Mydah Naseem entered New Jersey Institute of Technology as a business major but as a sophomore switched to financial technology. Personal interest and opportunity sparked the shift.
“I always had an inclination toward technology,” explained Naseem, who plans to work as a financial analyst and eventually, in corporate finance. “I also have always enjoyed problem-solving, so this field and my career goals align in this sense. The career path I have chosen is very data-heavy and fintech will make it a lot easier for me and open a whole new avenue of job opportunities for me.”
NJIT is part of a ripple of New Jersey universities embracing fintech. A few offer it in the form of a bachelor’s degree while others offer it as a master’s. Still others give undergraduates the option of concentrating on fintech when pursuing a degree in finance or business.
Market demand is driving the need for fintech training. Everything from startups to major corporations need workers versed in the tools, processes and concepts behind fintech, including data mining, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Indeed, the number of fintech jobs available on ZipRecruiter doubled each year between 2016 and 2019. Roles range from software engineer and information technology manager to data scientist, business analyst and database administrator, at companies such as Venmo, Zelle and GoFundMe. Well-paying roles at that.
Recognizing the surging demand, NJIT’s Martin Tuchman School of Management introduced its fintech major last year — three years after first offering a concentration in the discipline. The 120-credit program offers a blend of classic finance courses like Financial Markets and Institutions with the likes of AI for Business, Data Mining and Machine Learning, and Blockchain Technology for Business. Student interest is already high: 12% of this year’s applicants from first-year students were for fintech, second only to business.
“The key to our success is our relentless effort to integrate technology and experience into our curriculum and push the boundaries of higher education by preparing students for more technology-driven economies,said Oya Tukel, dean of the management school, which has an entrepreneurial spirit that the larger NJIT also shares. The Princeton Review has recognized the university as one of the Top 50 Undergraduate Schools for Entrepreneurship Studies and a “Best Value” college that delivers return on investment, namely strong opportunities for career prospects after graduation.
Essential to mastering the tools behind fintech is applying them in real-world situations. Avenues for that at NJIT include internships, co-operative educational experiences and VentureLink, a campus-based resource for tech startups that’s connected to the fintech program. In addition, the university is creating a group of business leaders who will mentor students and introduce them to job opportunities.
Certain novel classes also enable students to hone fintech skills. At NJIT, for example, undergrads used data analysis in a fall 2020 course on how to develop a plan to start a business on campus. That’s where senior Marina Arrese developed her taste for fintech, as a leader on a finance and information systems team. She also applies it in a campus job as an assistant at the Ray Cassetta Financial Analysis Laboratory, where she does equity research for an NJIT investment fund and helps peers master the use of Bloomberg terminals.
“Studying fintech at NJIT has given me the technical background and skills that make me a very analytical and rational person. I am confident those skills will foster my professional success wherever I go,” said Arrese, a business administration major with a concentration in fintech. “I will be an entrepreneur one day and the financial technology tools and knowledge I have acquired will allow me to take care of my own finances and to do so with an efficiency that can only be achieved by leveraging the power of technology.”
More information on NJIT’s fintech major can be found at njit.edu/fintech.
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