Back when I was a freshman in college, my knowledge of investment banking was limited. My knowledge at the time extended only to the coverage I read in the “Business” section of the news, or the world depicted in movies such as 1987’s Wall Street. Although I was initially unsure of what to expect on the first day, I was glad to find just how welcoming and willing to help people in SDCF were, and how easily I was able to start picking up on various methods of the valuation and sell-side process. The culture of SDCF definitely helped with any learning curve I faced: the corporate finance department is friendly, collaborative and tight-knit. The people are smart, driven and talented. Everyone is always willing to answer a question, elucidate a financial term, help me with printer troubles (especially in the first week!), or give me great ideas for brunch in Pittsburgh. One morning, I walked into my cubicle to find a special copy of the Pittsburgh magazine, gifted by my supervisor, which extensively detailed A-Z what to do and eat in Pittsburgh. Gestures such as this made me feel immediately at home in this new city and office.
The knowledge I’ve gained about financial processes has enriched many aspects of my life, allowing me to approach the news with more experienced eyes. Having been involved in the sell-side process and having finished a valuation for a client, I can now go beyond reading passively about mergers and acquisitions, and truly understand the valuation process that occurs before and the numbers behind the transactions I read about. Furthermore, because I am not confined to any one market sector and can help out in multiple projects, I’ve been fortunate enough to learn about the transaction histories and characteristics of industries as diverse as real estate, apparel, sports, and health care. From working on a variety of assignments, I’ve accrued a valuable storage of Excel tips and tricks and gained a grasp on finance concepts that before were only acronyms to me. If you asked the Sue from a year ago what “WACC” was, she would have misheard you and thought you meant a verb.
Of course, I cannot mention my internship experience without raving about the city of Pittsburgh. The moment I walked into Schneider Downs, I realized people here love their city. And for good reason! In my time here, I’ve really gotten to understand the rich culture and spirit of this city, starting from the first moment a fellow intern- a native Pittsburgher- informed me I’ve been pronouncing the word “Carnegie” wrong my whole life. I’ve come to appreciate how rooted the steel city is in its history; places such as the Car and Carriage museum offered a unique lens for me to witness Pittsburgh’s evolution from the Gilded Age to now. Beyond delving into the city’s history, I’ve been enchanted by the scenic views Pittsburgh has to offer, such as the unforgettable view of the city from the top of Mount Washington and the glittering reflection of the skies on the Allegheny River at golden hour. I’ve enjoyed local favorites of this definite food city, such as the famous burnt almond torte, which the Huffington Post hailed the “greatest cake America has ever made”- a compliment that is not at all empty! Although no one has used the second-person plural “yinz” on me, I’ve developed a true connection to this city, and the city too has left a deep impression on me.
My internship experience has given me the rare opportunity to step into the behind-the-scenes activities that must occur before a deal closes and to gain critical confidence working with documents such as income statements and balance sheets. These past few weeks have gone by quickly and I could not be more grateful and appreciative of the learning experience I’ve gained in M&A, the new friends I’ve made, and the lively, distinct Pittsburgh city culture I’ve come to love.
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