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Finance Internships

Aaron Stoltenberg, Corporate Finance Intern at Oshkosh Corporation

Company Overview

Oshkosh Corporation is a leading specialty vehicle manufacturer headquartered here in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The company was founded in 1917, and employs more than 13,000 individuals worldwide nearly a century later. The Forbes 500 list ranked Oshkosh as the 322nd largest company, making it the 5th largest company which has its headquarters located in Wisconsin. The company operates in four segments: Access Equipment, Fire & Emergency, Defense, and Commercial. Oshkosh Corporation has acquired 15 companies in the past two decades. Pierce Manufacturing, McNeilus Companies, and JLG Industries are the largest acquisitions the company has made. 

In the past, the company has been successful in winning United States Government contracts to manufacture military vehicles. The company has not stopped here, as they have continued to expand globally. Oshkosh Corporation now has manufacturing facilities around the world in Australia, Asia, Europe, North America and South America. The company continues to expand in the global market and continues to look for opportunities around the world. 

How Did I Obtain My Internship?

In the fall of my junior year, I attended Networking Night and the Career Fair on the Fox. Here I was able to introduce myself to representatives from Oshkosh Corporation. I became familiar with the company through speaking events for the Accounting Club. I was interested in an internship that would allow me to work part-time during the school year and full-time in the summer and on breaks, and this internship fit that criteria. I was able to get an initial on-campus interview. After learning about the organization and its culture I was very interested in the position. I was fortunate enough to get a second on-site interview, where I interviewed with an accounting manager and another accountant. I felt comfortable with the two individuals and the organization. Within a week, I was offered the position to begin working during the spring semester.

My Roles

My main role includes assisting with the monthly, quarterly, and yearly closing cycles. I perform various accounting tasks in order to close the books for the previous period. Because of this I don’t do the same tasks every day, but many of the things I do will be replicated the following month as well. I really enjoy the variety of activities I have, as it allows me to learn more areas of accounting and not have to do the same exact thing day after day. Some of the tasks I perform include bank reconciliations, audit schedules, compiling reporting information, performing journal entries, performing budget allocations, and reporting Census data. 

My Future

I have been fortunate to learn many things as a Corporate Finance Intern for Oshkosh Corporation in the few months I have been here thus far. I will continue to learn about the accounting process and will expand my responsibilities as my internship continues. I intend to continue this internship until graduation in December 2014. I will be completing a double major in Accounting and Finance as well as completing the University Honors Program. Upon completion of 150 credits and graduation, I plan to sit for the Certified Public Accountant examination. 

Jon Ropella, Finance Intern, Paper Converting Machine Corporation


Overview

I am currently a Finance Intern at Paper Converting Machine Company in Green Bay. Paper Converting Machine Company is the only U.S. based manufacturer of tissue converters, tissue packagers, folders, and flexographic printers. They employ nearly 900 employees in the Green Bay area and have a global presence that includes plants in England and Italy, along with offices in Germany, Japan, and Latin America.

Feelings heading into my internship

Upon interviewing and receiving my internship, the excitement to start set in almost immediately. Up to this point in our academic careers we have been absorbed in books, lectures, and group assignments that are meant to prepare us for the job market. However, the countless hours of studying only provide us with the tools that we will need to build our careers. Our internships will provide us with real world experience that will allow us to build the base of our future careers.

I was very excited to take the tools that I have been taught in my classes and see how they could be utilized within a company. Not only was I excited to start using my education, but I was eager to see what the workplaces culture was like, and whether I would fit into it.

What I wish I knew before my internship

I have always considered myself above average when it came to my competency using Excel software, but I felt unprepared for the range and scope of its use in a company’s finance department. Excel is utterly necessary to process the thousands of pieces of data that is constantly moving through the company’s financial and accounting software. Every day at my internship I can feel my knowledge of Excel’s capabilities growing. I am grateful that the University requires a class such as QBA, and it does a great job of introducing Excel to us students, but only the real world can provide the amount of data necessary to unlock Excel’s true abilities.

