January 8, 2019

Students on the Blog: Internship Perspectives Fall 2018 - Part 2 of 2


This is Part 2 of a two-part post.

Every day, there are numerous Zicklin grad students interning in various companies throughout New York City. Each of them have different experiences, learn new skills and come away with new ideas and goals from the work they do.

These Zicklin students shared with the GCMC their thoughts on their fall 2018 internships:

  • Siyu Jia (MS Real Estate '19), Acquisition Intern at a real estate private equity fund
  • Yuezhizi Li (MS Quantitative Methods and Modeling '19), Global Finance Intern at multinational investment bank and financial services company
  • Haoran Lin (MS Quantitative Methods and Modeling '20), Risk Analyst at international banking group
  • Yifan Panfang (MS Accountancy '18), Analyst at major US financial services firm
  • Yanan Xu (MS Accountancy '18), Accounting Intern at a hotel management group


We asked each of them the same four questions, but their answers were hardly the same.

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  • Siyu Jia (MS Real Estate '19)

What has been one of the most important things you’ve learned at your internship

I am currently interning as the acquisition analyst at a real estate private equity fund. My day-to-day tasks involve a lot deal sourcing, site inspection, dual diligence, and new market research. Even though I was able to utilize a lot of lessons learned in class, there was so much to learn, especially when it comes to market insights and transaction management. It could be daunting at first. However, I also see it as an incredible opportunity to immerse myself and ask questions. Furthermore, I realized that I can learn so much faster and more comprehensively through conversations with my supervisors, who have vast experience in real estate, instead of spending a full day searching online and trying to find an answer. I would say the most important thing I learned at the internship was to reach out to people whenever you have a question. You never know how much you can get out of a conversation like that.


How have you approached networking at your internship? Share any one specific example that has been impactful for you.

I have to actively reached out to investment sales brokers and leasing brokers for active deals and market leasing information on a daily basis. I found it extremely helpful to build a network of my own and check in with them every once a while for new deals instead of just starting fresh for every search. It is also important to nourish these relationships by just doing simple favors like introducing them to other investors when certain deals do not fit our investment profile but might work for others. There was one time when our team had to do a market study of an up-and-coming market in the New Jersey waterfront. I happened to know a developer friend from years before that I kept in touch with and was involved in a couple projects in that market. I reached out and was able to get a big picture of the market that we are canvasing over just a cup of coffee. I believe one’s network will play an indispensable role to one’s career.


What has been your biggest contribution to your team at your internship? Why?

My team has been actively looking for reliable sponsors who have shown a good track record of development work in certain sub-markets within the Tri-State area. A friend of mine happened to be searching for a joint venture partner on behalf of the development team of her firm. I got together with her and managed to arrange a meeting for the partners on both sides to meet with each other. Even though we did not decide to proceed on the specific project they were fundraising for, we managed to form a capital partnership with them for future projects that may fit our investment profile better. I am very proud of the initiative I took by getting out there and exploring the potential of my existing network.


After this experience, what would you like to learn next?

I really enjoyed my current internship experience because of the amount of responsibility and the room for me to take initiative. I am definitely looking to step onto a bigger platform with higher deal flow and more established reputation. I would love to have a more well-rounded training program where I can track through the whole deal process in a more systematic way. I would also like to have a mentor who I can go for every question I have in terms of market insights as well as professional development.


For students having a difficult time finding an internship, what is one piece of advice you would give them?

I have two pieces of advice for students having difficulty finding an internship. The first one is to form your network and keep in contact with them. I got my internship through a faculty member and he has a list of internships that he shares with his students. Even though I have never taken his class, I was given access to the list and was able to get his referral for one of the positions, which helped my interview and application significantly. I would advise every student to reach out to all of their existing network for referral or even just advice. I would also encourage everyone to get out there and attend more academic conferences and networking sessions to form new relationships and add to your network. You never know how people you know can help you along your career development. And of course, do not forget to give back and think of others when you see good opportunities for them.



  • Yuezhizi Li (MS Quantitative Methods and Modeling '19)
What has been one of the most important things you’ve learned at your internship?

I am very new to the field of debt capital markets. One of the most important things I’ve learned so far at work is about the function of my team within banking, a complex and highly specialized world. It sits with the coverage group, where bankers are fully dedicated to their individual clients, responsible for and closely following both equity, debt and structure changes.

In capital markets, however, we are also required to have a good sense of market movement, on top of the performance of individual clients. In that way, it is more macro than micro.


How have you approached networking at your internship? Share any one specific example that has been impactful for you.

I didn’t benefit directly from networking, such as getting a referral. Networking, however, does open my mind and gives me direction. I talked to two non-Chinese international students who also have sponsorship needs and asked about their approach on this. Both shared how their job application process involved relentless effort. I compared myself to them, and realized that maybe the reason that I have not been receiving any feedback was due to the low number of applications, and perhaps timing. I started to receive interviews following their suggestions to increase the number of applications later in the summer.


What has been your biggest contribution to your team at your internship? Why?

I am still unsure if I contribute enough to the team. At the moment, a lot of work is assigned to help the pitch book and data preparation. My lack of knowledge in fixed income seems to prevent me from stepping up and taking on more responsibility.


After this experience, what would you like to learn next?

As mentioned above, I need to build my knowledge in debt capital markets, which involves corporate finance and macroeconomics and how these two talk to each other.


For students having a difficult time finding an internship, what is one piece of advice you would give them?

It is probably important to speak to as many as people from companies and to understand the nature of their work from within. In finance, a lot of functions are specialized. Unless you have actually done the work required in the job, you have a very vague understanding of what it is.


