A Day in the Life

Robert Bray
Vanderbilt MS Finance | 2015

A Tennessean who earned his undergraduate degree from Tulane and stayed in the “Big Easy” to work, Robert Bray returned to his home state to join the MSF program at Vanderbilt. When we caught up with him shortly after graduation, he had driven his belongings in a U-Haul truck from Nashville to New York, where he accepted a position with a startup firm specializing in renewable energy finance and technology.

Robert describes a typical Monday during Mod 1 of his year in the MSF program as “a major exercise in time management.”

7:55 AM

I arrive for my 8 AM Financial Economics class with Professor Nick Bollen. It’s one of the core classes everyone takes during Mod 1.

9:30 AM

When class ends, I grab coffee across the street or in the lounge. It has to be fast. I have just a 10-minute break.

9:40 AM

Financial Modeling focuses on what we learned in Professor Bollen’s class and teaches us how to put it all into an Excel framework. In fact, we do all of our learning for this class in Excel.

11:10 AM

I’ll get lunch and eat at school while I do classwork or meet with classmates. We have a group assignment due every Tuesday. First, we meet to analyze the assignment and divvy up the work. Later in the week, we’ll meet again to see what everybody has done.

On Mondays, I have a free block of three or four hours. In addition to homework, I’ll use some of the time for networking and job search prep—sending emails to potential employers, researching companies, keeping appointments to talk with them by phone (if they’re in Nashville, I meet with them in person).

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I spend several hours in the middle of the day at a yearlong internship I arranged with a local company, so I bring my lunch there.

Vanderbilt MS Finance students choose from 34 MBA-level electives to customize the program to their career goals

3:00 PM

Econometrics with Cliff Ball—another excellent class that’s part of our core curriculum.

4:30 PM

After my last class of the day, I might stick around for an hour of group work. Otherwise, I drive home to my apartment in The Gulch (10 minutes from campus) so I can let out my dog Cash, a 45-pound mixed breed. He’s a two-and-a-half-year-old rescue. When I got him, he was almost pitch black, so I named him for Johnny Cash, the “Man in Black.” We’ll walk around the neighborhood, or sometimes I take him to the Centennial Dog Park across from the campus.

5:15 PM

After I take Cash out, I’ll typically go to the gym in my apartment complex and exercise.

6:30 PM

Cook dinner and eat. Then, I might follow up on any classwork I need to complete. Or I’ll spend an hour on my other paid internship—a financial modeling project to help a local company understand its financial performance. It’s work I can do from home. Maybe later, I’ll walk to a nearby club or over to the Station Inn to hear some bluegrass. If I’m not cooking, I might walk to the San Anejo on McGavock Street. (On Tuesdays they have great cheap tacos!) Or I might go to East Nashville for dinner—especially The Pharmacy, a great place for a burger and beer.

There’s so much to do in Nashville. You have to find the time to enjoy it all!