Hey everyone, glad to finally have time to post my first blog (which is actually backdated for the dates May 21-23.)
Wednesday (Philly Cheesesteak)
12:30 PM: Left Columbus promptly after taking an early 721 quiz. I have orientation for my internship this weekend even though I’m still in school; I’ll be flying up for the weekend and coming back to finish finals. Talk about hectic, thankfully business professors are generally tolerant to prioritizing internship duties and are flexible with the academic side. I arrived at PHL around 4 PM, had to take a “people mover” (a bus the size of the plane) to get from our landing site to the terminal due, of which took almost as long as the flight from CVG. I’m going to try to avoid PHL in the future, if possible.
After landing, I went to the meeting spot (Auntie Anne’s), which supposedly the founder is from Lancaster, PA, the city my internship is in this summer. I met with a few of the interns while we waited for the recruiter to arrive; he was flying in from Denver. One of the interns was from Point Loma out on the West Coast and the other intern was a graduate student at Missouri State. Both were interning in the Dominican Republic this summer.
6:00 PM: We were all hungry so after the recruiter arrived we went downtown to try some philly cheesesteak. I’ve never had an authentic philly before, so I was quite excited. Shortly before arriving he warned us about the ordering etiquette. To order a philly with cheese say, “Wiz wit.” For those of you wondering, it really is wiz cheese, sort of like the kind you put on crackers. The recruiter took us to Tony Luke’s, http://www.tonylukes.com/. Nobody deviated from the philly, except I chose to try it with sharp cheddar.
9:00 PM: After dinner we were taken to our housing for the summer, which the firm provides. I will be staying at an international house and my roommate is from Ghana. There are students here from most major countries, and I am excited to meet them all, however am exhausted from travelling.
Thursday (a.k.a. tagging HR with a wiffle ball)
7:30 AM: Woke up early this morning for the short commute to the HOPE office, they call it CSU (Central something… something… I don’t quite remember). Once we get to the office we are warmly greeted by the Lancaster employees, most of which are quite young, being just recent graduates. I’m already starting to feel the uniqueness of the culture I felt during my phone interview. Following greetings, each of the interns stand up and tell the office how they heard about hope and a little about their background. The interns seem to be from all over the country. There are sixteen of us, ten that are interning at CSU, and the other six out of the country at the MFIs (Microfinance institutions). Our intern class is quite diverse from traditional business majors to English majors. There are also several MBA students and an English graduate student.
9:30 AM: After introductions we are introduced to the organization chart of the firm. HR goes to draw a rough sketch of the org chart on the white board and interestingly enough he draws the chart upside down. Usually org charts start with the most important person on the top, but he on purposely drew it with the most important people at the bottom as a symbolization of a serving organization in which structure is only a formality. Immediately following, the President of HOPE, Peter Greer shares the mission of the firm. He graduated from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and has spent much time in the field with missions in microfinance. He explains our firm is much different from other MFIs in such that we are driven by faith based motivation and not simply a social impact. He depicts our strategic model as a mountain with spiritual integration on the left side and microfinance on the other side. Lean too much towards one bearing and the structure of the firm fails, thus there is a delicate balance of how our business is done.
11:15 AM: Next, the director of finance (much like a CFO), goes into detail of how microfinancing actually works. I won’t go into much detail, as I’ve already provided basic resources if you are interested in learning more about the industry which can explain it much better than I. However, I will leave you with several key takeaways from his presentation.
Learning Point #1:
- Third world countries lack the financial landscape that we take for granted
- People cannot save money, and are often charged upwards of 30% to save
- Say you want to save $100, you have to pay the bank $30 of that, whereas we in the developed world are paid interest to save!
- Interest rates on loans are upwards of 100% often even reaching 1000%
- Average interest rate of credit cards are around 15-20%
- Microfinance can be summed up as starting a bank in a third world country
- Requires: Head of a Banker, Heart of a Pastor, Soul of a Development Worker
1:30 PM: The new director of development shared her experience abroad in the Democratic Republic of Congo and how she experienced first hand the operations of HOPE. Following that she described how she used her field work to directly translate the need for fundraising for the firm and how important it was to share what we were doing with our families and friends.
