The first thoughts that come to mind when I think about my McGill Desautels MBA experience is simply ‘life changing.’ McGill University had always been a dream school of mine, however, I never had the courage to apply until a member from the Recruitment and Admissions team convinced me to give it a shot. I thought somehow it was destiny, as attending my dream school led to finding my dream job and meeting my life long partner.
Prior to my MBA, I attended the University of Calgary where I graduated with a degree in Marketing and Economics. Thereafter, I founded a real estate development company, Invictus Real Estate Holdings Ltd., where I managed a portfolio of apartment leases, residential renovations, vacant land sales and new multi-family development. After meeting with several angel investors and venture capitalists to raise capital for projects, I was motivated to switch industries from marketing and began exploring careers in finance.
I always knew of Investment Banking (IB) as a coveted role that many in finance strive for, but few attain. I began to research deeper and knew immediately that it was what I wanted to do. I quickly discovered that getting a job in investment banking depended on four critical aspects: (1) networking, (2) technical interview preparation, (3) extracurricular involvement, and (4) a strong GPA. The course of my first year focused solely on those factors as I became obsessed with the process. I remember keeping track of a spreadsheet of everyone I reached out to for informational interviews, coffees and calls and it wasn’t long until the number reached 50. I buried myself in textbooks and class material… weeknights and weekends were spent at the Bronfman Building, where I became accustomed to walking home on empty streets at 2am daily. On top of the Core curriculum, I made it a priority to set aside time three times a week to prepare for the technical aspects of an investment banking interview. Coming from a non-finance background, the learning curve was incredibly steep.
January rolled around and I was invited to final round interviews with a few big banks only to fall short of receiving an internship offer in IB. I decided to go with plan B which was an equally attractive internship in Sales & Trading at CIBC Capital Markets. My summer internship experience surprisingly turned out better than I had expected and I received an offer to return full-time as a Sales & Trading Associate. I spent some time contemplating the offer, but could not justify settling and giving up on my dream of investment banking. I went back in the hunt for a full-time position this time and was able to secure interviews at all of the major banks in Canada. After a combined total of 48 first round interviews and super-days (final rounds), I received two full-time offers to join the Investment Banking group at TD Securities and Scotiabank where TD was my ultimate choice.
The journey to success could not have been without the opportunities that Desautels had given me. From my extracurricular involvement in the MBA Finance Club, McGill Case Competition Association, McGill Investment Committee and Desautels Capital Management, to the Mentorship Program organized by the Career Centre, to the ongoing meeting with my career coaches. I firmly believe that my success is owed to the existence of the support of my #DesautelsFamily.
My advice to incoming students is to (1) have a vision and to never give up on it. You are the master of your fate and with the right attitude, work ethic and persistence… anything is possible. (2) Always be open to criticism and acknowledge how you can work on your weaknesses – no one is perfect and there is always room for improvement. (3) Invest in meaningful connections and enjoy the journey – the next two years will fly by before you know it so don’t forget to enjoy it while it lasts. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading my story and feel free to contact me if you ever need any help or advice.
Jayden Van is from Calgary, Canada. Before embarking on his MBA journey, Jayden worked at Westjet in Digital Marketing and Analytics and started his own Real Estate company. At McGill, Jayden did the Investment Management Program and was President of the Finance Club. He was also involved with the Desautels Capital Management (DCM), the McGill Shareholder Activism Research Group (MSHARES), the McGill Investment Committee (MIC) and the McGill Case Competition Association (MCCA). Jayden’s team also placed in the Top 4 at the Finance Case Competition held in Bocconi, Italy. After doing an MBA internship in Sales and Trading internship at CIBC, Jayden successfully completed his MBA and career switch objective: He is now working as an Investment Banking Associate for TD in Toronto.