Responsibilities

One of the first projects I was given was developing a template in Excel for recording and tracking the daily sales of different divisions within the company. I worked with several members of management to identify what pieces of data were most critical in determining the company’s day-to-day financial health, without being too bogged down in numbers.

Another large project I have been involved in is the building of the 2015 fiscal year budget and forecast. The yearly forecast will assist upper management in determining what strategic decisions must be made in order to keep the company on a healthy course. I look forward to my growing role within the finance department and the knowledge it is providing me.

Jordan Stachowski, Rockwell Automation

Overview

I am going to be a senior this fall at UWO and am currently working as a finance intern at Rockwell Automation in Milwaukee.  I am a part of their Systems and Solutions Business and assist with financial planning and analysis.

Rockwell Automation is a world-wide leader in industrial automation with total sales over $6 billion.  They manufacture thousands of products and solutions that are utilized by companies all over the world in order to increase efficiency, reduce waste, and improve operations.  Even though they bought out Allen-Bradley in 1985, Rockwell continues to produce under the Allen-Bradley brand.  Anyone who has ever been to Milwaukee knows about Rockwell’s famous clock tower that has stood as a symbol for over 50 years and holds the title as the largest four faced clock in the world.

Rockwell is very much a global entity, employing nearly 22,000 people, over half of which reside outside the United States.  They are a fortune 500 company and have received awards for being one of the world’s most ethical companies four times in their history.

Obtaining My Internship

My journey to become an intern at Rockwell Automation began in my sophomore year of college.  I was looking for a summer internship and began applying in February for positions through Milwaukeejobs.com. After two months and no luck, a family friend who worked at Rockwell within the accounting department tipped me off to apply for one of the many intern positions that Rockwell hired for every summer.  I knew of Rockwell Automation because I had previously worked at a machine shop for my uncles down in Milwaukee earlier on that year.  Unfortunately, by the time I applied, the hiring process was over and I did not get offered a position.  That led me to follow up the next year and apply much earlier in November.  I revised my resume and wrote out a cover letter for why I wanted a position with Rockwell and what I could offer their company, and before I knew it, I was called by human resources for a round robin interview the following month.  

Job Roles

My responsibilities at Rockwell involve a lot of work with Microsoft Excel.  I maintain numerous reports by updating information and retrieving data for specific accounts and entities using Rockwell’s software tools.  A lot of my work tends to analyze profit and loss statements and compare actual results against forecasts and budget plans.  I am also working on the development of a sustainability report that recognizes sustainable projects and solutions by revenue and standard cost.  

What I have Learned

In my two months at Rockwell, I have gained an immense amount of knowledge about the company, business processes, and how to become more effective in a work setting.  There is definitely a lot of give and take when you work alongside others in a large company.  Many times, the work that you need to accomplish is contingent on others accomplishing work of their own.  Numerous times in my internship I have been unable to complete one of my tasks because I am waiting for data, or a specific document from someone else, oftentimes someone from another region. This can be extremely challenging.  Adaptability is a must have skill and you must be able to prioritize things and reshuffle them when deadlines change.  

I have also learned the true value of having good communication between various parties.  The summer project I have worked on has forced me to call individuals I have never met and who are from different regions and have conversations with them related to specific data and project information.  I have spent a great deal of time investigating projects and trying to decipher where data came from and how it got labeled in a certain way.  It is very important for me to know what I am trying to ask and make sure to be clear with my thoughts and questions so other people can return me the answers I am looking for.  This type of work has been good for me as I am usually a fairly shy person.

Lastly, I have gotten the opportunity to learn a lot about Rockwell Automation itself.  I have tried to attend as many training and informational seminars as I can to learn more about the different business segments, and business units that comprise those segments.  I have done this in order to give myself a broader knowledge about the company.  You never know where your next job may be, so it has been good for me to get a wider background on the various opportunities that exist outside of my specific business unit.

Kimberly Boom, Accounts Payable Intern, University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh

Overview 

I am currently interning with the University of Wisconsin - Accounts Payable Administrative office and  I will graduate with a Finance major, Insurance minor as well as a tax Planinng emphasis.

