Somewhere about the middle of the Easter term, the students start to realise that there are only a few weeks left, their course is nearly over and the world of work beckons. This leads to an upsurge of socialising, including with faculty, as time runs out. It leads to a period of great fun, lots of very late nights and a certain poignancy, as we make new friends who then must leave.
The course (and the whole Cambridge experience) is very intense. It’s not just the work, though I think we do push students pretty hard. It’s the rather amazing experience of being in a very special place with a lot of really interesting people from many different countries. You might say this is true of some employers but it’s just not the same, there isn’t the time or the environment for conversation, learning and, dare I say it, the occasional romance.
It’s a very old tradition that at the end of the Easter term, Cambridge dissolves into a slightly dreamy, golden period known as May Week (though it’s actually in June). There are college balls, which typically go on all night, lots of garden parties and miscellaneous other entertainments. For undergraduates who have just completed their final exams, the release from the intense pressure of studying is palpable. For graduate students coming to the end of a very full year of study, it’s not quite so extreme, but May Week does very nicely round off the year.
Some students are staying for the summer to do internships or dissertations. Others are interviewing for jobs. About half already have jobs and a few have even started work, which is a bit sad because they haven’t had time for a holiday, which I think is very much needed at this stage (speaking personally).
And the farewells are a little melancholy. The official end of year party was great – including dancing performances from two students. One was Michael Jackson via Vietnam and the other was a brilliant and enchanting display of Egyptian dance.
Then there are the individual goodbyes, which are a bit of a struggle after all this time in close company. Some of the students will return quite soon, as they will be based in London, but others are away in Asia and the US. We hope they’ll return for graduation. Last year’s MFins return for their graduation (postponed owing to the Icelanding volcano) in two weeks. Nearly all are coming back, including several all the way from Asia and Australia. It should be a great weekend.
And just as I get nostalgic about last year’s class, the prospect of teaching and getting to know the next year’s class is a big compensation. We have another terrific line of students coming, with the same broad geographic diversity. We are managing to keep the proportion of woman up at about a third, which is pretty good going in light of the balance in the finance industry itself.
So we are soon to enter the brief gap between the end of one year and the beginning of the next, during which the MFin team try to get some rest, before starting the merry-go-round again.