FinTech Students share their internship experience with “one of the most innovative companies on the planet.”

July 24, 2023 | By Emilia Chiscop-Head, PhD

FinTech Students share their internship experience

“I am beyond impressed with the students and the quality of their work”, said Todd Ziegler, the TruckCoinSwap’s CEO who recently visited Duke


Six students in the Master of Engineering in Fintech program are interning with TruckCoinSwap (TCS) this summer to gain practical skills about how digital assets can be used for increasing efficiency and eliminating financial waste associated with supply chains in transportation industry. TCS is describing itself “one of the most innovative companies on the planet” which uses the “Satoshi thesis” to combat trade finance costs and inflation in global supply chains. “I am beyond impressed with the students and the quality of their work. After having the opportunity to spend the day with them, I am even more thrilled of being able to access this kind of talent,” said Todd Ziegler, the TruckCoinSwap’s CEO who visited Duke during the July 8 weekend to meet with members of the senior management, partners and advisors at the Duke FinTech campus in Durham. 


While on campus, the company sponsors and interns reviewed the internship projects and met with some of the professors assisting the students with their research and technical work. “The most exciting project that I am working on is applying my Python skills and econometric analysis techniques to quantify the impact of various activities on the token market. This hands-on experience allowed me to enhance my analytical and technical capabilities while working with real-world data”, said Ziyan Zhang, one of the six FinTech students interning with TCS, who joined the program from China after recognizing “the importance of acquiring a diverse skill set to effectively solve practical problems in the financial industry.”


Her colleague, Siyuan Fan, also from China, is working with TCS on Bill of Lading (BOL) data extraction. She is analyzing shipper details, carrier information, and cargo specifications to optimize transportation payment processes and enhance operational efficiency in the trucking industry. For Long Zhang, another student from China who is expected to graduate in Spring 2024, the most exciting project is extracting barcode and data from PDF invoices, a process that “combines the cutting-edge AI technology and Fintech knowledge.”


The students chose TCS because they are interested in blockchain technology and its applications in decentralized finance (DeFi) – tools that TCS uses to revolutionize payment systems for carriers. “Our work exposes us to how real fintech companies operate and how various technologies are applied”, said Long. “By joining TCS's modeling team, I knew I would have the opportunity to work on projects directly related to the cryptocurrency market, allowing me to gain practical experience and knowledge in this dynamic field,” said enthusiastically Ziyan Zhang.


They joined FinTech to learn how to drive the digital transformation of the financial sector.


Students chose FinTech for their graduate education because it offers a comprehensive curriculum that combines programming and financial knowledge.Ziyan came to Duke convinced that the new and cutting edge FinTech program will equip her with “a diverse toolkit to navigate the rapidly evolving field of financial technology”. After graduation, in December 2023, Ziyan hopes to become “a professional capable of driving digital transformation and innovation within the financial sector.” Siyuan shared a very similar career goal. Long Zhang chose FinTech because “the curriculum of the program was well designed: It offers very hardcore programming classes to improve our programming efficiently, finance classes to enrich our financial knowledge, and more importantly, a unique decentralized finance course as well as a Web3 course. Also, the program has a very good job support. It can help us solve a lot of problems in employment,” Long stated. Her primary areas of interest are blockchain technology and Dapp. My primary area of interest lies in blockchain and cryptocurrency. I have developed a strong fascination for these subjects through my previous experiences and personal exploration. During my undergraduate studies, I conducted a macroeconomic research project that involved comparing the performance of Bitcoin and gold during domestic recessions”, said Ziyan who is now thrilled to have the opportunity to see how strategic choices are made and “observe seasoned professionals in action.”


The interns advise incoming students to take courses seriously, ask questions and utilize student services.


If there is one piece of advice for incoming students that Ziyan and Siyuan would give, this would be to select a good internship and to be proactive in their learning. “Take the initiative to understand company's products, services, and the overall industry landscape. Familiarize yourself with the relevant technologies and skills you need. If there's anything you don't understand, don't hesitate to ask questions,” said Ziyan. “Stay curious and proactive in seeking out projects and assignments that align with your interests,”, echoed Siyuan. Long advises FinTech students to take the courses very seriously, and utilize the many resources that Duke offers, including career guidance and training.