While most teenagers were probably “having fun” this summer, I on the other hand, was introduced to the world of finances and had lunch with the CEO of a company. Not your typical kind of summer right?
From a teenage perspective, the financial industry isn’t something you fall in love with at first sight. In fact, you probably wouldn’t even care to find out more about it until you’re introduced to it. My internship at Salem Partners has been one that I will never forget, not only because all the numbers I had to deal with, but because it was an experience like no other. Like every good experience, there are upsides and downsides to it. Although going up 22 floors on an elevator and waking up at 5:00 am three days a week to get ready and take the bus to get to my internship location wasn’t something I was necessarily thrilled about, but the experience at Salem Partners was worth every minute.
I basically went in blind, I had NO IDEA about what I was going to do. I didn’t have any previous knowledge about finances, so of course I was a little worried. Once I got to Salem Partners I realized that I was worrying for nothing. The employees were incredibly sweet and kind, and I wouldn’t have asked to be in a better place. During the internship, I did a variety of things. From recovering corrupted client data, to checking client transactions, I was doing real work that professional financial analysts do.
I had many worries every day. What am I going to wear tomorrow? I’m supposed to look professional and I definitely can’t wear the same thing twice! Are the heels going to make my feet hurt? Should I take flats or an extra pair of clothing just in case? Whose office am I going to be in today? What if I’m late? What if I spill something? What If i do something wrong? Will that be the end of my internship? All these thoughts were running through my head every day, but with time I began to feel comfortable in such professional environment and everything seemed to fall into place.
I currently have a part-time job, but this internship was nothing like it. My daily routine went a little something like this:
It all starts early in the morning at 8:00 AM, with a fresh brewed DARK, and I mean DARK cup of coffee… or maybe two, depending on how much caffeine you need to stay awake… For me it was usually two.. with a serious amount of sugar and cream of course.. Then I would head to my very own office and began to work.
…Just kidding, I didn’t have my own office! Haha…
The clock hit 12:00 pm and that meant it was time for my favorite part of the day, LUNCH BREAK! I tried to eat at a different place every day since I had one whole hour to do so. At 1:00pm it was time to get back to work… And maybe another cup of coffee… three hours passed and it was 4:00 pm, that meant it was TIME TO GO HOME!
This internship not only served as a professional experience, but as a self-discovery one too. I realized how awful I am at remembering names and communicating with adults. Though I might not have the best memory or outgoing personality, I can honestly say that most, if not all, of the employees at Salem Partners went out of their way to get to know me, and help ease the transition to this internship.
During the internship I was able to have deep conversations with some of the employees there, which I enjoyed very much. Towards the end of the internship, Mr. Stephen Prough, CEO and Co-Founder of Salem Partners, and I had the chance to go out to lunch and get to know each other better. Likewise with Rebecca Olsen, from whom I learned very much. It meant a lot to me that such important people took time out of their busy schedule to get to know me better, such thing that I would have never thought would happen. I mean I’m just a high school girl right? But to them I wasn’t, and that only made me feel closer to them.
What I liked most about Salem Partners was their history. It was very interesting to me to learn about the start of the company and where they are at now. It all started because Prough and his college buddy John Dyett decided they wanted to build something from scratch and watch it grow. Though with fear that this would not work out as planned, Prough and Dyett, through hard work and dedication towards the company, kept it going.
“The environment is friendly and stimulating as well as ambitious. The people here are very hard working,” said Prough.
When Salem Partners first opened its doors, there was only ONE woman employee at the firm, but now there are FOUR. Although four women employees in the length of 18 years might seem as a minor change, it is still progress and I was really happy to see that even if it is at a slow pace, women are rising to enter male dominant fields.
I’m a huge feminist. I believe that both women and men are able to do the exact same things. For this reason when I got to Salem Partners and realized there were actually more women than I imagined, I was shocked (in a good way). I was very curious as to how the women felt being there, and so I began my own little investigation. As I spoke to some of the few women there, I noticed that when referring to their working environment they had similar answers. Rebecca Olsson, whom is an Operations Associate (meaning she deals with day-to-day operations such as human resources and client services), has been with Salem Partners for seven years now and she refers to her co-workers as understanding and caring.
“Working at Salem is fast and demanding environment, but very rewarding in the end,” said Olsson.
“Everyone helps each other out,” said Olivia Uranga, who works in administration, also refers to the company as a “friendly environment.”
Like many other woman in any field, she had to work for her current position. Though she initially started as receptionist at Salem Partners, she was later promoted to Prough and Dyett’s assistant. Both of their answers were very similar. But what stood out was that they both mentioned that they aren’t intimidated by men, and they don’t feel any less than the other employees there. In the short time I was with Salem Partners, I learned a lot from all these women. They inspired me to be more confident within myself and to never limit the things that I can do.
After this internship, I realized that though it is very scary to jump into a field that you have absolutely no clue about, it is worth it. And even though I might not be a financial manager in the future, I gained an experience this summer that many teenagers didn’t. Thanks to this experience I now know that I’m ready for the big world. I’m ready to have lunch with CEOs of company’s, I’m ready to work in a professional environment, I’m ready to engage and interact with other adults regardless of my age, but more than anything I am ready to take on whatever opportunity life throws in my way no matter how scary it may seem.
Now about the incredibly dark coffee and the 22 floor elevators.. that I might not be ready for just yet…