This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.
This entry is by Rajan Patel, COL ’18
As soon as I walked out of the terminal into the dry Arizona heat, I began to recall my childhood summers filled with swimming and lake visits. However, my plans for this summer wouldn’t have much space for lounging by the pool. Instead, I was about to begin a fantastic learning experience by working in the finance industry.
As an Economics major in the College of Arts & Sciences, I have had less exposure to the world of finance and accounting than my Wharton peers. Despite this, I’ve managed to pick up some technical skills through self-study, which has taught me textbook approaches to accounting and corporate finance. While self-study taught me some of the basics, it gave me little exposure to how these topics and skills were utilized in the real world, leading me to search for internship opportunities in banking. For this summer, I was fortunate enough to land a position at a boutique investment bank which promised to give me the same level of responsibility as a full time analyst at a major Wall Street firm. It wasn’t until I started that I realized the truth behind this claim.
My first week taught me to learn quickly, as I was immediately thrown into doing market research on the probiotic industry for a sell-side M&A deal of a major probiotic manufacturer. Using my Penn Economics background, I was able to create Power-Point presentations on market drivers, macro and micro trends, and industry breakdowns to be used in a pitch-book to potential investors. With guidance from the partners of the firm, I was also taught how to create market projection charts and revenue breakdowns, building my Excel skills and giving me an idea of how to visually represent financial data.
As the summer progressed, I was able to work on various stages of multiple M&A deals. Just like full-time analysts in big name banks, I was taught how to build out potential buyer lists, evaluate letters of intent, and was even given control of sections of confidential information memorandums as the deals progressed. My self-taught technical skills came into use as well, as I was tasked with consolidating balance sheets and income statements, creating financial summaries for numerous companies, and working on a leveraged buyout model. I attended meetings and calls with clients, and participated in discussions concerning asset purchase agreements, terms of engagement, and company valuations. I was even tasked with doing transaction and company screenings with S&P’s Capital IQ, creating a monthly M&A transaction newsletter for clients from scratch.
To most, much of my summer experience would seem lackluster or bland. However, as an upcoming junior student looking to break into the finance industry, I believe there was no better place to spend my summer as an intern. In total, I was given the opportunity to work on deals with a total transaction value upwards of $170 million, and each one gave me the opportunity to research and learn about an industry that I knew nothing about prior to my experience. On top of all this, I was able to communicate and get advice from everyone in the firm, from the senior analysts to the managing directors. Doing so didn’t just build my connections in the industry; it gave me insight on how to navigate my career path from people who had done it before, and had done it successfully. By exposing me to the industry through application and hands-on learning, this experience has prepared me to pursue positions at larger name banks. I couldn’t have asked for a more fulfilling and productive summer!