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MS in Finance

Ip, Sarah

Sarah Ip

Senior Financial Analyst

As an undergraduate at UC-Berkeley, Sarah Ip majored in political economy, with a concentration in globalization. With the intent of going to law school, she interned with the U.S. Department of Commerce and with the San Francisco County Public Defender’s Office.

But somewhere along the line, she realized she wasn’t ready to commit to law school and was becoming increasingly interested in business. She decided that after receiving a bachelor’s degree, she would pursue an advanced degree in that area to build stronger technical skills. She went straight from Cal to the one-year Master’s program in Finance at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business.

“It was really challenging to come in without a background in business,” she says. “Material that was new to me was a refresher course for other students. I had to work harder, but it was good to have peers and faculty who were highly collaborative.”

Class sizes, Ip says, were not as large as at Cal, which is a public institution, and that made it easier to ask the professors for feedback and to get to know and work with other students.

“If you were struggling, professors were willing to say, ‘Come to my office hours this week, and I’ll help you with understanding this concept.’ A lot of professors were willing to teach you more based on your interests.”

Students regularly helped each other out. Some, Ip says, were strong on accounting and finance; she was good at analytics, statistics, and economics. “Everyone does participate in knowledge transfer. There’s a lot that you can’t necessarily learn in the classroom, but that peers can teach you.”

Ip started at Santa Clara in June 2014, a few weeks after graduating from Cal, and before she got there, she had begun thinking ahead to a job after graduation. At Cal, she had talked with several companies, but it was at a career fair at Santa Clara that she was approached by a recruiter for Maxim Integrated, a publicly traded San Jose firm, founded in 1983, that develops analog technology solutions for a wide range of industrial applications.

“Initially, Maxim Integrated wasn’t even on my radar,” she says, “but my goal was to work for a company that offered a financial rotation program to allow me to gain more exposure to different roles in the financial field. It turned out to be a great fit and an amazing opportunity.”

The rotation program is focused on leadership development. Newly hired Finance graduates work under the umbrella of the firm’s CFO, specializing in an area of work one year, then rotating to another and another the first three years before it’s determined where they’ll end up.

In her first year as senior financial analyst, Ip was assigned to the Securities Exchange Commission reporting unit, and had been involved in preparing Maxim Integrated’s 10K form at the time she was interviewed.

Ip hasn’t altogether ruled out law school in the future but is happy in the business world at the moment. She feels the one-year Finance program was right for her.

“I would say if you’re interested in Finance and have the desire to build a strong technical background, Santa Clara University is a good option. Make sure you take the time to make good connections, because the year flies by,” she says.

—Michael Wallace