Straightening the Learning Curve
The combination of the theoretical and practical puts Stevens graduate student in a position to explore his passion.
Darsh Sharma is used to long journeys.
He has covered the 7,785 miles from Mumbai to the Stevens Institute of Technology campus in Hoboken, and now he’s taking steps on the winding road from computer science to a career in wealth management.
Darsh is pursuing his master’s degree in financial engineering at the School of Business, learning how to model financial data to improve decision-making, assess risk and manage a portfolio. He has parlayed his classroom work into an internship in the wealth management division at Morgan Stanley.
Determining the Destination
After completing his undergraduate degree in computer science in India, Darsh realized he “didn't want to be a software developer,” and would pursue a career in the finance industry. His search for the top options led him to financial engineering at Stevens—the nation’s 19th-ranked program on QuantNet’s list of Best Financial Engineering Master’s Programs.
“With my background, financial engineering was the best option for me,” he said. “I'm studying how to make models that predict what's going to happen in the financial market and take positions accordingly. You have to test these models because every market situation is different, and that's what these big banks and hedge funds do when they are trading.”
The Stevens School of Business’ emphasis on integrating technology into its curriculum, including the Hanlon Financial Systems Center, has been a guiding light on Darsh’s current career journey.
“It gives us an opportunity to know how Wall Street traders work and how they operate,” he explained. “The Stevens curriculum is so up to date about what's been happening in the market. If you know how to use the technology properly, it saves the employers the training. It gives you an edge because they know you’re ready to work from day one.”
But his technical proficiency isn’t the end of the road. With more exposure to all aspects of the financial industry, Darsh realized that wealth management could be his chosen path because “you make investment decisions, but you also work directly alongside clients, which quant finance won't necessarily do.”
Finding the Right Guide
So how do you bridge the gap? In Stevens’ case, by train, ferry, or a literal bridge.
The proximity to New York City and Wall Street provides a pool of faculty that boasts decades of industry experience that helps prepare students for what they’ll experience outside the classroom.
Darsh found his inspiration in Ansul Sharma (no relation) who teaches Quantitative Hedge Fund Strategies but has working experience in the wealth management arena. Not only did he provide a roadmap on how Darsh could combine his technical background and career ambition, but Professor Sharma had a tangible impact through his advice during the interview process.
“He was so supportive about my internship interviews,” Darsh recalled. “He made sure I was preparing the right things during each step. Having a professor who has so much experience in wealth management gave me an edge to leverage my finance skills. Since I come from a more technical programming base, they would ask why I wanted to work in management, and because I had that guidance, I knew how to answer.”
Ready for Whatever Lies Ahead
Darsh is expected to finish his degree in the spring of 2024, but his experience at Stevens will have an impact on him far beyond graduation day.
“Financial engineering at Stevens is as competitive as any other college,” he said. “It gives you hands-on practice in what the industry expects. If you stick with the curriculum, you are well-positioned to find a job or make an impact in your work because all the subjects that we study are very much in sync with what companies need.
“My education will be complete because I'll have technical skills, financial engineering skills, and finance skills.”