How to Excel in Finance

How to Excel in Finance

finance intern Iain, our supervisor and I on our last day of work.

Upon applying for the program, I decided to complete an internship in the area of finance – which place would be better than Shanghai, after all! This article, hopefully, will give an idea of what I do as an intern and how I am finding the experience. Every intern I’ve met has had their own unique experience with varying levels of satisfaction.
My placement is with a boutique merchant bank. My supervisor is American who has worked for world-renowned companies in the U.S. and has been very successful in his career. He also has a passion for what he does and extensive understanding as an employee and founder of his own business. This knowledge has made him great as a mentor. We work with him in one office, which has allowed us to gain good insight into how the industry operates and learn directly from him on a daily basis.

finance internship The other interns from my company and I dining at Din Tai Fung for lunch.

Every day starts with catching the metro to Pudong, the financial district of Shanghai, with another Absolute intern placed at my company. The public transport system is amazing in Shanghai, with a train arriving every three minutes without delays. The workday starts at 9am and I spend a majority of my time with my new best friend, Microsoft Excel. We are great buddies now and have been on many adventures together, both good and bad – it’s a similar story for PowerPoint. I have also been responsible for organising meetings with a vast number of CEO’s and CFO’s through both e-mail and phone.
Lunch is always a highlight – the other interns in my office and I usually eat together somewhere in the WFC (World Financial Centre) mall or IFC (International Finance Centre) mall. If we have enough time, we’ll go for a wander to see some more of Pudong. We have discovered, though slightly too late, a small lane not far from our building where local restaurants serve enough food to see you through an entire day for around 15 kuai, so roughly AUD$3 – in China it is worth hunting for food off the beaten track and following the locals!

finance internship Our walk through a park to work in the mornings and after lunch – Shanghai is a big city but it also has some beautiful green spaces.

After the hour-long lunch break, we continue at work until about 6pm, give or take depending on how much work there is to do. The environment can be fast-paced and the sense of urgency escalates quickly, in which case you need to step up to the challenge, even if that means working overtime. The speed can also be a bit overwhelming when you’re not entirely sure of what the task at hand requires. The confidence I have in myself and my abilities has grown a lot in learning to handle such situations, to just go with it and deal with any ambiguity as you go. I really enjoyed working as part of a team – I find it is much more fun and motivating having people in a situation with you, both when things go well and when you’re struggling. The environment a good team creates can make all the difference to your outlook and productivity.
After work, the day is not over! Networking has been a key part of my internship experience – our boss strongly encouraged us, as ambitious interns here for a short amount of time, to network and make contacts for our future careers. We have been to six events, all of which have allowed me to develop my networking skills, hone in on my business card-exchanging skills and meet some very interesting people. This has given me great perspectives on living and working in China and in various industries. On nights when networking is not on the schedule, I go home and relax with the other interns or head out to further explore the Shanghainese culture and its nightlife.

My time as a finance intern in Shanghai is nearly over and I will miss the lifestyle! I have learned a lot and will take home with me many new skills and experiences that I can use in whatever it is I do in the future.

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