It was almost 9 PM. As I packed my stuff and got ready to leave the office, I still saw a few people, both managers and analysts, conscientiously working on their projects. I have heard that at least five people can be found in the office at 11 PM every night. This is not uncommon in the finance industry, as some of you might have heard about the notorious hours of an investment bankers, who would typically not leave the office before midnight.
It was not until this internship that I got to experience the long hours of a typical office job. My work usually starts at 8:30 AM and lasts until 7-9 PM. I remembered that my first week at VinaCapital was pretty tiresome and exhausting as I was not used to the working hours and my tasks mainly involved putting numbers in financial models. It was funny how sitting at one place for an entire day could make me feel so tired that I would rather skip dinner and go straight to bed after I get off work.
As the weeks went by, I started getting used to the long hours. My work becomes more difficult as I got involved in bigger investment projects. I was assigned with new and challenging tasks, which makes me feel very excited and absorbed in my work. Every other day, I would get exposed to a different company or a different industry. I learned different financial models and tried building some on my own. Last week was my first time using Bloomberg Terminal and I am very curious and surprised at all the functions I could perform with it. I also got to practice tools like Excel when dealing with a huge number of data. One time, I spend four days working on a data set of revenues from more than a thousand retailing stores, just using Pivot table function in Excel.
The long hours were pretty discouraging but I believe that as long as I still find excitement in my work, I would not mind staying late.
Being the only intern in the research team means that I don’t have to share the work with any other intern but at the same time, every team member wants my help. The research team has one of the busiest schedules of the whole company. In a month, an analyst at my team is expected to make at least 2 investment proposals, and present them during our team meeting every Monday. We have a pretty small team, so each analyst covers 1-2 sectors, including construction, real estate, food & beverage, banking and pharmaceuticals. I mostly help the analysts with preparing the financial models for valuation, writing macro reports and creating the slides.
During my first week when I was still unfamiliar with the work and the analysts in my team, there were times when I had nothing to do for a whole morning. I figured that since the analysts in my team are so busy, there must be some tasks that they might need my help. So every morning when I came to work, I would message the analysts to tell them that I am available if they need help with anything. As a result, tasks started pouring in like crazy. At once, I was receiving tasks for four different proposals, which made me a little bit overwhelmed. Unfortunately, I was not able to finish a task for one analyst on time and let her down. I figured that because of taking on too much work, I could risk not finishing every task on time or delivering the best quality. Moreover, focusing on getting the work done made me forget to reflect on each task and improve my performance. Therefore, I decided to switch my strategy a little bit by only asking for more work when I have already finished the task that I was working on. I also try to be consistent with the projects instead of switching around between different proposals. Since then, I have ensure a better quality of my work and have a stronger understanding of the tasks that I did. I am still testing different approach to performing the tasks at work but I will always strive to find the most efficient way and make the most out of this internship!
Lately I have been assisting an analyst who covers the steel industry of Vietnam so I was able to walk through the steps of proposing an investment idea at VinaCapital. Firstly, we need to conduct macro research on the economy and the steel industry to understand whether investing in this industry is a wise decision with the current economic environment. One difficulty that many people face when doing research on topics related to Vietnam is a lack of public information. Back in the U.S., I did not have too much trouble doing research since most information and data are published online and I could always rely on the databases at Dickinson Library. In Vietnam, however, information can mostly be found through news and articles while official reports are only available through expensive subscriptions or in circulation of companies in related fields. After conducting the macro research, we can identify some key players in the field and create a pool of potential companies for further study. In this step, setting up private meetings with officials from these companies is very important in order to gain more knowledge. Last Monday, I got the chance to attend an analyst meeting that was held by the Vietnamese Steel Association and a leading company in the steel industry. The talk offered a great opportunity for analysts to ask in-depth questions and listen to insights from the industry experts. After collecting all the necessary information about the companies, we put them in financial models to determine the companies’ valuation and determine whether any fits our company fund’s portfolio. Then we summarize our findings into a presentation and present the proposal every Monday during our team’s meeting. The process sounds pretty well-structured and clear but it actually varies a lot depending on the company or the industry being covered. I know one analyst in my team who was working on an agriculture company had to make a trip to the company site in the countryside to visit its farm and observe the packaging process. The key point is that an analyst has to truly understand the company he/she is pitching, not just by the numbers, but by every aspect that involves the company. I feel very fortunate to work as a research analyst where I have the chance to gain in-depth understanding about a wide range of industries covered by my team.
It has been almost three weeks since I moved to Ho Chi Minh City and started my internship at VinaCapital. I have experienced and learned so much since my first day here but never actually got the chance to reflect upon my journey so far until this blog.
My first real day in Ho Chi Minh City is also the day I started my internship. I share the rental building with another intern at VinaCapital so every morning we would catch a cab to the company together. The building where we work at is located on a huge boulevard in the center of the city. Our office is on the 17th floor, with the view overlooking the boulevard featured in the picture below.
VinaCapital is an investment management and real estate development firm with a diversified portfolio in listed and private equities, real estate and bonds. The company currently manages three closed-end funds trading on the AIM Market of the London Stock Exchange. It was one of my proudest achievements to secure an internship at the firm as it would push me forward in my career aspiration in finance.
My first impression when I got a tour around the office is the small size of this company. There are around 70 people in the firm and all employees are close and know of each other. Even the news of an incoming intern like me spread around the office as I met and introduced myself to the employees. As soon as I settled down in my spot at my team’s cubicles, an analyst sitting next to me, who is currently my direct mentor, assigned me with my very first task: an industries research report. I was very excited and got down to work immediately. An obstacle I have during my first weeks here is a lack of familiarity with Vietnam’s market as well as Vietnamese technical finance language. However, I try to learn and familiarize myself with some independent research as well as ask for help from my team members. I was very grateful at everyone’s willingness to help me, even though they’re already overwhelmed with work. Most of the time I try to work on my own first. As I work my way through the tasks, I was very excited to connect and translate between what I have learnt at Dickinson and the real-life projects in Vietnam. The expected similarity between materials on class and the real-world application better emphasize and strengthen my knowledge and skills.
The team that I work in is called Idea Generation, whose main purpose is conducting market research to find investment ideas for other functions in the company. I am very excited at the broad range of subjects that I get exposed to because of working in this team and look forward to more new experiences in near future!
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