By Tanner Warrick `16A
ccounting students at UC Santa Barbara know how important it is to have a finance internship during college. In this competitive economic climate, employers look for previous professional experience when hiring recent graduates.
“UCSB has great recruitment for jobs upon graduation, but the competition is extremely high,” said Matt Nahangi, a current finance intern at the UC Santa Barbara Alumni Association. “I knew I needed to stand out from the rest of the economics and accounting students.”
Every year at the UC Santa Barbara Alumni Association, three finance interns get the valuable internship experience they need to successfully market themselves to employers in finance. Over 40 interns have graduated from the finance internship program, landing jobs at reputable finance companies, including the “Big Four” accounting firms Ernst Young, PwC, KPMG and Deloitte.
The program spans about a year and a quarter, allowing interns to engage in hands-on learning and honing their skills. “The internships that come with the Big Four firms are usually six to eight weeks during the summer,” said Hazra Kamal, financial officer at the Alumni Association and founder of the finance internship program. “There is no way one could compare the quality of training to this internship.”
“Working as a finance intern has not only solidified my classroom knowledge, it has taught me more than I could learn in school,” said Justin Kim, a fourth year student in the program. “This is not for someone who wants to spend their summer making copies or typing numbers.”
Beyond basic bookkeeping and the fundamentals of accounting, interns also develop other skills like professional communication that other internships might not emphasize. “For finance people to communicate with non-finance people is often times a challenge,” said Kamal. “That is a skill that is well groomed by the time the interns are done here.”
Intern Haoxin Li said one of the most important lessons he learned was to bring a notepad any time he asked a question so that he wouldn’t have to be embarrassed and ask the question again.
“Beyond the technical skills I acquired within Microsoft Excel and QuickBooks, I obtained stronger qualities I never expected,” said Nahangi. “My professionalism and communication within the workplace have sharpened dramatically.”
Nahangi will start his career at Deloitte in Orange County after graduating this June. He is excited to apply the skills he gained at the Alumni Association in the professional world. “Working as a finance intern at the Alumni Association will give you all the tools needed to succeed professionally,” he said. “The hard work, dedication, and ambition has led me to this success.”
The internship requires a strong and dedicated work ethic, but the interns value Kamal’s demand for professionalism because it gives them the tools to succeed. “Whether she was giving advice on how I should compose myself when talking to people professionally, or just explaining accounting concepts, she was always teaching me something new,” said Kim. “I would not be the financial accountant I am today if it were not for her.”