The UW-Oshkosh campus has approximately 13,500 enrolled students and four colleges within the University - Business, Education & Human Services, Letters of Science and Nursing.  All of the colleges are highly accredited with the College of Business ranking in the top 10% in the nation and is the only AACSB accredited school in the region

Obtaining my internship

I applied to this position in February 2012, at the time it was a STEP (Student Titan Employment Program) opportunity offered featured on the Titan Jobs web page.  The interview was conducted panel style, meaning I was interviewed by five people at once. At the end of the interview I was asked to provide contact information on three professional references.  In a few days time I was contacted and offered the position. 

As my graduation date approached it became important that I obtain internship credit.  So I decided to ask my supervisor if it would be possible to expand my knowledge of the University Administration through the use of my current STEP position.  My supervisors were pleased to hear of my initiative and were willing to accommodate my internship requirement.  I soon found that the opportunity not only exceeded its face-value of internship fulfillment, it provided an unprecedented view of the University Administration. It enhanced my perspective of my own role within the administration and how I helped to facilitate many intra-departmental functions.  

What I do in my internship

I have learned a lot about the accounts payable process, like learning how to enter vouchers into the shared financial system in addition to performing reconciliation of accounts.  A few of my most common tasks are to send out checks that are ready to be mailed, enter vouchers into student financial system, sort mail matching purchase orders to their invoices.  

This internship has increased the frequency and range of projects I am able to work on.  Working on a greater variety of projects has helped to expand my knowledge on the functions in general, as well as shadowing and working with the other departments within the administrative office.

Max Gunderson, Procurement Co-op, Kimberly-Clark Corporation

Max Gunderson

How did you obtain your internship?

I first heard about this internship when I was meeting with Jessie Pondell for my resume review assignment for Professional Skill (Bus 284). Her and I began talking about what I was looking for as far as internships, and she showed me how to submit a request to interview with various companies that were interviewing on campus at the time. I saw that Kimberly-Clark was interviewing on campus within the next week so I sent in my resume, with some tweeks that Jessie suggested, and was notified the next day that I had been accepted for an interview. From there, I went and talked with K-C’s representatives at the career fair, and then I interviewed with them two days after that.   

How has your internship experience impacted your major selection or career path?

One of the largest impacts that my internship experience has had on me is that it has solidified that I am pursuing a major that I truly enjoy. I enjoy going to work every day and the tasks that I do. Kimberly-Clark also does a great job of providing its interns with the opportunities to broaden their horizons by shadowing different departments and having presentations with other departments so that you can really get a feel for what the other aspects of the business are doing. This is immensely helpful looking forward to my future career because I am able to have a better idea of what I actually want to be doing.

How were you able to connect with other interns?

In my opinion, Kimberly-Clark does a great job of providing opportunities to connect with the other co-ops. From the first day there are various ice-breaker events that you can choose to attend and get to know your peers. They also have a group for new employees, both interns and full-time new hires, that offers many helpful meet-and-greets and even offers a mentoring program for the new hires to get paired up with a more experienced employee. All these opportunities are up to you if you would like to participate or not, but I have found that by participating, it provides great insight into what your peers are doing as well as just being able to meet a lot of really great people.

Describe a stand-out moment or day at your internship.

I think the moment in my internship that stands out the most to me is one that happened fairly recently for me. One of the full-time employees on my team went out on medical leave and was out of the office for the foreseeable future. Upon hearing this, my team-leader told me that he would like me to step up and fill-in for that employee in his absence. My team leader reassured me that he has faith in me to be able to step up to the task, and that was a huge confidence booster for me. Just knowing that they trust me to step into more of a full-time role vs an intern’s role really shows that they have faith in me and the work I do. This has served as a great motivator to me, and really speaks to just how much K-C appreciates and utilizes the time they have with their interns to make it a mutually beneficial experience.

Monique Schweich, Finance Intern, Wells Fargo

Monique Schweich


What resources did you use to find your internship?

