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Constantin Brandt: Business Courses Offered A Leg Up for HEC Paris Business School Application

Constantin Brandt ('18SPS, Visiting Student Program) grew up in Germany and was attending the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management for his undergraduate degree in business administration when he decided to spend a semester abroad at Columbia University. He attended as a visiting student on his semester abroad as part of the Custom Business Program, hoping to enhance his business school application through coursework at an Ivy League university. He was accepted to the HEC Paris Business School and will pursue a Master’s in International Finance.

The Custom Business Program (12 credits) at the Columbia University School of Professional Studies helps prepare students for a graduate study or assists professionals who seek to acquire new skills. Offered full-time or part-time, students can enroll in coursework both online and on-campus. 

We caught up with Constantin to learn more about his experience in the program:

What was your experience at Columbia like?

My experience at Columbia was phenomenal. I was amazed every day. The whole campus is breathtaking. I benefited from the the knowledge of the world-class faculty and some of the most outstanding minds in business and finance in every single class. Moreover, I loved to work together with my highly intelligent and driven colleagues from all around the world. 

Another fantastic part of my experience was using the various facilities of Dodge fitness center. Supporting the Columbia Lions at Robert K. Kraft Field was another great way to feel the university’s spirit. The experience was completed by having the opportunity to network with guest speakers from the world’s leading financial institutions.

Constantin Brandt and New York City

What was life like living in New York City?

New York City definitely has my heart. I can say that I had the time of my life studying at Columbia and living in New York City. I especially enjoyed the fast-paced atmosphere of the city. Of course, the famous sights never ceased to amaze me. Apart from the common tourist activities, the city has still so much to offer. 

Besides, being part of the Columbia community brought many benefits. I made use of the preferred entrance at some of the world’s most impressive museums. Of course, these cultural topics guarantee great experiences in New York City.

The coursework from Global Emerging Markets helped me to find the topic for my final thesis at my home institution.

— Constantin Brandt, ‘18SPS,Visiting Student Program

What were your favorite courses?

I am happy to say that I enjoyed all of the courses I attended to the same extent. I really wish to thank the faculty and the lecturers for setting up these amazing courses in Global Emerging Markets, U.S Financial Market Structure, Options & Futures and Security Analysis. I especially loved the interactivity and the teaching style. I learned a lot about highly relevant topics that move international capital markets. I am convinced that I will benefit from the knowledge I gained throughout my entire life.

How did this coursework help your studies at your home institution?

Especially the coursework from Global Emerging Market taught by Professor Panos Mourdoukoutas helped me to find the topic for my final thesis at my home institution. I am very thankful for his guidance. Moreover, the knowledge of financial markets and products helped me to excel in my further courses in Germany.

How did your experience here help in applying for business school?

My experience inspired me to aim for a master’s program at another leading institution. I was thinking about applying to HEC Paris for a long time, but my time at Columbia really encouraged me to do so in the end. In addition to that, the letters of recommendation from my instructors at Columbia were a great support for my application and the overall knowledge gained in the courses helped me to master the challenging interview process with the admissions jury. 

My experience inspired me to aim for a master’s program. The overall knowledge gained in the courses helped me to master the challenging interview process with the admissions jury.

Constantin Brandt, ‘18SPS, Visiting Student Program

What advice would you give to future students visiting Columbia who hope to get into business school?

I am aware of the huge variety of classes at Columbia. I think that it is crucial to choose something that you are passionate about and that you are good at. With this combination, the education at Columbia can open many doors. At the risk of stating something too obvious, I can only emphasize to pay close attention to the lecturers because they really are experts in their fields and learning from them is a valuable privilege. 

Constantin Brandt poses next to a city sunset.

What are your hopes for the future? 

After my studies, I would like to work in the field of global capital markets at a leading investment bank. If I ever get the chance, I would love to join the buy-side at a hedge fund at one point in my career. Therefore, the Master in International Finance at HEC Paris will enable me to gain additional experience and will equip me with the relevant skill set. 

However, I have always been open minded, and I can also imagine being inspired by something else in the world of financial markets during my studies. I am very interested in global capital markets because they are a live barometer for major events in the world. As I am a versatile person, working in this field would give me the chance to expose myself to major issues that are going on in the world while solving business problems. I like the complexity of capital markets products and love to get a thorough understanding of asset classes and global markets strategies. 

It is a big wish to return to New York at some point in my professional career and to give something back to future generations attending Columbia. I will always be grateful for my valuable time at this prestigious institution. 

Learn more about the Custom Business Program, Advanced Graduate Certificate in Business and Visiting Students Program at Columbia University School of Professional Studies. Learn more about specific business courses here