For my STEP project, I chose to intern at an investment bank just north of Columbus called Ross Sinclair & Associates. Here I interned on a 5 person team underwriting and issuing municipal debt to schools and municipalities across Ohio and West Virginia. I spent the summer building financial models and creating marketing materials, such as pitch books, for my two bosses.
My view of myself changed the most drastically while completing my project. All of college everyone talks about the “real world” and what it is like to be an adult in the workforce. As a result, I expected the transition to be dramatic. I did not expect that overnight I would just move into my own apartment and be working full time, but it really was that quick. With minimal preparation, all of a sudden I had become an adult in the workforce faced with the mundane chores that come with it. My view of the world changed a lot, I came to appreciate what I have more, as well as what the future truly holds.
One of the biggest transitions I made this summer was becoming financially independent. While I have always worried about money since I am funding the majority of my education, it’s different when you have routine expenses. My philosophy has been as simple as try your hardest not to spend anything unless it’s necessary. Living in a dorm and eating off a meal plan meant there were very little necessities that were not already covered. Living alone in an apartment where I had to cook for myself was the complete opposite. If I did not spend money that would mean I would not have wifi or food for the week. When going through STEP’s financial coaching component, I thought nothing applied to me. Unfortunately, I was wrong and it was very important to create a detailed budget. However, I was a quick learner to the world of coupons and was able to make the large step pretty seamlessly.
A large part of my responsibilities over the summer where creating pitch books and running financial models. This changed my view on the corporate world because I realized how many people actually had to be involved and how many moving parts there truly were. Whenever one works with a company, it seems like its just a system of inputs and outputs. Nobody thinks about the actual processes that make things happen. In my previous roles as an intern, I had worked on simple projects. Data entry never allowed me to add much value to my work and prevented me from seeing the big picture. When I worked on pitch books, many times I would only have one or two people review my work. After my work was signed off on, it would quickly be put in front of clients. All of a sudden I had a pretty large impact on Ross Sinclaire’s day to day operations. While there was a lot of pressure, it was not anything impossible. This experience has definitely caused me to empathize more with professionals I talk to when doing business or networking. I find it kind of fun to imagine what their day to day must be like especially comparable to mine.
Another large part of my responsibilities were client interactions. In high school I always wondered when people began to hold themselves to a standard of professionalism. While I think I have always known how to behave around certain people, in school when I was around my friends I was never distinctly poised. I also have thought that my speaking skills were not the best. While client interaction at RSA started slow, I definitely had to pick it up quick. At my job I needed to conduct myself professionally at all times, over email, on the phone, or in person. Being immersed in it helped me to build those skills and set a standard. It was really interesting when I actually got to meet with our legal counsel downtown. Once again, while there was always pressure when talking to clients it was never an insurmountable amount and really helped me learn and get better at my communication skills.
All of these changes are very significant and valuable to my life. I grew up expecting that one day I would have a job and a family. Through STEP I got to spend the whole summer preparing for that part of my life whenever it comes. I learned countless new skills that I had never even considered I would have to learn when I got older. I also gained a very strong new facet to my resume and made many important connections while employed. All in all, I completed my project as a much older and more well prepared adult. I am very satisfied with my summer and very thankful for the role STEP played in making it possible.