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ValueChampion Student Interview Series: Jacob Jarabejo, Yale-NUS Class of 2021

At ValueChampion, we strive to provide informational content regarding financial decisions. For this reason, we are interested in the financial undertaking of attending university and the experience of students in Singapore and abroad. We interviewed Jacob Jarabejo to learn more about his experience at Yale-NUS.

Education is a crucial factor in influencing a person's resources and experiences. Here at ValueChampion, we are interested in sharing the stories of the future generation of Singapore's professionals. To this end, we have been preparing a series of Q&A interviews featuring top students at different universities in Singapore.

Jacob Jarabejo, a sophomore at Yale-NUS, has a keen interest in finance. He is specifically interested in the asset and management and investment banking sectors. Outside of class, he has held important student positions in the Yale-NUS student investment group student organisation and the finance committee in the Yale-NUS student government. We interviewed Jacob to learn more about his experience at Yale-NUS, extracurricular interests and career aspirations.

How did you choose Yale-NUS and how has your experience been thus far?

My journey into Yale-NUS has been a series of coincidences -- I certainly did not plan for it! My best friend told me about the school and highly encouraged me to apply for it. Without my best friend, I would not be in Yale-NUS today.

My Yale-NUS experience has been nothing short of amazing! The college pumps in so many resources for the personal development of each individual and the number of opportunities available here are aplenty. Within my freshman year, I’ve hiked up an active volcano at Mount Bromo, Indonesia; visited Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial at Krakow, Poland; studied at Yale University for a summer programme; and worked in Midtown Manhattan. My time at Yale-NUS has injected so much more colour in my life, and I am extremely grateful for the college.

Did you consider any other schools, and if so, why did you choose Yale-NUS?

My other options for college were NUS Business and NTU Business. Personally, it wasn’t a hard decision to make when it came to either business school or Yale-NUS. Given that I am a naturally curious person, I believed that Yale-NUS will provide me with the sufficient amount of intellectual rigour and challenge.

What is your major/intended major and how did you choose this path?

I have yet to declare a major. I have a strong inclination towards behavioural economics; specifically speaking, behavioural finance. With that, I am still teetering between Economics or PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics). Given that behavioural finance itself is such a broad topic that latches onto so many different pillars such as politics and economics, I am using my sophomore year to narrow down my specific area of interests or intended area of research.

My interest towards behavioural finance was an amalgamation of different experiences. Two of the books that catalysed this interest were Robert Shiller’s Irrational Exuberance and Mariana Mazzucato’s The Value of Everything - Making & Taking in the Global Economy. These books coupled with my internship experiences, whereby I had the privilege to see for myself the inner workings of the finance industry, play a pivotal role in solidifying my interest towards this field of study.

What is your favourite class so far, and why?

My favourite class in Yale-NUS so far is Literature & Humanities. Personally, I struggled with this course as I did not have any prior experience with literature in an academic setting. However, my professors’ enthusiasm and love for the subject influenced me to appreciate the books that I read and I have gained so much knowledge from them. In my opinion, reading the book is easy, but being able to understand what the book is trying to convey to you is the hard part. Each book, under different lenses, conveys a different meaning or story -- this is what makes reading novels such a fulfilling hobby.

Are you involved in any extracurricular activities at Yale-NUS? How have these activities shaped your experience?

I was part of the Yale-NUS Student Investment Group (YNSIG), in which I co-organised the Singapore Asset Management Conference with a few of my friends. The Yale-NUS Student Investment Group provided me with so much networking opportunities and educational resources. The ex-president of YNSIG, Marcus Chua, encouraged me to participate in the CFA Research Challenge in my Freshman year and it was one of the most fulfilling yet challenging thing I have done in my life. My experience in this competition empowered me to apply for my internships confidently. Without YNSIG, I will not be where I am today in terms of professional development.

Have you participated in any internships? If so, what did you think of this opportunity? If not, do you plan to apply and what types of internships interest you?

Currently, I have two internship experiences under my belt. I did an Institutional Equity Sales internship with DBS Vickers in New York City over the summer and I am currently a part-time intern with the Real Estate Multi-Manager team in Aberdeen Standard Investments. I am incredibly grateful for these internships as I have the opportunity to hone my knowledge in financial analysis and appreciating financial models. Coming from a Liberal Arts background, having such an internship experience allows me to learn about topics that are not commonly covered in school. Also, at work, the ability to read critically empowers me to sieve through the deluge of information with greater ease.

What is the best piece of advice related to your field of study that you have received

Do not be scared of making mistakes. The fastest way to learn and improve is by making mistakes. The embarrassment and ‘pain’ that comes from making these mistakes are secondary and it shouldn't be an obstacle.

What do you see yourself doing in 5 and 10 years?

I’m afraid I can’t confidently predict where I will end up in 5-10 years because 5-10 years ago I was just a kid from the children’s home. Life, post-children’s home, was not the easiest as well -- dinner was not a variable more than a constant. This is why it is hard for me to answer this question as so much has changed for me. However, I believe that with good work ethic and a healthy confidence in one’s own ability will bring one far in life.

How has Yale-NUS prepared you for your career goals? Is there anything additional that you wish your university could help you with regarding your career?

Yale-NUS provides you with plenty of opportunities -- professional and academic. Also, the ability to communicate without intimidation with professors has certainly aided me in terms of articulating my ideas.

How are you financing your education, and what are your most helpful online resources or tools?

Currently, I am on the college’s financial aid package. Besides that, I am funding my education through my savings which I have accumulated during my time in the army.

For more information about financing your education and the cheapest student loans for studying in Singapore or abroad, visit our education financing and Facebook pages.

William Hofmann

William is a Product Manager at ValueChampion Singapore, helping consumers and SMEs find the best banking products through comprehensive analysis of data. He previously was an Economic Consultant at Industrial Economics Inc, where he conducted a variety of research and economic analyses. He graduated from University of Vermont with degrees in Economics and Psychology. His work has been featured on a variety of major media such as the Straits Times, the Business Times, the Edge, DailySocial, the Entrepreneur and more.