Our Stories

Making Himself Marketable

MSF helps non-finance undergrad reach his end goal.

Matt Seward
Financial Analyst, IBM

Vanderbilt MS Finance 2022

Even before he started the MSF program, Matthew Seward was focused on the end. What drew him to Vanderbilt most, he explains, “was the career success students were having after graduation in terms of starting salary and job function. While it was important to learn as much as I could during grad school, it was even more important that I was marketable to employers by the end of the program, and the job reports from previous years proved that was possible.”

The historical return on investment in the program was especially important to Matthew, who lacked a background in finance as an undergraduate. When he realized that he was more interested in a finance career than the path toward data analytics he had been following, he decided to pursue a graduate finance degree rather than switch majors. That way, he could continue to build “marketable technical skills” from his major in business analytics while gaining the finance background that could open many more opportunities.

His experience during the first months in the program provided personal validation for the premise that students entering with very little finance knowledge could thrive. “In Mod I,” Matthew recalls, “the classes I was taking were initially very intimidating. By Mod II, I found myself more comfortable with the material, and that was reflected in my grades. It’s actually the academic achievement I’m proudest of.”

As he progressed in the program, Matthew was able to customize the curriculum to his goals. “Because I was going into corporate finance, I was able to take a class in corporate financial policy, whereas some people who were going into investment banking took a class in mergers and acquisitions. I really liked how you can tailor the classes to build on a skill set that will make you more successful in the field you want to enter.” 

Besides his own hard work, Matthew also credits his success to a diverse cohort of fellow students. “My peers had the most substantial impact on my experience,” he says. “Enrolling in a Master’s program, especially one that’s so technical, and especially at an institution like Vandy, means that you are going to interact with people who know a lot more than you do, and I think that’s great. I’ve always been told that you should never want to be the smartest person in the room, and that was really the case during my time at Vanderbilt. I’m always learning from my peers, and I like to think they are always learning from me.”

Fun Fact: Matthew is an ordained minister.

I really liked how you can tailor the classes to build on a skill set that will make you more successful in the field you want to enter.