Reflective Essay

Posted: February 21, 2017

The purpose of this essay is to give a comprehensive reflection on the experiences I’ve been through as an intern. Having been placed in the asset management department, I had the opportunity to interact with different financial systems, staff, and most importantly, the real work experience. Just as stipulated in the Business Experience framework, the whole internship experience is divided into discovery, reality, and hindsight stage. I was highly motivated when I started internship since I was confident that my theoretical perspectives would help the organization to increase its productivity. I thought that it would be easy to relate theories to real life experiences, but it was not the case. The whole experience changed my perception about the financial world, and led me to change my future academic aspirations. Additionally, I developed my communication, analytical, and interpersonal skills.

My Business Experience

I had the opportunity of experiencing the three business experiences, namely: discovery, reality, and hindsight stage.

  1. Discovery Stage

As a finance-economics student, I had a lot of expectations from the business world, and I thought I had a lot to offer to the market. Though my main interest was in investment, I was placed at the finance department. Since I only had the theoretical knowledge, I didn’t know what to expect from the department. The tasks comprised of data entry, copy-pasting, and balancing financial statements. Most of the work was basic, and it didn’t take long before I familiarized with the departmental operations. After a few days, I realized finance did not blend well with my expectations and through the established professional networks; I was able to get a transfer, and later I joined strategy department. In the new department, I was involved in analyzing data from the company’s subsidiaries and developing simple models for forecasts. However, since my major interest was an investment, I asked for a transfer to strategy department.

  1. Reality Stage

The internship experience helped me to familiarize with the real business world, and I learned that theories profoundly contradict with the practical experiences. Most of the things I’ve learned in a class were not applicable in the two departments that I was attached, but only helped me in critical thinking. Though I study business and economics, in organizations, you only operate in one department, and the two arts affect the interpretation of financial report differently. I also learned the business world had evolved thanks to technology, and most art courses will be obsolete in the future due to the use of digital technology in almost every aspect of business interactions. The real market demands more of computer innovations, and uses compared to manual input.

  1. Hindsight Stage

I am now determined to pursue computer-related courses after the internship experience. I realized that I didn’t know much about what goes on in the real business world, and though the experience fell short of my expectations, I am motivated to pursue my degree and diversify to more technological units that are more needed in the emerging markets.

The Best and the Worst of Business Experience

Of the three experiences, discovery stage was my best. Discovering new things and ways of doing things was interesting and exciting. The fact that most of what I did during the internship did not relate to the theories learned in class made it all the more alluring. Finance, strategy, and investment are the most demanded departments in organizations since the future of an organization depends on the decisions made from the three sectors. I was also involved in extensive research to determine the relationship between my capabilities and the demands of the financial market so that I would choose the department that maximized my skills. Being involved in the different sectors of the finance department helped my discovery process and facing the reality about my expectations and what the market expected from me. Interactions with the staff as well as the numerous tasks I did in the assigned departments made the whole internship experience worthwhile.

Reality stage was my worst business experience since it lowered my morale, as my expectations were not met. Though it shaped my aspirations and made me come to terms with the reality, it made me unsure of what I wanted in life and almost made me feel like the course I am taking is a waste of time. However, I believe that facing the reality compelled me to think beyond the box and strategize on my career aspirations in such a way that they fitted with the business world.

Business Experience with Regards to my Values, Skills, and Knowledge

From the business experience, I was able to determine my abilities and develop new ones. My analytical and interpersonal skills influenced the results of the tasks that I did during the internship. I realized that I’m well-equipped with interpersonal skills since through them, I was able to liaise with the different workers and manage to complete the tasks effectively. The theoretical skills attained from class were useful in interpreting the results obtained from the company’s financial statements and for developing forecasts. However, I realized that I had little knowledge about the financial market and the systems used by investors and companies to calculate risks evaluate performance, and different price assets. For instance, I learned about Bloomberg Terminal, which is used by financial analysts evaluate different kinds of financial data. Organizations and emerging markets are quickly adapting to the digital technology, thus the computer skills are very essential for a person in getting employment. I realized that I need to develop my computer skills, and also engage myself with computer models used to analyze financial data so as to get acquainted with advanced analytical knowledge and skills.

Internship Experience versus Expectations

I learned different business and life skills from the internship experience. I was able to interact with different workers and managers from the organization. Engagement with the workers increased my confidence levels and improved my interpersonal skills. I was also given the opportunity to make decisions and give input to some of the strategies that the company was designing. Though it was my first practical experience in the business, I managed to perform all the assigned tasks and my contribution to the organization was notable.

