Learning While Practicing-Zhelin Guo

Hello, my name is Zhelin Guo and I am a first-year student in the Master of Finance program, focusing on asset management, I would like to share my experience in completing an Experiential Learning Project as a part of my degree. Experiential Learning Projects (ELP) are an excellent opportunity for us to apply what we have learned in a real-world setting. The Robert H. Smith School of Business provides Master of Finance and Master of Quantitative Finance students with an opportunity to work with companies and quasi-government agencies on projects that are ongoing or will be launched in near future.

Working on a project in the real world is totally different from doing a case study in the classroom. For a case study, you have almost everything on set. For example, in the classroom, we are given clean and usable data, clear and specific procedures to the goals and standardized methodology. However, for an ELP project, you need to go through all the procedures that are necessary for a consulting or modeling project.  

Currently, I am participating in an ELP relative to corporate finance; the targets of my teammates and I are to provide suggestions about inventory rationalization. Starting from ground zero, we cleaned and patched the raw data we received from the company, and gathered what we needed from financial databases, industrial whitepapers, and trade magazines ( requiring us to use our imagination and discover new information channels!). Then comes the best part: differentiating from following the standard procedures step by step, we needed to find our own path to reach the goals, adapting what we learned from the classroom or even improvising brand new methods. During the entire process, we are applying accounting, finance and programming knowledge, and we also practice our team collaboration, communication, and presentation skills when we are preparing our final reports for the client. All in all, an ELP is one of the best opportunities you can experience here at Smith-don’t miss it!

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