How Six Internships Clarified Arthur Chao’s Career Path and Purpose

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During an internship with a hedge fund in Hong Kong, Arthur was asked to meet with Japanese listed company executives and hear their investment pitches via a translator. It was a last-minute request, so he was unprepared and had to think fast.

“It was a transformative experience that you can’t get from textbooks. When you’re put into these situations, it forces you to learn. Being thrown in the deep end was an experience that broadened my horizons and taught me to keep cool under pressure.”

Arthur is studying a Bachelor of Commerce/Arts, majoring in Finance and Politics & International Relations, respectively. He’s completed six internships and is about to start working full-time in his final year of study. He says experiencing different areas of the finance industry has given him a broad perspective and a clear understanding of the big picture.

“It’s important to try different paths of the industry you’re interested in. Getting broad exposure helps you know whether or not the job is for you. I’ve had friends go into good jobs only to realise that it’s just not for them.”

Arthur saw the flexible UNSW3+ calendar as an opportunity to take a term off study for the internship in Hong Kong. He also did an internship with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) as part of his Commerce degree.

“At ASIC I worked on a strategic review of insider trading levels in the market. It was a fantastic experience and a great time to be there with everything going on with the royal commission,” he says.

Arthur had enrolled in a course that involves completing an internship and submitting a report on the experience. As part of the course, UNSW Business School contacts industry partners, like ASIC, for internship opportunities.

Arthur also found internships through his personal network. He joined societies including the UNSW Financial Management Association of Australia and the University Network for Investing and Trading. He volunteers as Secretary for the Haymarket Chamber of Commerce and has family who worked in banking. However, Arthur found one of his biggest supporters from the UNSW Business School Career Mentoring Program.

“My mentor has gone out to bat for me a lot. Even though our mentorship program ended about two years ago, I still have lunch with him regularly. Building relationships and networks is critical, I’m often surprised how my former bosses will happily reach out to their networks for me when I’m looking for new opportunities.”

Arthur Chao on the cover of AFR
Arthur Chao on the cover of AFR

When being interviewed for opportunities, Arthur found that it’s important to know what makes you different. For example, he was the banking category winner in the AFR Top100 Future Leaders 2020, and he has won Bronze at the Oceania Junior Fencing Championships.

“Think of something interesting in life that you can share. I’ve had mentors tell me when they talk about candidates they interviewed, it’s easier, for example, to recall ‘that kid who did fencing’.”

Through his work experience, Arthur discovered he was suited to the deadlines, pressure and perks of the banking sector. He also developed political and environmental beliefs – that government reform will come from financial markets and the private sector pushing investment into clean energy.

Arthur’s sense of purpose and experience has led him to a full-time position at Natixis – a leading global renewable energy financier that believes financial institutions have a responsibility for our transition to a low-carbon economy.