At the peak of the pandemic, YunKai Lee had to cut his classes short in New York to fly home to Malaysia. It was not a decision Lee made lightly. But with the unpredictability of the fast-changing travel regulations, he decided to hunker down back home to finish the rest of his courses virtually to prime himself for his highly competitive internship with J.P. Morgan, with the hope of ultimately landing a job with the banking powerhouse.
Lee had been aiming to secure this internship for almost the entirety of his junior year, and it was an opportunity he knew could really kick start his career after university, so he didn’t want to take any chances.
It’s notoriously difficult to secure a finance internship, especially when one is competing with top business schools. With resources like NYUAD’s Career Development Center (CDC) to help with building a portfolio and provide advice on ways to approach internships, it still took Lee half a year from applying and going through a grueling three-round interview process before successfully landing the position.
To help fellow students gain a competitive edge for their internship, Lee and a few senior classmates volunteered as mentors in an investment training program under the existing Business and Finance Society student interest group where they teach underclassmen how to value stocks, read financial accounts, and prepare for job interviews.
Lee was also part of an award winning startup, Jagged, that uses a “swipe to match” application to help high school students connect with students currently studying at their dream college to seek advice on student life, academics, and more. “The hope is to reduce existing social barriers preventing students from achieving their ambitions,” Lee said.
Although it was a virtual internship, J.P. Morgan requires interns to work in the same time zone of the office they are assigned to due to the highly collaborative nature of their work. The skills he had accumulated at NYUAD helped him adjust to the demanding internship.
The online onboarding process alone was robust. Instead of an introduction to the team based in Malaysia, Lee was part of a larger orientation that included interns from Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand. “That really showed me the scale of the company. I also got to listen in during a keynote address from the global CEO of J.P. Morgan Jamie Dimon,” Lee added.
The endless collaborations for presentations and brainstorming sessions as an NYUAD student worked to Lee’s advantage during his internship. The skills he learned at NYUAD really shined during a particular project that saw Lee partner with the J.P. Morgan Hong Kong team to work on a 50-page investment deck. In another project, Lee was able to show his creativity and public speaking skills through a 30-minute presentation about a potential market opportunity in Malaysia to the local J.P. Morgan CEO.
His hard work, forward planning, and the skills he accumulated at NYUAD in classes and programs helped Lee secure his dream job. As he continues his journey as an analyst for J.P. Morgan after graduating, he reflects on his university experience and the friendships he formed that helped propel him into life after NYUAD.
“We spent one-fifth of our lives together... in a completely unorthodox university experience. I think that is something that shapes you,” Lee said. No matter where each of his schoolmates’ lives would be five or 10 years down the road, he has no doubt the NYUAD Class of 2021 will live fully by taking on new challenges that come their way. “I think NYUAD students are unique in the sense that if life gives us lemons, we would make lemon mint,” he said.