Wednesday, July 23, 2008

HSMP: is there light at the end of the tunnel?

I had posted previously about the changes in the HSMP system. This post is part 2 to my earlier post which you can read here.

Since my original post, Home Office has stopped taking HSMP applications completely. They only accept HSMP applications they have received up to June 30, 2008. Any application that was dated after June 30 has to be done under the Tier 1 (General) system.

My main trouble was that I have never received a reference number for my application. Short of tracking the receipt of my application on US Post Office web page, I had no indication that whether Home Office had my application or not. First I sent an email to them. I've got an automated response that said they do not respond to emails anymore. That is very frustrating since they mention email as one of the contact methods on the HSMP contact page. You can reach it here.

So I went on a phone call expedition to find out whether I can get hold of a live human being at the Home Office. After several trials, and waiting on the line for a grand total of 40 minutes, I've found that they've put a new option to their call center. You can call the number, then press 2 for HSMP questions, press 2 for general inquiries, and then press 1 for judicial review. Once I did that, someone picked up the phone instantly. I don't know if that was my luck or not.

Anyways, I've learnt that they are currently processing applications dated March 25th (which is also published on their web site - so what they have on the web site is up to date). The officer looked up my reference number using my name and date of birth. Thank god they had it in the system! He said they've received mine on March 31st, and they should start processing mine any day now. He said processing takes between 1 week to 1 month.

I've also learnt that you can change your contact address by sending a fax to Home Office. I can't publish the fax number here, but it's different than what's posted on the contact page I've linked above. That fax number may or may not work for changing an address, I have no idea. He also confirmed that it is possible to change from student or any other work permit status to HSMP once you receive the HSMP approval letter, and you do not need to leave the UK for that. If you are in the UK under a tourist visa you would need to leave and re-enter though.

I hope that is helpful information to some, as I was not able to find anything similar to this on the UK immigration related forums.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Beeell's Follow-up to my Previous Post (Q&A)

Beeell (author of the LBS So Journ blog which has a link on this page) has took another stab at the questions my reader sent me. You can read them at:


Monday, July 7, 2008

Answering some questions

I've received this email a couple of weeks ago, and since the questions here seems to be a recurring theme in the emails I've been getting recently, I've decided to publicly answer this one. The author of this email was kind enough to let me publish it here. I also like the kind remarks, and I guess one of the reasons I decided to publish this email was to show off. :)

I should also say that I am not in the best position to answer these questions, since I have not even started the program yet. I reserve the right to change my opinions through the course of next year, so please take these answers with a grain of salt.

[...]I wish to inform you that I am already a business management graduate and a chartered secretary specialising in corporate and economic laws. I was contemplating a number of options for pursuing an advanced program in finance. One option is a second MBA from one of the premier institutes in the US or UK and another option is the Masters in Finance program at LBS. I have close to 4 years of experience in the financial services industry.

As I was just reading up some material on the MiF course offered by LBS, I came across your blog and found it extremely useful. You have given a wealth of information. What I liked the most about your blog was the way in which you have shared your experiences / feelings / opinions. However, I need some additional details which I believe will help me take an informed decision:-

a. How good is MiF, LBS? I mean without an opportunity to intern with an iBank / hedge fund what are your chances of getting into a bulge bracket ibank?

I think doing an internship increases your chances of getting into a bulge bracket i-bank or a hedge fund considerably. This is specially the case if you do not have any work experience in the type of firm you want to work at. LBS MiF program has a requirement that you have at least 2 years of finance experience, but they are pretty vague about that requirement. You could have been working for the IT group in a commercial bank for 2 years and still be admitted to MiF. Operative term being "could have been" since LBS admissions solely makes the decision.

If you think you do not have the right amount of experience, or if you want to make a significant career move, I urge you to consider the MBA program instead. It's a 2 year program, and you have great chance to do an internship between years 1 and 2.

When I go to London, I will root for LBS to support pre-MiF internships since I've gone through a lot of trouble securing this internship, and also getting the administrative stuff done (such as visas). Oxford MFE program on the other hand, provides help for their students to get an internship before the program starts without even asking for it.

b. In your blog you had mentioned that only 30% - 40% of the MiF students get placed through the milk rounds. The rest have to find jobs on their own. This does make me feel extremely insecure. Does this mean that the school does not support the students in anyway?

That's the number I've got from a current MiF student. I think it's more empirical than a rock solid number. But yes, since the timing of milk rounds is a little awkward, not many MiF students get a job offer. Reminder, the first milk round is mainly for full time job offers and takes place sometime around November. Second milk round is around April/May and is mainly for internship opportunities. If you are an MBA student that calendar makes a lot of sense. You do the May milk round for an internship during your first year, and the Nov milk round for a full time job just when you start the second year.

I don't know how much support you get from the school. The people (MiF staff, alumni and current students) I've talked to sounded pretty calm about the whole process, since everyone gets placed one way or the other. Career services is pretty good and they start working with you even before you get a foot in London. They publish resume books, and try very hard to get you placed. But at the end of the day it's up to you to network your way into a decent job, or to present yourself to the prospective employers.

c. You had recommended that it is always better to do an intern before joining MiF. How long should the internship be? How to go about getting an internship with an iBank? I am currently staying in India. What are the chances for me to get an internship with bulge bracker bank in one of the leading financial centres? ( In my knowledge, it is quite limited... :) Do give your views on this.

i-bank internships are hard to get. Here's why. Their internship applications close sometime in mid to late december. Even if you apply in Round 1 to LBS, you may not get a decision by then. And let me tell you that telling people you have an admission offer from LBS places some weight on your application. So do your best, apply as early as you can, even before the R1 deadline. That way you may apply to i-bank internships before they close.

How long? - I don't know. 2 months should be the bare minimum I think. It depends on the organization you are interning with, and they tend to determine the duration most of the time.

d. I have also read that networking is one of key aspects for getting a job in an ibank. With a 1 year program, and placements starting within the first few months of joining LBS ( MiF), how can one possibly network and get a job?

I am definitely not the right person to answer this question right now, but maybe within a year I'll have some first hand experience to share with you.

Here are what I know so far. There are school trips to NY, Hong Kong etc. I think it's important to attend those, since every time an employer shows up at the school people would be circling him like a flock of ants. I don't think that's the right way of networking your way into a job.

LBS has a ton of clubs for different interests, you can see the complete list here. You should use these as tools to meet people in the industry that you normally would not be able to.

e. I firmly believe that the courses that LBS offers is great. But will the coaching for the first few months at LBS MiF suffice to crack the technical ibanking interviews?

We'll see. But the assumption is you already come from a finance background anyways.

I understand that LBS has a terrific brand name. But somehow the finer details of the MiF course make me feel a bit sceptical.

As I had mentioned, your blog was indeed awesome. (perhaps you should be charging people for this... :) more informative that any other site that I have been visiting in the recent past. This prompted me to shoot off this mail to you.

Charging?? Hmm. Good idea, but I don't know how much of my hefty tuition bill I can recoup from this site. Although clicking on the advertisements on this site would help for a starter. (or buy yourself a kindle!)

Would greatly appreciate your views on the aforementioned points.

Keep well....

Kind rgds.

No problem at all! Hope this was helpful.
Keep reading!