (which requires a large amount of money and a reasonable amount of work) is to get a high quality job with employer sponsorship that makes the permanent residency application more attractive. An undergraduate degree comes with a 3 year work visa. Working in a skilled job in Canada helps with a permanent resident application.
Now on paper, it is actually very easy for Chinese international students to secure a good job in Canada because society on the whole is not as competitive and the educational foundation is not as strong in terms of hard sciences and mathematics. In that regard, Chinese international students will generally have a leg up on 80% of their local peers and have the ability to get very good grades in school.
Getting Good Grades in a Canadian University for International Students
Good grades are the easiest way to be selected for an interview. Good grades absolutely do matter for investment banking and other high quality jobs.
Chinese international students usually get low grades for two reasons.
The first one is because they loaf off and party for the first two years (or relationship problems) – this is not unique to Chinese students. A certain percentage of all university students will fall into this trap, but to some extent it is more pronounced for the international students who suddenly have a large amount of liberty and less societal constraints than what they are accustomed to. Also, life changes when you have a BMW M6 (I know, because I have an M6).
By the time third year rolls around, they panic and go into full on study mode. Some students recover and some do not – employers are generally somewhat sympathetic to this immature stage and the effects can be masked on a resume if grades in 3rd year and above are all 85% plus.
So in addition to a cumulative GPA of 3.3, some students will choose to highlight that their “Core GPA” or “Specialization GPA” was 3.8. A CFA level I may also help to show initiative. Ultimately, GPA goes to show that students are reasonably intelligent (or at least can be trusted to do the work that is assigned and figure out things that are not hard).
Fluency in English for International Students is Essential in Securing a Finance Job
The second area is anything that involves reading comprehension and analysis in areas that are context heavy and require a good grasp of English. A lot of students can get 100% in Calculus I and similarly high marks in Microeconomics and Financial Accounting but fail Commercial Law and English before being bell curved to a C or C+.
Generally, there are two types of international students here. The ones that have an adequate understanding of English and are confident speakers end up finding excellent jobs without much difficulty. The ones who do not and are more demure and shy can at best settle for a job in middle office such as risk management or operations if they have stellar quantitative grades.
In a previous life as investment banker, we can tell you that we hired a lot of people with B+ GPAs but we hired nobody who we felt could not be trusted to communicate effectively in English.
- If you are nervous speaking English your English is not good enough
- If non-Chinese people do not enjoy conversations with you, your English is not good enough
- If you cannot understand 95% of every non-technical conversation you are engaged in, your English is not good enough
A lot of international students actually go back to China with worse English than when they first arrived because they immediately join a Mandarin-only friend circle. It is natural to stay in your comfort zone but you will ultimately leave with only nostalgia and wasted time.
Chinese students that do not have the benefit of going to international school in China or good private tutors need to honestly assess their skillset and spend time where the largest marginal benefit is – studying English and befriending non-Chinese students instead of trying to get 100% in managerial economics when you are batting 98%.
This is especially important because interacting with people can be illuminating in terms of social context which cannot be gleaned from a book. A lot of communication and culture is non-verbal and can only be understood through being put in certain situations. Without being able to comfortably converse with Canadian locals, the interview is a write off.
Action Plan for Chinese International Students in their Third, Fourth and Fifth Year or New Graduates
Ideally, the same as with local investment banking aspirants, the path is getting a 2nd year internship in wealth management, a 3rd year investment banking summer analyst position and a return offer to work full time. The difference is that there are much higher stakes (you have to leave the country).
The reality is that 95% of international students will not get the coveted entry level investment banking analyst role. As with most other situations people have to reassess what the appropriate path to take is.
The longer you wait the harder it gets. The hard reality is that although the 3 year work permit seems sufficiently long to secure a job, the reality is that the top quality investors with big brand names are often reluctant to know that they will have to sponsor a candidate after the visa period ends.
After 6 months, these same A students will start settling for corporate banking jobs, before realizing that they would take a commercial banking job and then realizing they would take just about anything.
Ride a Donkey (Cow) Look for Horse
A lot of new graduates or soon to be graduates are reluctant to pick up a lower level position before starting on their grand investment banking dreams.
Permanent residency may be even more important than the investment banking role. Commercial and corporate banking jobs have far less competition and are good jobs with prestigious brand names that pay well enough to sustain a good life in all large Canadian cities.
While applying for investment banking jobs during the penultimate (for summer analyst positions) and final years, students should be concurrently applying and grabbing coffees with commercial and corporate bankers, corporate finance divisions of large Fortune 500 institutions and considering the other job opportunities discussed on this website.
Some students are under the illusion that if they take up one of these jobs it precludes them from an investment banking job in the future. This is incorrect – investment banks are far more likely to hire off-cycle from a brand name versus an unemployed student with excellent grades.
Also, students may think that commercial (or even retail banking as a teller or mutual fund salesperson) would handcuff them from quitting after a short period of time for a better position. This is misguided – people need to be prepared for uncomfortable conversations quitting their jobs if it is what is best for them. The key is to get a job and keep looking for better jobs while improving the permanent residency application.
Of course, after obtaining permanent residency and a path to citizenship, this allows for an opportunity to get a prestigious MBA or return to work in China without restrictions. After all, a Columbia MBA is a designer item just like an LV Alma.