My Internship Experience

Ahmed Satti
Class of 2007 BA

“Small boy, come and photocopy this document for me,” was one of the orders I was anticipating to hear on a daily basis during my internship. My expectations were totally off. I was given crucial and time sensitive assignments that required me to stay in the office till about 9pm on some days.

It was almost the end of June and I still did not have an internship lined up. I knew I should have applied to more companies! All I needed was one interview to prove myself worthy. Just as I was about to give up on my search, I received THAT phone call early one Monday morning. “This is Akweley from Strategic African Securities and we would like you to come in for an interview on Wednesday.” I had been practicing for possible interview questions for weeks so two days later I walked into the SAS office with so much confidence that I had to remind myself to not seem arrogant. The interview went well and I was offered the job a few days later.

Strategic African Securities (SAS) is a small investment banking firm and just as I had requested in my cover letter, I was assigned to the Asset Management Department. The first day on the job consisted of a brief orientation comprised of meeting employees and a tour of the premises. The first few hours at the job were used familiarizing myself with the computer system, filing and photocopying, and I remember hoping that the job would become more challenging. It did!!

After lunch that day my boss called me into his office for a meeting. “Ahmed, we want to manage a company’s ¢500 million provident fund, type up a proposal for that and let me have it by tomorrow.” The sentence sounded so sweet to me and at that moment I knew that SAS was going to provide me with the challenging environment I had been yearning all summer. From that day, my routine consisted of typing letters to clients, engineering proposals and presentations and processing client applications for the liquidation of their investments.

After about two weeks on the job I started getting inquisitive about the day to day functions of the other departments so I started passing by Brokerage and Research with questions. My curiosity led me to volunteer myself as a helping hand and so I began doing jobs for the other departments when things were moving slower at Asset Management. After familiarizing myself with all of the company’s investment products, I began talking to clients and educating them on how the products worked. Although talking to clients was always a pleasant experience it became difficult and confrontational when a share price fell and I had to explain why the client lost money. I found out that in the business of handling other peoples’ money diligence and patience are two essential attributes to possess.

The highlight of the internship was a visit to the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) where I had the opportunity to observe a trading session. Earlier in the year I visited the GSE as part of a school trip but this experience was different. This time around I had the opportunity of being on the trading floor of the Exchange and directly interacting with some stock brokers. I was especially excited to witness, first hand, a share price increase and the commotion that followed. When an equity price increases brokers immediately make on the spot analyses of its new value and have to make changes to their strategies. Some brokers even have to go as far as making phone calls to valued clients to find out if they are interested in buying or selling the equity.

During the last week of my internship, another intern and I decided that we wanted to go out with a “bang” and so we organized a presentation for our co-workers. We designated the last day of our internship for the presentation and made invitations which we sent out through e-mail. The presentation consisted of three parts; our expectations coming into the internship, what we learnt and suggestions we had for the company. I was extremely enthusiastic at the opportunity to finally show off all I had absorbed in two months. I explained to my coworkers how I was impressed at SAS’s level of professionalism and how I was treated like a regular employee and not some “small boy”. Next, I explained to them how I learnt about efficiently saving my money to make maximum gains and how to more closely analyze equities to make the right purchase at the right time. The most interesting lesson I learnt required me to undertake some research to find out if equities do better than treasury bills in the long run. It took me about two days to garner all the information I needed but at the end, the hypothesis proved to be right. Finally I suggested to SAS that they focus on customer service and marketing because I found out, whilst doing research, that there was a large market of potential investors and that SAS only had a small share of the current mutual fund market. Later on that day a farewell party was organized for us.

My summer internship experience definitely exceeded my expectations as everyday provided me with a new challenge. I received some important lessons, not only on the financial sector but also on non-academic issues. My interest in investment banking was solidified and now I am 100% sure of what I want to do in the future.