Feature Stories


Journey of Futurepreneur: Strong Foundations for Career-Building

Exploration and learning do not stop after graduation! As in the experience of Chak (FINA & IS, Class of 2021), the foundations of knowledge and network built at HKUST prepared him for greater career flexibility to seize opportunities that came his way.

Abundance of Opportunities for Career-building 

Chak observed that HKUST business students have many opportunities to enter and explore different business fields of interest, regardless of their major. "Take me as an example. Initially, I wanted to be a research postgraduate student, so I joined Prof. Allen Huang’s project on crypto-currency trading portfolios and machine learning under the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) for two semesters. Although I found that being a research postgrad may not be a good fit for me at that time and I knew I would like to explore other career possibilities. I learned a lot about the research process and built my programming and neural network skills.”

Chak then started to prepare himself to grasp internship opportunities he was interested in. He enrolled in FINA 3001: Key Skills for Finance Professionals, which he found crucial in helping him ace interviews and the recruitment processes. “This course was practical and hands-on with targeted and intensive mock interviews, career consultations and career workshops. The Business School’s career advisors really sat down with me, one-to-one, to drill me on my English speaking and interview skills. They also taught me how to polish my LinkedIn profile and manage my personality and profiles, attract my targeted headhunters and recruiters, and make a good impression on potential employers.” To increase course engagement and connect with his peers within the Finance major department, Chak founded the FINA 3001 Committee, where he acted as a peer mentor and trained his juniors in CV polishing skills and other consultation skills so they can in turn help their peers as well. “We hoped to help students to grab more internships and grad job opportunities through our mingling events, mentorship programs, and skill workshops, and maintain good bonding among students and alumni.”

Equipped with job-hunting skills, Chak successfully found his first internship as a fundraising intern at HKUST’s Development Alumni Office (DAO), which greatly influenced his subsequent internships and career path. “In the two years I spent with the DAO, I helped them migrate the old donor management system to a new one. This first experience showed me what I really liked, and helped me to get my next internship at the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA). My seniors were really impressed by what I learned at the DAO, and were eager to teach me even more advanced data analytics there. All of these contributed to my third and fourth internships at CITIC Bank and HSBC as I was able to apply all those skills at work. Combined with the knowledge I learned from the UROP experience, I finally decided to go for my first job as a Technology Management Trainee at the Bank of China.” 

Although he was qualified for the positions he was interested in with his considerable experience and business knowledge, Chak recalled the challenge he faced as he first started job-hunting. “Finding internships was a disaster at first! I am someone who used to expect a linear relationship between rewards and the effort put in. I remember applying to a hundred positions, but only getting 2-3 offers in return. I tried hard to change my mindset and approach job hunting with more flexibility while gaining direction in what I was really looking for. Although sometimes there might not be any specific advice for me, I was introduced to other opportunities my peers are exploring through many chats with my academic advisor and other SBM officers.”

Chak was a finalist of Fintechstic, an annual event led by the Fintech Research Project of HKUST Business School, with the aims to connect university students with fintech businesses and industry practitioners to promote fintech, also to introduce fintech concepts and businesses to students and the public. 

A Distinctly Distinguished Reputation 

As he interviewed with many banks and companies throughout his career so far, Chak found that the general impression of HKUST graduates was one of high expectations. “I found that banks tend to have high expectations for HKUST applicants, with most of the hires from Hong Kong’s “big 3 universities”. Your seniors will also try to build rapport with you during the interview because they know you’re likely hardworking and high-achieving too.” He also noted that the social environment plays a major part in pushing students to achieve highly. “When you have peers who talk a lot about their achievements, you also get the ‘peer pressure’ to also work hard to achieve highly.”

Aside from their resilience and diligence, Chak observed that the international student and faculty body gave HKUST graduates a distinct edge in job performance. “We know how to speak up and ask meaningful questions to help us fulfill our employers’ expectations because the international students here are very proactive, and we learn from them! We also embrace a global outlook through seizing opportunities for overseas exchange and competitions, as well as activities on campus, such as the Business Student Ambassadors Program, to make friends and create a global network to prepare for work in a global market.” He adds that through learning how to communicate and make friends with peers from all over the world, he learned how to find common topics among diverse groups of friends, building his own network along the way. 

Chak gained global exposure through case competition (CASEiT) and exchange program to Prague.

Career Support During UG Years Continues After Graduation 

During his undergraduate years, Chak had many opportunities to hone his hard skills in class and through internships, and was well-equipped to start out in a technical role in the banking industry right after graduation. However, after working there for about a year, he realized that he wanted to work more on the business side of the bank. When an SBM officer shared an opportunity to be a management trainee at Hang Seng Bank, Chak took the leap and applied. “HKUST has many different opportunities for me to try, and even after graduation, my major department kept in touch with me to share opportunities for fresh graduates, those who are considering changing jobs, and those who want to explore more areas of finance such as risk and asset management.” In his current role as a management trainee in the Risk Management stream, Chak enjoys using his various hard skills in the business side of the bank.

Looking back on his career journey, Chak reflects, “It really was a series of connected career steps – if I didn’t get my first internship job at HKUST, I would not have been able to build the profile I have now.” In the next few years, he aims to gain his FRM qualifications to further his career in risk management before pursuing a master’s degree abroad.

As for his advice to final year students looking for graduation jobs, Chak advises job-seekers to keep persisting as they work through many application forms, and to find something that is meaningful to them. “If you want to do something, just go for it. If you can’t do it in one step, do it in half a step to get into the industry first. If you find that you don’t like the job, ask ‘How does this job create value for the company?’ and try to find personal fulfillment to help yourself enjoy and embrace the job.”

As for prospective students considering HKUST, Chak encourages them to apply because of the global exposure on-campus and day-to-day living and building relationships with their peers. “As one makes friends with both local and international students, their outlook will grow to become more globalized, making one more versatile and agile in the globalized workforce.”

Chak works as a Technology Management Trainee at the Bank of China.