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Advice from alumni: Bryan Lam

Bryan Lim, from Malaysia, was the Student Council President during his time at EF Academy New York, which earned him the nickname “the Pres.” He discovered his business interest very early on and at EF Academy, he explored his entrepreneurial spirit by being one of the driving forces behind the student café “Seven Continents.” After graduating from EF Academy in 2015, he went on to business school and is now studying Finance at one of the top Business Schools in the US: University of Notre Dame. He is now aiming to enter the financial industry, specifically investment banking or private equity. Read more about our alumnus below.

How did you hear about EF Academy and why did you choose to attend?

In Malaysia, I went to a British school called Kuala Lumpur International School. However, I always knew that I wanted to study in the U.S. because I felt that the schools in the U.S. suited me better. I was longing for the whole college experience and dorm life. I was aiming to get into one of the top undergraduate business schools in the U.S. so I worked myself backwards in terms of what I thought I needed to get in. That is how I came to choose EF Academy, since I thought that EF Academywould help increase my chances of getting in. One of the main factors that me attracted to EF Academy was the professional university guidance team. Looking back, I honestly don’t think I would have been able to make it to where I am now without my university advisors Marilee Jones and Rachel Jackiewicz. Moreover, EF Academy had a school in New York – who doesn’t want to go there?

Who were you at school?

Everyone gave me the nickname – the “Pres.” Being the Student Council President, I felt that I had to be a good role model at school. However, with my close friends I didn’t care at all – I could be a fool if I felt like it.

What university did you go to afterwards? What did you study and why?

I am currently studying Finance at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. It is a four-year program and in the beginning we are taking general classes. The classes are good but I just want to get started with the finance parts.

When choosing my university, I was mainly looking at top undergraduate business schools in the U.S. As Notre Dame is a highly ranked business school and many top investment banks are recruiting here, I applied here and I got in. Sara Walsh, one of my favorite teachers at EF Academy, was a Notre Dame graduate and she did a good job of convincing me to accept the offer and come here.

What are your plans – or dreams – for the future?

My mother always wanted me to become a doctor but she is a stock broker herself while my dad is in business. Thus, I got a lot of exposure to the business world while growing up and it kind of rubbed off on me. Looking ahead, I believe that I want to go into investment banking and private equity. I know it is tough but the financial sector really interests me. To try it out, I will be doing an internship in Malaysia this summer at RHB Investment Bank.

What tips do you have for current students who want to study what you study?

If you want to go into business school, make sure you show the universities that you have an interest in business. Being able to exhibit tangible proof and examples of this interest can really help your application. In my case, I started and ran the student café at EF Academy which I believe was essential for my college application as I could prove that I had an interest in business.

Do you keep in touch with your EF Academy classmates?

Last December, me and a couple of my friends, Patch Nattamon Rawanghet and Billy Sudiarto, went to visit our classmate Camila Son in Brazil. I would never have gone there by myself but having a friend there really made it a great experience. It was my first time in South America and I would definitely go back, preferably with a local friend.

What’s your favorite memory from EF Academy?

This is a tough question, I had so many good memories. For me, just going into New York City every weekend was great. Since I went to church every Sunday, I would always make the trip and then usually I would stay behind and explore the city.

What do you miss the most?

The people of course. I liked living together with my friends, who really became like a second family to me because we did everything together.

What is one thing that you learned from EF Academy that you found valuable for university? For work life? For your personal life?

Meeting people from all over the world has made me a person that is more conscious and aware of different cultures. I think that is something that is really unique to EF Academy. I could of course learn this by traveling to all these places. However, I would never have been able to build the friendships that enabled me to see the world from my classmates’ points of view.

What final tips would you give to current students?

Don’t stick with people only from your own country! I understand that it is much easier to stay within one’s own comfort zone. However, it defeats the purpose of going to EF Academy. By just being at the school, you travel half the world and are able to get to know so many people. Even four years is not that long and I would have never traveled the way that I did if I hadn’t attended EF Academy. Of course, there will be some culture shock along the way. Embrace the differences – you will never learn to appreciate them if you don’t put yourself out there.

Who is the most successful alumni that you know of?

Andrew Seitawan

Any advice to fellow alumni who are at university or starting their career?

Definitely networking – it is key! Having the right contacts is the thing you need to get your foot in the door, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

How would you summarize your EF Academy experience?

The best two years of my life so far! The people (teachers, college counselors and friends) and being in New York made it the best time of my life.

Short questions:

Name: Bryan Lam

Age: 20

Nationality: Malaysian

How many languages do you speak? Malay, English and little Cantonese and Mandarin

EF Academy campus: EF Academy New York

Graduation year: 2015

Program: IB (Economics, Business, Literature, Math, environmental science, Chinese)

Residence or host family: Residence

Favorite subject: Economics, since it was the closest subject to what I wanted to study at university, I also liked the teacher.

Favorite teacher: These were my favorite teachers and I still maintain a close personal relationship with them.
Sara Walsh – English teacher; drove two hours to meet up with me.
Timothy Burns – Economics teacher
Ashley Fetzer – Environmental Science teacher

Favorite club/society: I have to say the Student Council. I was the President and we started a student café. There was actually a lot of work involved: we had to do everything from getting funding from the school to organizing all the purchasing. We called the café “Seven Continents” because we had students from all over the world and we sold everything from pastries and snacks to coffee. As people at school were always hungry, it worked really well. It was a great experience to see the café going from an idea to actually implementing it.

What is the next country you want to visit?
Somewhere in Africa, probably South Africa

Who to interview next:
Billy Surtiado
Azmine Mushed

Shouts outs to:

Lauren Raia – Previous Activities Coordinator
Everyone else that I mentioned

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