More than a simple figure of speech, the learning curve is a real and practical economic model relating time (or cost) spent on a project to cumulative output of production. In short, as cumulative production increases, the amount of time it takes to produce that output decreases (also known as economies of scale). Figure 1 shows a simple example of the learning curve. Figure 1
Now the learning curve is no new concept. In fact, it’s a very basic one. But as an intern getting my first real taste of the financial sector, the learning curve seemed rather daunting.
I am currently a junior studying finance at the University of Alaska Anchorage and was thrilled to have been chosen for APCM’s Fall internship program. Over the past two and a half years I have heard many professionals say that college classes teach you “near to nothing about the real world” – that college is simply a long-term investment showing you know how to follow directions and that you have a grasp of delayed gratification. They said that experience is what teaches you the most. After being an intern for only a month so far, I can attest to the truth of what those professionals said. When you physically do something, especially under pressure, you retain about 75% of what you did, compared to only 10-30% if you simply read material.
From day one, I dove headfirst into projects from both the individual and institutional wealth management sides of APCM. One of my first assignments involved creating a couple’s financial planning profile from information they provided during client meetings. Learning all the different rules regarding social security claiming strategies, and tax exemptions was enough to make me go to bed early that night. But it also made me even more excited to come back the next day.
Working with investment analysts on the institutional side has also been a wonderful learning opportunity. During my first week of work, I brought home a stack of reading material a few inches high, and it continues to grow. I had the opportunity to have dinner with an investment research representative from Evercore ISI regarding the Bank of Japan, assist the APCM team in organizing client portfolios, and I am currently working on becoming Bloomberg Certified.
Although the first few weeks have been almost entirely new information, I feel as if I am moving down the learning curve and beginning to have a real-world understanding of both the market and APCM. I have enjoyed working for APCM more than any other company. They are a firm that cares for their employees and their clients. Even if you have heard this before, I just want to reiterate that you should never give up on something simply because you are worried you don’t know enough. Time and repetition will take care of that.
Fall 2016 Intern