BY: KRISTEN HELWIG
Where are you interning?
I am currently interning with Chatham Financial in Kennett Square, PA. Chatham is a global firm providing financial advisory services and technology solutions, specializing in the debt and derivatives markets. They serve the investment, debt, and risk management needs of clients across a spectrum of industries and markets – more specifically, Global Real Estate, Corporates, and Financial Institutions. Chatham is a purpose-driven organization, committed to making a positive impact for their clients, associates, communities, and the capital markets at large, which I have seen firsthand. They take the concepts of partnership and trust to an entirely new level.
What are your responsibilities as an intern?
My responsibilities as an intern cover a wide range of functionalities, some of which are client-specific. I am working within the Global Real Estate Sector on the Debt Management Team, within which some of my responsibilities include: managing database updates to meet client reporting timelines, training new client users on system functionality, answering clients’ day-to-day questions and providing advisement on their various debt reports, aiding in new client on-boarding into Chatham’s system, functioning as a liaison between the business team and development team on system issues/client requests, and above all, doing so with nothing short of my best efforts. Chatham has also made it clear that one of my bigger responsibilities is to learn, from as many people as I possibly can. I am constantly striving to expand my frontier of knowledge, constantly asking questions, and constantly utilizing my time at Chatham. My team treats me as if I am a fully functioning, full time, member of the team – this is an entirely separate responsibility of mine, but one that I feel extremely lucky to have.
Describe a typical day at your internship.
Typically, I arrive to work between 8 and 8:30AM. Upon arriving, I briefly catch up with everyone on my team – see how everyone’s night went, etc. Next, I typically tackle my inbox, and get organized with a list of tasks I need to complete that day, and then I get right to it. Mid-morning, my team gathers for 10-15 minutes and we “scrum” – I am not entirely sure where this term came from, but basically, everyone tells the team what they have on their plate for the day, and if some people have capacity for more work while others are drowning in their work, tasks are shifted around. It is a wonderful communication tool that keeps everyone feeling like people have their back, as well as making our team more efficient as a whole. Shortly after that, I go through the same process with the development team, and fill them in on any technological issues my team is facing to get help. Once again, truly a wonderful communication tool. Once everyone has their agenda set for the day, the rest of my morning is typically spent either in virtual meetings with clients, or servicing their day-to-day needs at my desk. Some typical day-to-day tasks include updating their loan documents (if they have an amendment or new loan agreement), loading new loans into Chatham’s database, maintaining asset and lender allocations (loan specific), updating credit spreads in our system, and troubleshooting where clients’ balances are not matching the balances in our system. For lunch, I typically either go out with coworkers of mine (a fantastic way to meet new people, and highly encouraged), or I eat lunch with the other interns (we are all split up, so it is nice to catch up with them and hear about their work). My afternoons are typically more hectic than my mornings, but with very similar work involved. Because everything is so client-specific, there are some afternoons where within 5 minutes I have 5 hours’ worth of new work to do, and some where I have no high priority tasks and can put my time into maintaining our internal system and doing input checks of other peoples’ work on my team. My days typically end between 5 and 6 PM, contingent on when I finish my work for the day.
What is your favorite thing about your internship?
My favorite thing about working at Chatham is how comfortable I am there. It sounds simple, but I think it is quite rare to find an organization where you truly feel you can be yourself. Chatham’s purpose-driven nature holds true across the charts, and I know I am welcome to ask any coworker of mine any question at any time, and from my experience, they are always not only willing to help, but go above and beyond. I love the value Chatham places on respecting how much you know – knowing your limits and when you need help from others, both to provide the highest quality work, and to expand your own knowledge. Because of this comfort I have found, I head to work every morning excited for what that day holds, and leave work every evening feeling content with the day I had.
What is the most valuable skill you developed in this internship that you can use in your future career?
There are so many valuable skills I have gained thus far at Chatham, but I think the most valuable and applicable to my future work is the exposure Chatham has brought me with client facing, as well as interwork relationships (in other words, soft skills). I have become far more comfortable and confident in myself interacting with both clients and coworkers, and I think this will always serve me well – client facing will always be a huge player in financial services. Everything comes more naturally as you have more exposure, and I think Chatham has laid a wonderful foundation for me to build upon with how to serve clients as well as one another in a trusting and comfortable manner. Even the simplest of tasks like assessing client questions, or pulling in help from a team member if I don’t have an answer to their specific question, are skills that I have acquired, and in a polished manner.
What was something unexpected that happened during your internship, or resulted because of your internship?
Something unexpected that I came across just last week, was getting the chance to speak with Chatham’s founder, Mike Bontrager. He as well as one of his colleagues scheduled time to meet with the entire group of interns this summer, and we got to chat about his thoughts and visions for Chatham, as well as bounce around some interesting questions. It was incredible to simply hear him speak and get a sense for how his mind works, which became especially prominent when he engaged with us individually, asking us each some different questions. I was humbled that he took time out of his day to engage in dialogue with us, and it is something I will never forget.
What advice or words of wisdom can you share for other students who may be interested in pursuing this internship, or a similar one?
My best advice: GO WITH YOUR GUT. The world of finance can be very daunting, and for me, when I went through the interview process for various companies to try and land an internship for this summer, Chatham was always the place I felt I belonged, but at the same time felt too good to be true. Chatham felt like a hidden gem to me – they are honestly just exceptional people doing exceptional work, and the firm as a whole strives to make a difference in financial markets. Chatham’s interview process is very lengthy, so chances are if you are offered the chance to be a Chathamite, you have the type of character and values that would not only thrive, but blossom there. I would say ultimately to keep this in mind, and run with the opportunity!
How did you grow as a future professional in this field?
I believe I have grown as a professional simply by just gaining some real world experience. It is no secret that what you learn in a college classroom is, more often than not, drastically different than the functions of financial markets in the real world. It is because of this, that I put so much time and effort into finding the correct internship to suit me best this summer. From these 10 weeks I will take with me lifelong people skills, an educated knowledge of derivatives, and an in depth knowledge of real estate markets. I have grown by as an individual by watching, learning, and doing – all functions that will come with the implementation of any new experience. I think I have gained professionalism, maturity, as well as confidence in myself as a woman in business, and am looking forward to the opportunities ahead of me.
Kristen Helwig is a Mathematics and Economics major with a minor in Business Administration expecting to graduate in 2018.