I was very fortunate for finding my position at Wells Fargo. The district president of Wells Fargo actually found me on LinkedIn and asked to have an informal interview with him on their new internship position. After our first meeting, we scheduled an actual interview and I was accepted for the internship position. I was not a firm believer in using LinkedIn as a source for finding a job, I am now however. Always keep your LinkedIn profile updated; you never know who is looking.

What challenges have you had to overcome at your internship?

The biggest challenge that I had working at Wells Fargo was opening up to my customers, which ultimately made it difficult for them to open up to me. I overcame this problem by becoming more knowledge in the products and services Wells Fargo offered. Most importantly, finding the value in their services.  Once I found the value in what Wells Fargo had to offer, it was so much easier talking to customers. I firmly believed that I could help them succeed financially.

Describe a stand-out moment or day at your internship.

One thing I will never forget at my internship was when I was able to help a lady so much that she literally cried. She was so stressed with falling behind on her bills and the balances on her credit cards. I was able to help her save hundreds of dollars a month and get back on track with her financials. It was such an amazing feeling to know that I actually can and did make a difference. It is things like that that make me want to go to work every day. 

Samantha Kuhn, Portfolio Manager Assistant, Tower View Investment Management

I completed an internship at Tower View Investment Management located in Milwaukee, WI with Raman Ghei as the owner and my direct supervisor.

At Tower View, I worked with client accounts and provided research on investing and economic topics. For investing work, I identified the proper asset allocation for clients and applied that allocation to Tower View’s model portfolio. Once the certain securities and weights of each security were selected, I helped develop the investment plan time schedule. Part of the time schedule was to assembling trade sheets which adhered to the investment plans. These are pre filled trade allocations that can easily be uploaded for execution. Trade sheets are important to have on hand because of market volatility. It is extremely important to have these ready to go at all times to ensure our clients enter the market at a good time/price. Another area of work I experienced was creating retirement projections. This required research on retirement such as what age to take social security, what is the age of full retirement, inflation rates, approximate percentage of income in retirement required, life expectancies and more. Once the research was complete, I created personalized matrices for clients. This matrix determined how much said client should be saving each year to earn a specific percentage of income in retirement years. This project was valuable because retirement savings in extremely important and many people do not know how much they should be setting aside to prepare for x amount of years in retirement. I also performed as needed research on specific stocks or mutual funds. This research included performance, price, expenses, and any current news related to the security. Stock analysis relates to investment classes I have taken. For a stock track simulation, we were required to analyze certain securities before we purchased them.

I made significant progress setting up investment plans. I am able to correctly identify nearly all clients’ asset allocations and select the correct securities for each client. I researched different securities that could be added to our model portfolio. These securities added benefit by reducing cost or having the potential to outperform existing ones. I learned to create trade sheets which used proper security symbols in which I had to memorize.

This experience has validated my desire to work in the investment field. Prior to this specific internship, I wasn’t certain if I was interested in financial planning or investing. I am not making plans to prepare for the CFA exam. I hope to be prepared within a year after graduation. I do not plan to have any changes in my coursework, as it is currently on track for any financial career.

The finance 334 class – Investment Management, was the perfect course to take simultaneously with my internship. In FIN 334, we did a semester long simulation called stock track. I was able to escape some of my fear of losing my own, or a client’s money with this simulation and actually see the potential of my own stock picks. It was eye opening and reduced the fear or uncertainty I always felt because many of my picks performed well. Another class that assisted me with this experience was Finance 333 – Financial Markets. Because interest rates play such a dramatic role in the economy and have a large effect on investment decisions, it was advantageous to learn about interest rate risk while working in the industry. I think the finance department teachings are very helpful the way they are and can be applied to most aspects of a real world finance job.

Tyler Smet, College Financial Representative, Northwestern Mutual

Tyler Smet


Obtaining my Internship

I was really trying hard to get an internship for this past summer, but was unable to find one. So I contacted the internship advisors for help.  They gave me many ways to contact employers to find an internship.  I ultimately got contacted by a recruiter from Northwestern Mutual after doing a lot of networking on LinkedIn.

