STEP Internship Reflection

My STEP Signature Project included working at an asset management firm in downtown Cincinnati during the summer of 2017. I worked as an intern full-time as a part of the investment team. My contributions included three main projects: 1) research project on historic U.S. recession trends , 2) research Socially Responsible Investing and how our group can utilize this new asset class going forward, and 3) review client asset allocations and determine if they are within the Investment Policy Statement and Risk Tolerance Profile ranges.

My internship was an eye-opener into the investment management industry. I reaffirmed my interest in investments when working for this firm. I knew I enjoyed reading and learning about the financial markets daily, but I thought maybe I’d lose interest. I didn’t, and my interest expanded. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of how much of my day I would get to spend learning versus working on busy work. It turns out I was able to grow so much because I was able to ask an endless amount of questions to my bosses. There were times where I would stay after and talk to my co-workers asking them for their opinions on certain companies, trends, or sectors.

One of my bosses allowed me to come by his desk at four in the afternoon each day. I would usually come to him with a few things I wanted to ask him and this would typically turn into a full hour conversation. Speaking with him allowed me to develop a contrarian, value-oriented investment approach. He wouldn’t get caught up in the growth firms with extreme valuations and I appreciated his view because it was a breath of fresh air in the industry.

One key learning point of my experience was when I was asked to make fundamental, valuation, and technical calls on the 30 or so holdings in one of our strategies. This wasn’t brand new to me, but doing the research and coming up with the thesis for the companies on my own was a new challenge. I found that I often agreed with the group on many of the opinions, but my views differed a few times and that was when I really learned the most. For example, I said that I found the valuation of a certain company to be reasonable due to it’s growth rate, 1 of my bosses did agree, but the others in the room did not agree. This was tough for me to try to explain myself, but I did my best and made the most of the opportunity to speak up in front of the group. This was a nerve-wracking experience at first, but I’m glad I did it and it will be well worth it in the long run!

This change was important because I was able to open myself up in a professional environment and got comfortable with asking questions to adults who are my older than I am. My professionalism was greatly enhanced because of this summer opportunity. I was able to meet many new people and present in front of the managing directors. The skills I gained this summer will allow me to be very employable by the time I start looking for a full-time job. Some of the key takeaways from this summer skills-wise would be: interview capability, decision-making ability, presentation skills, networking skills, technical financial skills, computer skills, office skills, and professional dress. Without these skills, it would be tough to find employment, but that was the reason I sought out an internship for this summer and made sure it was with the right group of professionals.

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