13 Jan So what have I been doing at my internship?
I am now on my fourth day of my internship and, what can I say, it’s absolutely great! Perhaps it is the excitement of starting a new phase of life, or the fun I’m having with some great new friends, or maybe even the recent good weather, but the whole experience so far has completely exceeded my expectations! Work is not a chore and I actually love it here – my manager, the work I’m doing, the new friends I work with and the things I’m learning along the way. University doesn’t really prepare you for the real world, but what it does is give you the background knowledge you need to make sense of the things you get exposed to later at the workplace.
I am doing my internship now at a consulting firm in Shanghai and I am here Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm. The manager is flexible and really cool so sometimes we get to go home early, 5 or 5.30pm – Work is not far away either. It is only 4 metro stations away followed by a short 10-minute walk so I just have to leave the apartments by 8:20am to get to work on time. While the metro can get busy during the morning and evening peak periods, it is probably about as crowded as it gets on the trains in Singapore, depending on how lucky you are with how crowded your train carriage is. Compared to Perth it is far denser on the trains here though. Some of the locals here may come across as quite rude when they are pushing their way in, but after I heard that sometimes their pay gets docked for every minute they are late, I was more understanding about their need to get on that train.
While it seems hard to get on the train, I have personally never missed one. If a carriage is full, I just hop over to the next carriage or the one after that. I find it harder to get off the train at my stop when people are pushing in the same time I’m trying to get out. What is surprisingly tough, however, is getting on the elevator to work!! We are in a huge building with loads of other businesses, and although there are 5 or 6 elevators, it gets pretty packed in the morning and it is normal for me to wait about 10 minutes to literally just get on the lift. Once I get to work, everything is fine. The workplace is quite relaxed and we enjoy an open plan work environment. If we need to ask our manager something, they are just a few feet away. Help is always nearby whenever you need it. So what have I actually been doing at work? Well I am not doing coffee runs or photocopying things for people all day, which is what I was dreading. An internship? In China? Unpaid? I didn’t think it was that unrealistic to think I would be a coffee girl. Thankfully, what I am doing here is far from that, and I get to do some interesting, meaningful work. There were some interns who were there before already, so on the first day we had a meeting and they presented their research on the funds they had picked from an investment plan that they felt were the best for each risk profile. We discussed 5-year average returns, expense ratios, Morningstar ratings and exchange rates before deciding on our favourite 12.
Later, I was given the task of completing a template with the details of a regular savings plan and lump sum investment plan that we were going to present to a client. I did my research, compiled its benefits and advantages, compared it with other plans and wrote it up nicely so it would be attractive to a potential client. I was then taught how to do financial planning and the manager ran through the client’s profile and goals with us so that we could come up with a financial plan for their future retirement, property purchases, and children’s education. I then did a write up of how much they would need to invest per month and for how long in order to achieve their goals, as well as what plan I recommended they go with, including my calculations of bonuses and charges during the course of their plan and charts and tables to show things clearly for them. What I’ve spoken about so far wasn’t easy at first, but after a while I got the hang of it. When I was done with that, we had to go fund picking for another client. They had some criteria to be met so we chose the funds accordingly, taking into consideration their risk profile, currency preferences, industry preferences and current portfolio of mutual funds. After a few hours of researching and over 200 funds, we made our eliminations and had our discussion of what funds we felt were the best for the client and why. This is just some of what I’ve done so far and it has only been day 4. In a few days, we are going to be cold calling clients with our scripts ready, complete with responses to common objections that has been prepared for us by our manager. Cold calling is great and you could potentially clinch million dollar deals from it. I am very motivated to begin and cannot wait to start!