Numbers isn’t all that matters in finance.
On interviewing in the Chinese medium
“I’m currently an intern at DASCAPITAL, a venture capitalist firm. The interview process was certainly the start of a meaningful learning journey for me. Anticipating the fact that I will be working in China, I knew that I had to at least be able to hold a decent conversation in the Chinese medium with my interviewers. I prepared as much as I can in the best way I knew how — by translating my answers to Chinese for the standard interview questions that I had expected. Additionally, I visited the company’s website to understand more about what the company does and its business models.
Yet the interview was nothing like what I had expected. I was caught-off guard because my interviewer did not really ask the standard set of questions that I had anticipated. Rather, I was quizzed upon the answers I had provided to previous questions. Nevertheless, I did my best but stuttered when it came to using more technical financial terms like the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model which, fun fact, is 现金流量贴现法 in Chinese. So knowing the appropriate technical terms is something one should be prepared for in the interviews!
Aside from that, throughout my interview process I realised I was often asked to explain what I learnt in NUS. The education system in China is very different from what we’re exposed to in Singapore so most interviewers would be interested in how what we learnt in Singapore can value-add to our work in China. Most importantly I think having your own opinions is key; start-ups don’t really give much thought about hearing the ‘right’ answers but rather, they’d like to see you are able to develop your own views.
My internship at Dasbank
I daresay, I’ve been learning quite a lot here so far. My company has two main departments, one overseeing investments and the other being related to financial advisory. I’m currently in the latter and my daily work involves researching and reporting about the financial aspects of various industries and the respective firms that my supervisors are interested in. At times I get to delve into the financial valuation models that we assist our clients with. By understanding their potential growth rates and where their valuations are pegged at, we gain better insights into the amount of funding they may need in order to expand. Through the work I do, I’ve learnt how to be concise in business reporting as well as putting my views across succinctly in the Chinese medium. And of course, producing financial models.
Startup investing in the Chinese market is pretty interesting. The scale of their fundings are much larger here compared to those within the Southeast Asian markets. There is no linear approach to defining the maturity of Chinese markets; much research has to be done to understand the rapid changes that industries go through everyday. Even my supervisors have difficulty understanding some of the markets here!
Besides being exposed to the technical ropes of how a venture capitalist firm operates, I’ve also learnt more about workplace communication and professionalism. For one thing, being able to set the right expectations between you and your supervisors will go a long way in developing fruitful relationships. Through the honest discussions my supervisor and I had, we were able to clear up many of the misconceptions I previously harboured and she too, could also better understand what I wanted out of my internship experience. It’s definitely been great so far and I’m learning new things everyday.
All in all, 6 months is actually a very short period of time so I’d love to tell incoming batches to really do your best to treasure the short period of time you have in Beijing — to learn as much as you can and make the best of your stint in the Chinese capital! Being on NOC also gives you the freedom to try out new things or pick up new skills during your downtime — there’s definitely something for everyone here!”
Jeanie Tay is a Year 3 Business Administration major from NUS and is currently on the NOC Beijing (6 months) programme. She has always been intrigued by how finance and entrepreneurship can be married and hopes to venture into the fintech or venture capital sectors in the future.