I spent last summer working in New York City, the financial capital of the world. I was employed by Kohlberg Kravis and Roberts (KKR), one of the world’s most successful financial firms. As a member of the finance team I was responsible for generating financial reports, proof reading capital calls, and assisting in the quarterly closure of KKR vehicles encompassed in KKR’s public filings. My office was located at 9 West 57th Street. This is one of the most famous addresses in the financial world. The directory for this building is a who’s who of successful international firms. Because KKR is such a prestigious firm, they had a very strict dress code. I was required to wear a suit everyday. Prior to last summer I did not own a single suit. Therefore, a significant portion of my STEP money was used to acquire a professional wardrobe. I was able to purchase four suits, several dress shirts, socks, ties, and other various items. The rest of my STEP dollars were used to cover the costs that accompany living in a big city.
The two months I spent at KKR, rapidly accelerated my professional development. During my internship I had my own meeting schedule, was responsible for generating financial records that actually impacted the firm, and completed other tasks that made a tangible impact. In addition to improving my leadership skills and understanding of the financial industry, my internship made me more self-reliant. I had to learn how to survive and navigate in one of the worlds largest cities all by myself. This experience made me much more confident and allowed me to develop some of the skills I will need to use on a regular basis during my life after OSU.
I learned a tremendous amount during my stint at KKR. Prior to starting my internship I had a very loose grasp of general financial principles and models. However, upon completion of my internship, I could clearly articulate the difference between a Limited Partner, a General Partner, and other components of a standard deal structure chart. Additionally, I learned the fundamental aspects of leveraged buyouts, basic mergers and acquisitions, how the stock market actually operates, the main differences between public and private businesses and countless other financial principles. However, I believe the most important thing I learned had nothing to do with financial principles. Prior to my internship, the closest I came to working in a formal office environment was watching The Office. During my two months at KKR, I learned how to properly conduct myself in an office environment. Working in very close proximity to other employees taught me the importance of limiting personal conversations in the office and keeping the volume of said conversations to a minimum. Additionally, I discovered the amount of communication and collaboration required to make a firm like KKR so successful.
My internship showed me how important it is to strive for academic excellence. I was able to participate in KKR’s internship program because of my high GPA and campus involvement. The experience taught me what great opportunities can come as a direct result of academic success. Additionally, being around top professionals on a daily basis showed me how much I still do not know. My coworkers were all experts in the financial industry. In order to attain their level of success I must continue to apply myself and strive for academic excellence because a superior intellect is the fastest way to get ahead in the financial world.
Although I loved every second of my summer internship, the most impactful experience had to be the quarterly closure meeting on July 2nd. KKR closes the financial vehicles in their public filings on a quarterly basis. Therefore, June 31st marks the end of quarter 2. I spent the entire month of June preparing for this closure. Finally, on June 31st I turned in all of the financial reports, files, and binders I had been working for the past month. On July 2nd I was invited to sit in on the Quarterly Closure Meeting. As I walked into the massive boardroom I was amazed at what I saw. The CEO, CFO, and other KKR managing partners were all seated around a huge table. Large TV monitors that depicted a live feed of every other KKR boardroom around the world hung on every wall. The next two hours flew by as I was mesmerized by the executives’ discussions and projections for quarter three.
I was very excited when I realized I could actually understand what was being said during the quarterly closure meeting. Before my internship the conversations I was taking part in during the meeting would have sounded like a foreign language. Additionally, I could quickly see how the work I had been doing during the month of June made a tangible impact on the firm. It was excited to know that I had not been doing busy work for the past month.
My internship also profoundly effected my personal goals. I quickly realized the importance of a work life balance while in New York City. Although my coworkers were extremely successful, many of them were consumed by their work. They would often work six to seven days a week and the average work day was at least ten hours. It is my goal to become a highly successful executive while still having plenty of time for friends and family.
My time at KKR made me realize the type of lifestyle one can have if they work hard. Although the work may be tedious and the hours long, the financial security a career in finance can provide is invaluable to me. It is my life goal to travel and experience as many new cultures as possible. I believe working at a firm like KKR can provide me with the financial resources necessary to accomplish this goal.