When joining the firm, I thought that I knew a lot of stuff that most people didn’t know, but the reverse was true. I realized that there are so many experts in the business with regards to finance, and it’s only those with diverse and exceptional skills that made it. I thought that theoretical knowledge correlated with the practical knowledge and skills, but during the internship, I realized that one had to use real data from the market to develop financial models and also analyze financial statements. Theoretical knowledge was just a means to get to business, but not the end. I didn’t expect to find the use of computers as a paramount need in businesses, but computer knowledge and skills are now the backbone of every business and it’s the most sought after.

My Strengths and Weaknesses

Just as analysts use the SWOT model to analyze the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats faced by an organization, the contradiction between the reality and my expectations before the internship were exposed. My course, business, and economics stand out as one of my major strengths since it gave me the opportunity to interact with different sectors of the financial world, and helped me discover myself. I realized that I have excellent interpersonal skills that were of much help when I sought for a departmental transfer. Additionally, I have proficient analytical skills which were of much use when I was given the task of analyzing data from the company’s subsidiaries, and I managed to give satisfactory results. Confidence, team working skills, and ability to multitask are also some of my strengths which are essential for practice in the business environment.

Most of my weaknesses are technical. I realized that the business has evolved, and that it requires computer skills for automatic analysis. Analysts used to refer to historical data and predict the future or develop strategies using their learned experience, but since the emergence of digital technology, a lot of business activities are carried out using computer technology since they are highly effective. Thus, there is a need for me to take up computer science to solidify my business degree so as to be competitive in the market. From the experience, I also learned that I am short of the expectations of the business world, thus I need to go for more internship to be able to better understand the business world.

The fact that I did not know what I wanted with my career, making me hop from one department to another, is another weakness that I need to take care of. To stand out, I need to concentrate on one line of business so that I can be able to maximize my capabilities. Now that I know I need extra skills in computer, I intend to take a computer science course, because the practical business world is being driven by technological innovations. For example, Bloomberg Terminal was designed by computer experts and also requires skills in computer technology for one to get authentic information.

Business Reflections Impact on the Future

  1. If I attend another internship engagement, I will be clear on the department I want to be assigned to. Not being clear on what I need from the internship was confusing though it was a discovery process. Now that I know what I want, which lies on investment and computer science, I will be able to give the two my best and learn aspects that are specific to the courses which will help me to attain expert knowledge and experience.
  2. I will be more engaging with the supervisors and the general workforce to ensure that my contribution to the organization is impactful. Interacting with staff assists in building interpersonal skills that are needed in teamwork as well as for networking purposes. Companies that are leaders in their industry utilize team working skills for through their innovations and productivity are capitalized.
  3. When I learn a skill in class, I will try to make it as practical as possible, even if I will do it in a casual manner. For instance, I can engage my friends to interpret financial reports of firms belonging in the same industry and have each person predict results of which we will check on their website after they have been posted. Moreover, I will make use of my personal computer to learn different computer applications, such as PowerPoint, Spreadsheet, Excel, and Microsoft access, which are essential for financial and investment managers.
  4. Lastly, I will revise theoretical models such as capital budgeting and Capital Asset Financing models, and use them to study financial results from different companies and understand markets and organizational culture better.

Relationship between my Business Experience and Theoretical Models

There are many theoretical models that were applied in the finance and strategy departments that I worked in. For instance, capital budgeting was used by the strategy managers to design and choose projects that were viable. During my internship period, the managers responsible for disposal of assets would use capital project theory to calculate the value of an asset with relation to its historical price. The net present value was the most applicable method, and the values obtained determined the amount the asset would be disposed at. Another model that was applicable in the finance department was the Capital Asset Pricing model, and the analysts used it to compare the performance of the company’s stock with historical results, and also with competitor’s.

The Balance Sheet model was used in the finance department to simplify data entry and copy pasting, where periodical changes were in a new excel document instead of creating a new one. Financial Ratio Analysis is another model that was used in the business. For instance, ratio analysis was used to calculate gross profit margin, current ratio, book value per share, and return on assets among other ratios. These ratios were used by the company to evaluate the performance of the firm and for management to make decisions regarding the offered products and services.

Conclusion

The internship engagement was a stepping stone for me, since it helped me interact with the practical business environment and discover my strengths and weaknesses. The experience helped me shape my aspirations and developed my innate skills for present and future use. I believe that the whole process of business experience was actualized in that I was able to experience the discovery, reality, and hindsight stages as far as theory and practice course is concerned. I will build on my strengths and improvise on my weaknesses to be able to increase in innovation and analytical knowledge which are essential in today’s business world.

Having interacted with the learned theories on a practical basis, I was able to relate my capabilities. As far as the internship is concerned, I am confident that I will be able to contribute to the emerging business environment in a more satisfying manner, since I will now focus on individual aspects of the market instead of hopping from one department to another. Diversifying my skills to incorporate computer skills will also facilitate the development of my future career. Though the real business world is somewhat different from the theoretical, having knowledge of the two is paramount in achieving success.

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