Job Roles

My job duties include calling people and talking to them about meeting. Once I set a meeting with a person, I take them through the financial process that Northwestern Mutual has set up.  The first meeting, I get to know the person by finding out what personal, professional, and financial goals that they have. I then take what they give me to the office and come up with recommendations for how they can meet these goals. If they client takes any of the recommendations, I meet with this person again every 6-12 months to review their goals. I also have my life and health insurance licenses and have to present knowledge of other  Northwestern Mutual products.

What I have learned

The biggest thing I have learned at my internship is how to be a professional. I have learned how to speak professionally with clients as well as showing confidence.  Northwestern Mutual does an excellent of not setting you off to work alone. You are assigned a mentor that is teaching you all the time and that you do joint work with. There are many other representatives that will help you in joint work as well. 

Whitney DeBehnke, Finance Intern, Plexus Corporation

Introduction

I am currently completing my internship in the Engineering Solutions Accounting team at the Global Headquarters of Plexus Corporation located in Neenah, Wisconsin. My title at Plexus is Finance Intern and I report to the Accounting Manager, Kathy Schmid. I am privileged to be the first intern on the Engineering Solutions Accounting team which not only has been a growing and learning experience for me but for the team members as well. I work in a group of 7 which includes the Accounting Manager, four Financial Analysts, one Senior Accountant and one Accountant.

Work/Projects

The work that I do is primarily accounting work but I’ve also been given some finance based tasks. What I enjoy most about the work that has been given to me is the variety of responsibility and tasks. Each day the things that I need to get done is different. This has also helped with getting to know the individuals on the team because each of them are cross trained on the tasks I’ve been given and they each have given me tasks that they used to work on. The daily tasks I have include Job Number Requests, Forecast Tracker, sales, freight, and use tax postings, verifying contractor invoices, sending out a missing time report, check runs, and updating reports from different queries.

Job Number Requests are essentially forms that are submitted via email from Project Managers that show a budget for a project they are working on for one of our clients with the amounts allocated to specific materials and labor types. My job is to make sure that the information on the forms is updated in our ERP system (Sage 100) so when it comes time to bill our customers (which our Financial Analysts do) we can track how much of the budget has been used and what is left over or needed. These can take less than a minute to twenty minutes each to update since each project type is different and the labor and material codes are different for each type.

The Forecast Tracker is a report that I run every Tuesday which basically shows the amount of labor a project team will estimate for a given project and the actual labor that was spent on that given project. This report helps give our teams incentive to work more efficiently on a project and helps the project managers with estimating the labor it takes for different jobs.

Another one of my frequent tasks includes posting sales and use tax, and freight to specific jobs. What this means is for any material that Plexus purchases for a client’s job that doesn’t (but should) include sales tax, use tax, or freight, is being kept track of through our AP process and needs to be billed to our clients. The reports give me a total of tax and freight charges and I upload those amounts into our ERP system to ensure they’re posted to the jobs and billed to our clients after month end.

Many of our engineers are contracted through staffing agencies so instead of us paying them via payroll; we are billed for their time by the staffing agencies. I work on verifying that we’re being billed the correct amount for the right hours for each person by matching what is on the invoice to what the engineer entered their time as in our ERP system. We also keep track of the rates we’re being billed for each person in a report which I also use to verify the invoices are correct.

Each week I send out a missing time report for our non-billable people. This report pulls all of the time entered in Sage 100 ERP for our non-billable people on the Engineering Solutions teams. All of our full-time staff is required to enter their time for the week in our ERP system and this report will show those that didn’t enter their time or entered less than 40 hours. We keep track of everyone’s time to help indicate what the staffing needs are for Plexus.

Accounts Payable check runs are also one of my frequent responsibilities. We cut checks every other week to pay the invoices processed by our Senior Accountant. Once in a while we will have off-cycle checks which are single checks that need to be cut on a random day which I am also responsible for.

