First Wilshire has a long history of training interns, several of which later became employees. Apart from graduates or near graduates with a strong interest in investment research, we have also hosted a few high school students. The basic concepts of finance and research are invaluable to everyone and we enjoy planting the seeds early. We also appreciate the insights from smart, highly motivated young people whose perspective adds to our research process. The skills they pick up with us will grow along with them as they enter college and beyond. Among the assignments given to our latest intern was an informal summary of her experience, copied below. We are certain Audrey will do excellent in her last year of high school and be an incredible addition to any college she chooses. Best of luck, Audrey.
My First Wilshire Experience, AKA – An Inexperienced Intern vs. Her Most Formidable Adversary: The Research Filing Cabinet
The first thing I did when I got to work on my first day at First Wilshire was attend a meeting with a company who sells “prepaid card programs and processing services.” Maybe you know what that means, but I sure didn’t. I had absolutely no comprehension of what the company we were meeting with was trying to explain to us, but I’m glad Scott sent me in there–the meeting kept me on my toes. It was necessary to be ready for anything and have an open mind throughout my internship at First Wilshire because I had quite a few interesting experiences that I never expected to have. My name is Audrey and I interned at First Wilshire this summer, getting the opportunity to work in the office and learn all about investments and the stock market. Whether it was having a business meeting with an Indonesian billionaire or calling store locations of a women’s clothing store for research (that is far from my taste), I did some things at First Wilshire that I never thought a mere internship would give me the chance to participate in.
There were many opportunities for learning over the course of the five weeks I was involved with First Wilshire. I spent my first two weeks with the company reading books on investments, my favorite being One Up on Wall Street by Peter Lynch. Reading these books and writing book reports on them gave me a baseline understanding of the basics of value investing and what First Wilshire does; this made it so I wasn’t going into my first official day of work completely blind. Once my three weeks of in-office work began, I got the chance to work with many different employees at the office. I learned about trading from Christian, Karen showed me the duties of an analyst and enlightened me to the wonders of the Bloomberg machine, and Shandel showed me how the company website is run (just to name a few). Everyone who I had the pleasure of interacting with was nothing but gracious and enthusiastic to share their wealth of knowledge with me. I also got to sit in on several business meetings ranging from media companies hoping for us to invest to investors coming to us to learn about First Wilshire.
One of my favorite assignments was when Scott gave me a long-term project researching a women’s fashion retailer based in the Southeast. He tasked me with calling specific locations disguised as a friendly shopper looking to buy her mom a gift for her birthday, while I was actually sleuthing out whether the stores were efficient, well-stocked, and if they even got any customers. Calling companies on the phone was definitely a bit nerve-racking, especially considering that I am a teenager that is fully accustomed to and very comfortable with “texting culture,” but with every call I became more relaxed. Not only did I learn information about the field of investments with this internship, but I also picked up valuable new skills like being able to comfortably talk on the phone and knowing how to do tricky things on Microsoft Excel.
During my fleeting time at First Wilshire, my biggest duty was what I have dubbed Project Filing Cabinet. A past analyst at First Wilshire (shout out Gregg) had compiled eight dauntingly stuffed drawers of notes on companies from the 1980s to the mid 2010s and it was my job to go through each and every one of the companies, take note of the ticker in an excel file, and compile all of his handwritten notes on them. After countless paper cuts and hours spent combing through cabinets, I finalized the stock list and then worked closely with Karen to use the Bloomberg machine to create a detailed excel sheet that gave information on the companies, including data like the P/E ratio, P/FCF, and Net Debt/Equity (before my time at First Wilshire, if someone asked me what any of those terms meant I probably would have assumed they were speaking to me in another language). Using this information, we narrowed down the stocks from almost 500 companies to 70, and then selected a few that really caught our eyes. Once we reached the final few stocks, I did my own research on what they do and how they are run. Doing this close work with Scott and Karen was incredibly fulfilling. I was not only extensively learning about investments and how First Wilshire is run, but I was also working as a real analyst, researching companies, looking at data, and making logical decisions based on what I was learning. My experience with real research and analysis turned what could have been an odious intern’s task into a legitimate opportunity for learning and potential investment.
First Wilshire never made me feel like the stereotypical intern: nervous, inexperienced, and reticent (even if I was all of those things at one point or another). Sure, I was definitely the go-to for lunch pickups, but when I was working, I always felt like I was treated with respect and patience. Scott didn’t just give me “busy work.” He really wanted me to learn and gave me tasks that he thought would be fulfilling for me. Maybe it’s just because this is my first time ever with a “job,” but I feel like the employees and atmosphere at this company are different. I was nervous about immersing myself into the working world because I was so young and inexperienced, but my trepidations immediately subsided when everyone introduced themselves and I realized that they were happy to help and excited to share their knowledge with someone who was eager to learn.
Thank you to all the employees of First Wilshire who welcomed me to your office with open arms. Your efforts to make me feel comfortable did not go unnoticed and I appreciate each and every one of you! I’m so grateful I got to know you lovely people and I hope to see you around. I can tell that my time with this company was well-spent because writing this is making me nostalgic that it is coming to an end.