Meet Lisa van Blokland FxF community member! In our article, Lisa addresses a common question: Can you start your finance journey without an internship? Lisa unravels her experiences and provides valuable advice for those aiming to enter the dynamic world of finance through unconventional paths.

First steps 

After obtaining my bachelor’s degree in International Business at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, I enrolled in the master’s program in Finance at the University of Amsterdam. Throughout my bachelor’s studies, I did not recognize the importance of an internship in the finance industry. It was only during my first conversation with Female x Finance that I realized the value an internship could bring, allowing me to gain insight into the finance world. 

“Acquiring experience in the finance sector is crucial for navigating you towards your specific interests. A 3-month internship not only allows you to familiarize yourself with a company but also provides valuable insights, preparing you for a successful career in finance.” 

Starting a master’s in a new city, especially in a male-dominated field, can be a bit tough at first. In the beginning, I hesitated to ask for help because it seemed like everyone else had their plans sorted out for after their Finance master’s. I felt pressured to appear as though I had everything figured out. Honestly, though, I had no clue about what I wanted to do after finishing my master’s.

During my bachelor’s, there wasn’t much emphasis on the importance of internships in figuring out your career direction. I used to think I’d just jump into work after my master’s. However, after my first conversation with Female x Finance, I realized that doing an internship could really help me find the right career path. It’s okay to struggle a bit initially; don’t be shy to let people lend a hand in finding your way. An internship can be your guide for landing the perfect job.

Back to basics

After questioning my decision to pursue this master’s without a clear post-graduation plan, I went back to the basics to remind myself of why I chose the Finance program in the first place. I have a genuine passion for working with numbers, understanding their fluctuations, and delving into the causes and consequences of these changes.

My turning point came during the Corporate Finance Academy, where I got the opportunity to connect with the company I’ll be doing the internship with in April. Engaging in a case confirmed that my interests align with the corporate finance field, providing me with a reassuring feeling that I’m on the right path. Exploring various companies within the Corporate Finance Academy allowed me to perceive the different sectors within corporate finance, helping me to pinpoint my preferred field.

Gaining as much help and insight as possible is important. Familiarize yourself with the finance industry, and engage with diverse companies across various directions and departments to truly understand your interests. Additionally, keep in mind that an

internship doesn’t decide your lifelong career but serves as a convenient way to explore the industry and a specific company.

 

What Lisa is suggesting

While it’s not mandatory to do an internship before entering the finance workforce, it was made clear to me that it is highly recommended by several companies.

Moreover, I’ve realized that the right internship involves connecting with people within the company and understanding the workplace atmosphere. This experience serves as an introduction to the real dynamics of the finance sector. In a couple of months, you’ll gain a lot of knowledge, so therefore, being comfortable with your fellow colleagues is important.

The experience of an internship is always valuable, it gives you insight into a company where you’d like to work or a similar one. Alternatively, it might help you to gain practical skills in the finance sector, allowing you to explore different directions within the industry if the specific focus of the internship isn’t your preference.

 

Why an internship can be helpful for you

Starting your master’s and figuring out where you want your career to go can be a bit tricky. However, delving into an internship experience can prove to be the right move, guiding you towards the finance sector you are interested in. 

In this process, don’t be afraid to seek guidance and connect with a diverse range of individuals to develop a good understanding of your areas of interest. Once you’ve found your preferred direction within finance, start conversations with professionals from different companies to assess which aligns best with your internship goals. Participation in networking events adds value to your understanding of various companies, providing opportunities to interact with professionals and determine the best fit for you. This approach is the most effective way to familiarize yourself with the finance industry.

If you’re not sure which part of finance is right for you, consider doing an internship. In a few months, you’ll learn a lot, and it can point you in the right direction for your career after your master’s. Even if you already know what area you want to work in, an internship is still helpful. You’ll gain experience in that field, and you can use what you learn in your first job. 

To find the best internship for your goals in finance, talk to different people in different companies. Don’t be shy about asking for help from your network to meet people in the industry. If you’re not sure where you want to go in finance, don’t worry. An internship can help you figure it out and get ready for your future in finance. Embrace the journey of self-discovery through internships; for in each experience, you not only find the path to your future in finance but also uncover the valuable lessons that create the way to success.