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Master's or postgraduate diploma
posted on Friday, 10 February 2012 15:46

Dear Career Doctor,

I am a 2011 graduate from HKU majoring in Engineering. I am working at Big Four as a System Engineer to support a business application system. Last year, I completed HSBC summer internship which aroused my passion to embark on a career in financial and banking industry. In order to build a solid foundation and to support my career change to business sector, I consider enrolling in a Postgraduate Program in Finance.

There are two types of Postgraduate Studies – Master and Postgraduate Diploma. While Master is an advanced level of study on a specific topic which requires fundamental knowledge or a few years of working experience, Postgraduate Diploma could provide me with more general or basic knowledge. 

Instead of competing for Master, I think that CUHK Postgraduate Diploma in Global Finance is more suitable for me and I want to pave my way to MBA with this qualification and working experience. My questions are as follows:

1.    What are your recommendations for my preference for Postgraduate Diploma rather than Master?

2.    Could I apply for some graduate posts when I am studying a Postgraduate Diploma?

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Christopher Aukland - Career Doctor's picture
Christopher Aukland - Career Doctor  
Posted Friday, 11 May 2012 04:19 PM


When applying for positions the general rule of thumb would be the higher the level of academic qualification the better, so a postgraduate Masters degree would be more highly regarded. However taking a postgraduate diploma in Finance is still an advanced level of study, is easier to manage in terms of study requirements and you could complete the diploma part time whilst gaining relevant work experience. This approach can give you a quick yet solid fundamental understanding in the financial field.

While it is a significant plus to be a graduate in Finance, it is not a pre-requisite or in fact a guarantee of success to gain an entry level position. You therefore must also work hard overall to ensure you are as competitive as possible against other candidates. As well as a very strong academic background, other key criteria employers will look for are relevant internships and work experience, excellent presentation and communication skills, knowledge of the industry and interpersonal skills. To increase your chances, identify if you have weakness in any of these areas and then focus on improving these. In terms of work experience, you need to network extensively and apply for internships and entry level positions. If this proves unsuccessful, consider taking contract roles in system engineering positions within the financial services sector to gain experience in the industry and then look to transfer into a finance role in the future.

Best of luck!

Anonymous's picture
Thomas Leung
Posted Wednesday, 15 February 2012 12:26 AM

Get your postgraduate diploma firstly. To be honest, some employers hate high qualification staff because of Chinese traditional culture. Train your language skill especially English and Mandarin. Then try to develop a good relationship with your colleagues instead of studying a lot. Don't tell your colleagues about your studying. They will treat you as an enemy.

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