3. November 2016
Hello! My name is Alina, I am 18 years old and I am doing an internship at Athena CFO here in Abu Dhabi, UAE for three weeks. In this blog I will write about working in a finance company for the first time, things I have learned and experienced, and first impressions about the industry.
I’m at day three in my internship today and I’ve already figured that many things are different than I thought they would be – in a positive way! When I first thought of doing an internship in a financial orientated company I thought about numbers over numbers, excel charts which I don’t understand or at least need a week to understand a bit of them. Of course, this job doesn’t work without numbers or excel charts, but it is not just about that. Like in a job in the communication industry for example it is very important to be able to work in a team, even if the first thing you think about when you hear of finances are numbers, bills, invoices and costs. I learned that there are different people in charge of different tasks and one does not work without the other especially if a company deals with such sensitive topics like finances.
I am excited to discover more and fulfill more tasks in the next two and a half weeks.
Stay tuned for what’s coming!
Today we went to the Enterprise Agility Forum by Entrepreneur Magazine where founding partners, co-founders, CEOs and CFOs talked about different topics like Growth Hacks for Start-Ups to move out of their home market and expanding their SME’s reach or managing their money after they have got funded.
Athena CFO founding partner Christiane was on stage, talking about managing finances after companies receive funding – “Mo Money Mo Problems: Managing your money (and your burn rate) after you’ve got funded”. She and the other panelists Jon Richards, CEO, compareit4me.com, Dany Farha, CEO, BECO Capital, Dr. Christiane Schloderer, Founding Partner, Athena CFO, Kunal Kapoor, CEO, The Luxury Closet conveyed their knowledge about finance management to young start-up companies in the audience.
It was very interesting to listen to the panel for me in person because it was my first “live experience“ of a large industry event. I was alsp able to experience a workday at Athena CFO outside the office.
However, really cool was the tweeting I did, while Christiane was on the panel. Twitter really hit it off #AgilityForum and it was super exiting to be part of it.
I learned that one of the most important tasks to fulfill on such events is meeting new people, get connected and further build up the already existing pipeline. The importance of connections cannot be underestimated! So, every company, especially start-up company, which were mostly represented on this panel, should use the chance and visit events like this one. It is very time consuming and you can’t be sure that you get being results, but still it is a very good way of meeting new and interesting people.
When you work in a company that deals with finances especially with finances of other companies you must make sure to work precisely and focused. There were lots of numbers, amounts, bills and lists that I was comparing and checking and, if necessary correcting them. I spent a few days reconciling supplier invoices with bank statements or ensuring that invoices were booked correctly.
But even if it might seem like all these amounts and bills are just numbers on a sheet, there stand for actual money that is spend or earned. Checking bills or comparing excel list is only a small portion of the overall work that needs to be done when managing the finances of a company, but it certainly takes a lot of time.
Yet, it is an important task in order to be sure no mistakes has been made or made mistakes can be corrected. I learned to be focused a lot more that I was used to in seemingly difficult tasks. If you thought studying was nerve wracking as I did, than be warned: managing finances is much more nerve wracking, which is probably the fact why companies hire Athena CFO to run their finances instead of doing it all in-house.
There is great responsibility that comes with tasks like this, which is fun. I have the feeling that I can help with the work that I do.
And another important fact: Do not lose your patience, you will have to do everything again if you do. From the very first column of that excel list. Believe me, I know what I am talking about.
We went to an event by SME Academy about the introduction of VAT in the UAE. I don’t know that much about VAT, so some of the topics went over my head, but overall, it was very interesting. I think I was able to understand the basics of the VAT concept. The speakers said over and over again how important it is to plan ahead for VAT introduction. 2018 is not far away. Christiane mentioned that Athena CFO might be offering a VAT package next year. I think companies would really benefit from this.
Christiane showed me how to write my personal finance plan. It was a bit scary how much money one spends without realizing it. Once it is written down, it becomes very obvious. I will certainly do more if financial planning in the future for myself.
Today I worked on my a few marketing tasks on my own, because my boss was not in the office. Apart from continuing with this blog, I created a CRM database for Athena CFO and I did some client related research on credit cards.
It is very different to work alone, having self-responsibility, especially if you know that you have to deliver your results at the end of the day.
But it also helped me to structure my day on my own, because I know that I am not going to be an intern my whole life. I think this is good way to learn that the life after school or while studying is nice but life is starting with your first day that nobody tells you what to do anymore. This was the hardest part for me: To be not able to ask questions. Especially if you must work your way through such challenging tasks, which require concentration.
However, Christiane had something in mind when she said I am going to work alone today. Because it helped me realize that if you keep thinking, and have the will to fulfill the task you were given you can do it!
Sometimes you do not need to ask, sometimes you just have to ask your brain, if you think you cannot do something. You will be able to do it!
Today was the last day of my internship at Athena CFO.
I have to say that I have learned a lot in the past three weeks, not only in finances but also in working in a company in general. It was a great experience for me to be able to see a company from the inside, with all its running processes and teams, for the first time.
And, also work in a division like finance management, that I never have been in touch with before was very interesting. I never would have thought that I would learn much. But I did! And it does not matter if it is how to work with an accounting system, booking invoices or how I would have to behave in a meeting or an interview.
I was given the chance to participate on such events. The fun fact is that you go through such situations in school a lot in order, to “be prepared” for later on. I realized it is nothing like that in real life. So, as you can see, I learned a lot! And being familiar with finances is a good thing to be, in private as well as job matters.
Especially in a young age like I am, where spending money is not so much planed but more a force of habit in order, to call yourself the owner of nice clothes, expensive shoes or phones, or whatever matters. But be aware, and I had to learn that the hard way to, money is gone faster than you can earn it!
If you would like to learn more about internships at Athena CFO – drop me an email: alina @ athena-cfo.com.