Economics master’s prepares job-ready graduates

David Kim

MA graduate | Economics

David Kim profile headshotSometimes it’s the unconventional academic paths that are the most rewarding. David Kim, a graduate of the Economics master’s program began his undergraduate degree in the Global Business and Digital Arts program, before shifting into the Mathematical Economics program. Never a self-proclaimed “numbers” person growing up, David feels that the challenges he tackled throughout his academics have in turn helped with his personal and professional growth.

Realizing that graduate-level economics allows students to participate in the most extensive co-operative education network in the country, he knew he had to pursue his graduate degree at Waterloo to help him become job-ready. David enhanced his professional skills in the co-op program by working for eight months as an Analyst at the Bank of Montreal (BMO). In this role, David was able to combine his programming skills, with his statistical and economic background, and apply those key components to the work he did every day. In this role, one of his projects involved building a tool for the bank to determine the amount of capital that is required to ensure liquidity and absorb losses.

Reflecting on his experience in the co-op program he says, “Co-op at the master’s level is important because it provides you with networking opportunities and the environment to apply the skills and knowledge obtained during your studies, which is significant as you transition from the classroom to the workforce.” David sees his co-op experience as one of the main reasons he’s had so many great mentors and colleagues that have strengthened his work ethic and his professional expertise. Through his co-op terms and his contributions to his workplace, he was also nominated by his employer for co-op student of the year.

David and his mom posing in front of a banner at convocationUpon the completion of his graduate degree, David was hired back by BMO to work as a Senior Analyst for Retail Credit Risk Modelling. “In my current role I develop, maintain and monitor various internal risk-rating models the bank uses to score customers based on their observable characteristics,” he says. “These models have a downstream impact for the bank such as ensuring liquidity with respect to the risk exposure and the bank's bottom line."

To make the most of his graduate student experience, David partnered with a classmate to enter the national research competition hosted by the Canadian Research Data Centre Network with a presentation titled “The Efficacy of Private Sponsorship on the Economic outcome of Female Refugees.” This competition, open to all graduate students within Canada is a unique opportunity to share research with the public. His submission landed him second place and proved to be an invaluable experience that allowed him to contribute to the research of such a topical, important issue.  

David credits his drive, determination and employability to the skills he learned throughout his graduate degree including his co-op role. He was faced with a rigorous curriculum that had an intersection of theoretical modelling, applied economic intuition and a heavy emphasis on technical skills such as programming, and he was provided with numerous opportunities to practice his presentation and writing skills. Thinking fondly of his experience, he says, “I truly believe that the program prepares their students to succeed in the workplace and academia by providing a conducive learning environment that is both challenging and rewarding.”