3:15 PM: The director of marketing shares his experience in the consumer retail industry and how it translated to finding a career at HOPE. He then went on to describe HOPE’s marketing strategy and several initiatives that were taking place over the summer in which we would be able to get involved in.
(Shamless plug, 1.)Write encouraging words or draw a picture on a friend or your hand and take a picture 2.) Upload picture to – hopehandsup.shutterfly.com 3.) HOPE International receives $5 for every picture uploaded)
4:45 PM: HOPE employees gather interns together to encourage us and pray for the summer. I’m fascinated at how integrated faith is in this firm, even though it is a faith based organization… I never thought it would be integrated this quickly… in our orientation! I’m very excited to see how else spiritual integration comes into our daily work life.
5:15 PM: The director of marketing invites all of HOPE to his house for dinner. Lasagna and ice cream, anyone? You may be wondering why I subtitled the orientation blog as tagging HR with a wiffle ball… Well, it comes into play shortly after dinner where several of the interns organize a casual wiffle ball game. About midway through the fourth inning or so, the HR representative decided to go for the extra base. I pegged him with a wiffle ball right in the shin. I hope I don’t get fired! Turns out, he got me back in the next few innings when I overran a base, I wasn’t fired… at least not yet.
Friday (Until we meet again…)
7:30 AM: Head to HOPE for second day of orientation. Most of the interns are exhausted from staying up late last night eating ice cream and getting to know one another. There were some pretty deep conversations about social business the previous nights and several conversations lasted quite late.
8:30 AM: The founder of HOPE, speaks on how he started the firm and the difficulties of running a for profit alongside a non profit. He speaks about stewardship and how important it is to live the culture of the firm. He uses the example of buying a new car and not purchasing the upgrade for power windows because it could be several new microloans. (Visit www.hopeinternational.org to find out more about how HOPE began). I also found out Jeff plays tennis, and for those of you that don’t know I have an ardent passion for playing tennis. I may just have to challenge him to a match before the summer is over.
9:30 AM: HR goes through administrative information such as rules and regulations, expectations for the summer, and legal issues. For those of you taking Business Law (Fin 510), you will learn about employment law… or contracts.
12:00 PM: Sneak out of orientation to have lunch with my supervisor. Well, technically not sneak, but I think I was the only intern to do this off the bat. I’ve already talked with my supervisor several times via interview and through email so we already know each other fairly well. We catch up a little about how things are going then get down to business. He takes me to Five Guys, awesome burgers… but still not as good as In N Out. He preps me on what projects are going on at the office, and what specifically the finance team is doing. We go over my summer project pipeline which seems to have quite a bit for ten weeks, which makes me excited. He expects me to roll up my sleeves given my experience. I’m a bit nervous, but up for the challenge. I’ll highlight some of the major projects I’ll be working on this summer: consolidation of several of the entities HOPE owns for the year end audit (which is the second week of my internship, so I have a one week project deadline… yikes), mapping the process of cash flows through the firm, assessing the efficiencies of the cash flows, and consolidating four of the MFIs. Looks like it is going to be a busy summer!
Learning Point #2: Networking, as I’ve previously stated is important. It shows you care and gets you a head start on the work you will be doing. Not to mention it helps build a better relationship with your coworkers which in the long run can only help your work relationship.
1:00 PM: After lunch, the Director of Finance speaks more about how microfinance works adding onto the previous day’s “lecture.” He goes into more detail of how loans are structured and the business plan of HOPE. I’m not sure what I can and cannot talk about yet, so I’m going to save it hopefully for later blogs, once I do find out.
3:00 PM: Full time employees share their internship experience and key takeaways for a successful summer. Take initiative, network to learn more than what your job entails, go to your supervisor when needed, and lastly have fun.
5:00 PM: Cookout at one of the past intern’s house. The culture is extremely friendly and everyone seems to truly want to develop relationships with the interns. Not to mention tons of free food? We played soccer, corn hole, and football then shared several “ice breaker” stories such as the most embarrassing date, which I thought was hilarious.
11:00 PM: Leave, exhausted back to the house to pack up. Going back to OSU tomorrow to finish up classes and take finals. The majority of interns are staying as they are on semester systems. In addition, the international interns are leaving tomorrow for the country they are interning in. We all say our goodbyes and promise to skype.
Other resources: www.chalmers.org