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A day in the life of a finance intern

A day in the life of a finance intern

A typical working day starts off around at 7:30. Waking up in the mornings can definitely be a struggle; however my really loud alarm usually does the job. I usually get breakfast with a group of other interns, we make porridge which gives us some good energy to start off the day. I usually head down to the main lobby to meet up with some of the other interns also heading off to work, there’s a group of us that all work in the same area in Pudong so we take the Metro together. The metro in the mornings can be busy but it’s not absolutely packed as I imagined it would be. I would say it’s not substantially more crowded than peak hour back home in Perth. We get off on the metro just before Century Avenue station, one of the biggest and busiest stations Shanghai. It’s actually geographically closer to go to Century Avenue then transfer lines to get closer to our offices however some of the interns went to Century Avenue on the first day and said it was a complete disaster because there were so many people. After that we all conclusively decided that we would get off before Century Avenue.
We usually get to work somewhere around 9. I work with 3 other interns, two also from Australia and one from Scotland. Our office is on Century Avenue opposite the World Financial Centre (colloquially known as the bottle opener), the place is quite nice, very modern and well appointed; you wouldn’t be able to distinguish it from a western office if nobody was there. Our supervisor is an American who is the managing director (MD) and started up his own firm here many years ago, while he still has an office in the US most of the work takes place in Shanghai.

Our work primary relates to equity raisings and M&A deals, the clients are mostly US listed companies that operate in China. At the beginning of the internship we also made lot of calls to clients we’ve worked with in the past to arrange discussions between our MD and the CFO’s of companies we were calling. Our subsequent work is based on what deals our MD makes with them and other clients. I perform various tasks such as doing background research on companies, conducting financial analysis using comparables and DCF’s and creating slides and presentations. One thing which is definitely different compared to uni is that things are often a lot more vague and there isn’t simply one correct answer or way to do things, it all depends on the assumptions you make. On this particular day I finished up the comparables analysis for a Chinese education services company and then did the financials for a potential M&A deal between two firms in the real estate industry. The nice thing about the work was these were the original companies I called to establish discussions with our firm so it was great seeing to be able to see the calls progressing onwards to some real tangible outcomes.

At around 12 we head off to lunch, one thing which is quite different in China is that people that their lunch breaks really early, often there will be a lot of hustle and bustle in the corridors as soon as 11:30. Theres quite a good range of places to eat at in Pudong, we usually head to the World Financial Center basement or the Super Brands Mall. After lunch we continue on with our work. I find the afternoons going slower than mornings and usually I get a coffee to get me through the day. In the afternoon I continue with the work on the M&A deal. The hours tick by and eventually it’s time to head home, technically we finish at 6 but very rarely do we end that late and instead we usually head home any time after 5. In the evening our boss takes us to a steakhouse called Morton’s, between 5-7 there an amazing deal where you buy any drink and are treated to effectively an all you can eat supply of mini steak sandwiches which are brought around the restaurant. After dinner we head back to the hotel to recharge for the next day.

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