  • Haoran Lin (MS Quantitative Methods and Modeling '20)
What has been one of the most important things you’ve learned at your internship?

The most important thing I have learned during my internship is that I need to keep communicating. I'm doing a very analytical job and I used to believe that sending out my analyses was all of my job. But during my internship, I realized that if I want to convey my ideas, I have to even spend more time talking with colleagues than actually doing the analysis.


How have you approached networking at your internship? Share any one specific example that has been impactful for you.

Networking can be done everywhere. The most impactful networking I have done during my internship was actually in a coffee break. We started from our vacation plan and my school courses and ended up with a job opportunity in quantitative finance.


What has been your biggest contribution to your team at your internship? Why?

I helped the team build an automatic reporting tool that can generate a daily report by clicking one button. It is now used on the team among different locations. I used Python and SQL, which I learned at Baruch to generate the report.


After this experience, what would you like to learn next?

I would like to focus more on data scenic and try to bring the latest AI technology into risk management. Everyone is talking about AI these days, and it indeed has great potential. From data mining to natural language processing, these functions can be used in investment banking to improve efficiency and accuracy. For example, counterparty reports are currently done by an analyst following the same template. Natural language processing can automate the process so that clients can get a report faster and more accurately.


For students having a difficult time finding an internship, what is one piece of advice you would give them?

Keep improving the skills that your dream position needs and never give up! When I just started job hunting, I had no idea what employers wanted. Then I looked at lots of job descriptions and summarized the most frequently noted skills and tried to learn them. When I put those skills into my resume, my response rate increased a lot.


  • Yifan Panfang (MS Accountancy '18)
What has been one of the most important things you’ve learned at your internship?

Developing an expertise and becoming a subject matter expert. I figured out that one way to build trust quickly is to show you really understand a subject, and people can rely on you to do a lot of work. With an enjoyable working relationship, it’s much easier to build relationship outside of work. People are also more willing to support you if they acknowledge your expertise.


How have you approached networking at your internship? Share any one specific example that has been impactful for you.

I was very active in attending all kinds of networking and recruiting events while I was looking for internships. I think one important step students can do to increase their chances of getting an internship is meeting people and building relationships with as many professionals as they can. It is important to also be generous in your network so people not only know who you are, but like you as a person and will be willing to offer an opportunity. I was very diligent in a case competition and constantly followed up with a senior person who was a mentor for students participating in the program. From that, I was put on a referral list and ended up with a full time job with the firm.


What has been your biggest contribution to your team at your internship? Why?

I think my biggest contribution is that I already took the lead and guided other new team members while only been at the team for six months. I joined this new team where we model liquidity under different scenarios and set our liquidity binding constraints. I put in a lot of effort, and was able to participate in many strategical analyses including Brexit analysis and Funding IHC analysis. I was able to guide the members that later joined the team and have played an important role in the team.


After this experience, what would you like to learn next?

I hope to develop an expertise in the secured funding space, and understand different liquidity drivers, which will position me very well for analytical and strategy roles within bank resource management and a securities lending role. I also hope to continue polishing presentation skills to deliver concise and effective communication.


For students having a difficult time finding an internship, what is one piece of advice you would give them?

Do not lose hope and continue trying. I received so many rejection letters before my offer letters. The only thing I did right and will continue doing is to be persistent and keep trying. Opportunities are always out there. If you missed this one, then catch the next one.



  • Yanan Xu (MS Accountancy '18)
What has been one of the most important things you’ve learned at your internship?

From my internship experience, I think that taking criticism is an important thing in your career. Don't believe everything and have your own perspective. It can be difficult to be told that you need to improve upon something or that you completed a task incorrectly. As an intern, I learned how to handle criticism with grace (both from watching coworkers receive criticism and from receiving criticism myself), which also built my confidence in a professional setting. Since I already had a trial run in the workplace as an intern, I know now that I can handle criticism maturely, and I know how to respond to it professionally and respectfully, which will definitely help me in my career.


How have you approached networking at your internship? Share any one specific example that has been impactful for you.

I found my internship through a referral. In the business world, networking is the most important thing. Whenever there is a networking event, just go and talk with someone if you are free. Build as many connections as you can and follow up. For myself, as a president of a club, I play a big role in reaching out to professionals to come to club events. Take this internship as an example, our club held a networking event last semester. I talked with the manager from this company during that event. After the event, I sent a thank you letter to him and invited him to a coffee chat to get more insight into his role. Also, I invited him to join our club's upcoming events. After these events, a connection was built and he knew more about me. When there was an opening in his company, he contacted me to see if I was available for the position.


What has been your biggest contribution to your team at your internship? Why?

I was reviewing the company’s bills and discovered that we were greatly overpaying for electricity and water. I recommended to my boss that we install energy efficient light bulbs throughout the office and install low flow toilets in all the bathrooms. She approved the idea and was very impressed with my initiative. In the time since, the company’s electric bills have decreased an average of $200 a month, and our water bills have decreased an average of $250 a month.


For students having a difficult time finding an internship, what is one piece of advice you would give them?

My advice is to attend as many networking events as you can. More than 80% students get their jobs through networking. The importance of networking shouldn't be discounted when you are in the midst of a job search. In fact, networking should become a part of your daily work and career-related endeavors. Your career network should be in place for when you need it, both for job searching and for moving along the career ladder. Since you never know when you might need it, it makes sense to have an active career network, even if you don't need it today. Networking, or "professional" networking, involves using personal, professional, academic and familial contacts to assist with a job search, achieve career goals, or learn more about your field, or another field you'd like to work in. Networking can be a good way to hear about job opportunities or get an "in" at the company where you'd like to work.

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