Along with the daily tasks I’ve been given, there are also several Month End duties I’ve been learning and working on since I started at Plexus. These tasks include tracking and reconciling our prepaids, the subcontractor accrual, and reconciling Inventory, Accounts Payable, and Accounts Receivable.

We keep a report of all of our contracts for different services which we prepay and then expense as we use them up over the months. My job is to make sure the report is updated with new contracts and that the amounts expensed are being allocated in the correct amounts to the correct teams. We use these amounts to bill our teams (intercompany transactions) so it’s important to keep the reports accurate. Then at the end of the month I reconcile the prepaid account with the report I use to verify the amounts are the same.

The subcontractor accrual is an entry that I make in our software after I determine what amount we expected to hit our account and what hasn’t hit our account for contractor time.

Our Inventory, Accounts Payable, and Accounts Receivable account reconciliations are the other month end tasks I do. These reconciliations match up what is recorded in our General Ledger, and what is recorded in the reports and modules we use for these processes.

Learning

As for each of the goals I’ve set at the beginning of the semester I believe I have improved and made progress on each of them. I’ve been trained on different tasks from each of the Financial Analysts and Accountants which has given me a better understanding of what their jobs entail. I’ve definitely improved my processing time of Job Number Requests since they come in often and I’ve become more familiar with the different types of jobs and codes used. I’m still working on my problem solving skills while I learn the processes they use. My goal there is to help improve at least one of the processes before my time there is finished. My skill with accounting software and Microsoft excel has also been a major improvement as a result of working on this team.

Future Plans

This experience has made me feel more comfortable about choosing Accounting as my major field of study at UW Oshkosh. After graduation, I would absolutely love to pursue a position similar to the one I’m in now. I feel comfortable with the work I’ve been given and my ability to learn and take on more challenging tasks which I believe makes me a great fit for a private accountant. My experience in accounting work here and in my last internship has sparked my interest to also pursue the CPA or CMA designation which I know will help me in many ways to get me where I would like to be long term which is on a team like the Engineering Solutions team at Plexus.

Preparation/Recommendations

My Accounting courses have helped develop my accounting intuition that I use to learn the processes of transactions and movement of information in our accounting team. My QBA class has also given me  a great foundation for Microsoft Excel which I use in nearly all of my tasks mentioned above. My biggest recommendation for the accounting department at UW Oshkosh is to expose students to accounting software. It can be challenging to learn since every system is different but it’s absolutely critical to understand when performing daily tasks in the workplace.

Zachary Westenberg, District Agent Intern, Modern Woodmen of America

Zachary Westenberg


Overview

My name is Zachary Westenberg and I am going into my senior year at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.  I will be graduating in the spring with a degree in finance.  I am currently a district agent intern at Modern Woodmen of America.  MWA is a fraternal financial services organization that has been around since 1883.  This summer I am focusing the on life insurance side of financial services. 

Obtaining my internship

My first encounter with Modern Woodmen of America was at a career fair right on campus.  I knew about the business and the type of work they do there.  My dad started his career with MWA 25+ years ago, I was already covered by a small MWA life insurance policy.  The initial conversation went great with the two gentlemen that were recruiting at the fair.  They wanted to sit down the next day for an interview.  After a series of three interviews I was asked if I would like to join their group.  I waited a few days because I was also interviewing for the same type of position but with a different organization.  I like MWA policies and investment ideas better than the other companies so I accepted the offer. As intimidating as career fairs can be they do work!!

Connecting with other interns

MWA has a 10 week training course that all the interns attend.  The course is once a week for about 2 hours.  This is really all the connecting I have had with other interns.  Not all of the interns in this course continued and are licensed to sell insurance during the summer.  I always looked forward to the meeting with the other interns as most of us all had the same questions.  It was a fun and educational experience.

Internship affecting my career path

I believe my internship experience has helped me in my career path in a positive way.  I want to become a full service financial planner.  Insurance is like the base of an investment/planning pyramid.  I am currently working with only the base, but soon after earning more licenses I will be able to offer and conduct much more types of investments.  I have also learned how difficult it is to build your own book of clients.