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Oleg Giberstein

BA Politics and International Relations (2010), Citigroup

Why did you choose Royal Holoway for your degree? 

I chose Royal Holloway because it was a small, personal and beautiful place and at the same time close enough to London. Royal Holloway allowed me to have the best of two worlds, a campus university and a city like London nearby. The Politics and International Relations department also attracted me due to its international and young staff and the attention they gave me while I was in the process of deciding where to do my studies.

How did your time at Royal Holloway help towards your future career?

The degree helped me in multiple ways. I expanded my intellectual horizon thanks to the open yet comprehensive learning environment. Royal Holloway and my department were not places which forced you to learn against your will but if you are keen to learn you can gain a tremendous amount. This rich academic and social environment gave me the opportunity to choose the direction into which I wanted to develop both academically as well as a person. The classroom discussions were of a high intellectual quality and I sincerely enjoyed the possibility to both informally and formally talk to a lot of the academic staff. I was also involved in various activities and societies and had the chance to spend my second year abroad at the University of California, San Diego which only added further to the overall experience. In short, I was given the tools I needed to learn, to grow and to succeed in my post-Royal Holloway career.

What do you do now and what advice would you give to anyone interested in working in your sector?

After completing an MPhil International Relations at the University of Oxford immediately after my Royal Holloway degree I went on to work at Citigroup, first in Corporate Banking and now in Global Public Sector Risk. Coming from a Social Science background it was not the easiest of all moves to get into finance! However, there were four key steps which I needed to take: 1) having a natural interest in business and economics (starting to read the FT two days before the interview is not enough), 2) having a story (why finance – you should have a convincing story, especially if you are a Politics student like me who wants to work for a bank), 3) networking (be it going to specific events, career centres or even cold calling), 4) doing my homework for interviews and assessment centres (research about the company, preparing for tests, etc.). I received a lot of rejections but in the end, the cliché that persistence wins proved to be true.



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