This past summer I had a 9-week internship at Harman International in their finance department as a “Financial Planning and Analysis Intern.” Despite Harman’s significant size, many people are unaware of the scope of the company’s business. Harman is a large corporation (about $7 billion of revenue) based in Stamford, CT, and is best known for being an audio company that owns JBL, AKG, and Harman Kardon. However, their main source of revenue and focus is in car audio and infotainment systems. The company is divided into four segments: infotainment systems for cars, consumer audio, professional audio, and something they call connected services, which does outsourced research and development (primarily writing software for telecom and auto companies). What makes Harman so interesting to me is that it joins hardware and software almost seamlessly and covers a wide array of products and services that makes for a constantly evolving company where there are always more to learn. While the company was just acquired by Samsung, they still function autonomously. The internship offered opportunity, flexibility, and value far more than I imagined.
At its most basic level, the internship offered the opportunity for me to refine my analytical and quantitative skills, as I performed market share and financial analysis, developed financial projections, valuations and risk assessments for the CFO. Coming from Davidson and having an interest in a career in finance, developing my analytical skill set was important to me. However, the knowledge and skills I acquired during this internship went far beyond just what I gained from preforming the tasks I was assigned. I developed relationships with many of the incredibly smart people that surrounded me, even if they weren’t in my division. My manager was able to introduce me to people in areas where I expressed interest. After getting acclimated to the environment, I started to do this on my own, and even got involved with projects in areas I wanted exposure. For example, I was curious to explore the concept and methods of valuation, so I reached out to the M&A group where I got involved in a valuation project – something that proved extremely interesting to me. This internship gave me greater confidence to take this kind of initiative, a life skill that I know will be incredibly valuable to me as I pursue my future career.
Finally, this internship gave me the opportunity to use my knowledge (mostly analytical problem solving strategies gained as a liberal arts student at Davidson!), creativity, and newly acquired financial skills to engage in an entrepreneurial business project and interact with professionals at all levels of the company. The interns were divided into groups to create and execute a business plan to promote and sell Harman headphones to companies and then present this strategy and results to CEO. The “Campus to Corporate” project was an all-encompassing “challenge” in many ways. It further developed and expanded many aspects of my business skill set, challenging my ability to strategize, collaborate, be creative, and execute, while also honing my presentation skills. Working with my teammates in a constantly changing and dynamic setting forced us to be nimble with our strategy execution and think outside of the box while staying focused on the end result. On top of everything else, the opportunity to present to the CEO and other executives was extraordinary!
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Annie Walker is in her junior year at Davidson College, majoring in political science with a minor in economics. Annie is interning this summer at Wells Fargo’s Investment bank in their NYC Technology Media and Telecom group.