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Using GSAL Classes to Advance a Career

A student fine-tunes his application for graduate school.

Written by Philip Baker
man in glasses and suit

Hear from a former history major who took three courses through the Graduate Student-at-Large (GSAL) program and was accepted into the University of Chicago’s Master of Science in Financial Mathematics.

After graduating from Boston University in 2008, Hunter Young entered a job market already beginning to feel the effects of the financial crisis. An intense and far-reaching search, however, eventually landed him a position with MF Global in Chicago, where he took an analyst position working at the Chicago Board Options Exchange. As a history major who had focused on the economic drivers behind historical events, Hunter had some familiarity with financial thinking and approaches, but he couldn’t have known quite what to expect from his new job.

Fortunately, he quickly developed a passion for the sort of work he was doing in the financial world, particularly the work he did with volatility products.“It’s the complexity of working with volatility that I like,” Hunter says. “Unlike trading stocks and futures, whose pay-offs are more linear and revolve around the movement of a single number, options are multidimensional with an assortment of risk factors that require an array of mathematical and statistical strategies.”

Real UChicago Experience

After MF Global went bankrupt in 2011, Hunter started his own firm, Talton Capital Management, an asset management company that specializes in volatility products. By this point, Hunter says, he’d already grown interested in expanding his mathematics and statistics knowledge base, particularly as they related to finance. Having set his eyes on the Master of Science in Financial Mathematics at the University of Chicago, he realized taking some preparatory classes to bolster his math background would be necessary before applying for the advanced degree. That’s when he first discovered the Graduate Student-at-Large program at the University of Chicago. “I looked into all the various continuing education programs around Chicago, from the community colleges to the major universities,” Hunter says. “There was no question the University of Chicago was the place I wanted to go. To find myself in the first class I took, which was a calculus class, sitting next to UChicago undergrads completely confirmed my belief, since it meant the material I was learning was being presented in its full rigor and complexity.”

Opportunities for Growth

In the end, Hunter took three classes through the GSAL program before applying and being accepted into the University of Chicago’s Master of Science in Financial Mathematics. Throughout his time in the GSAL program, Hunter says the assistance the UCPE program staff gave him in selecting and registering for classes was extremely helpful and that the career-building events were excellent ways to broaden his perspective. In fact, he looks forward to returning to UChicago to register for more classes through the GSAL program.“There’s so much to choose from,” Hunter says. “I’m interested in expanding my computer science skills and I’m looking forward to taking a class in that area in the future. Also, as a home brewer who’s had to dabble in chemistry, I’m eager to expand the base of my chemistry knowledge as well with some coursework.”

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