By Silvia Lang ’21
This summer I’m working at WEST, the subsidiary company of the accounting firm WISS. WEST was co-founded by Mark Brenner ’86, an entrepreneur who has successfully built three companies. WEST provides accounting services to small start-up companies and supports their growth through a variety of channels. Working with Mark this summer, I have worked on different aspects of WEST, including accounting, building financial models, and sales. All of these services that WEST provides are important aspects of running start-up companies. Every day in the office, I’m learning something new about entrepreneurship, both from my colleagues and from clients!
When applying for the Whitehead Internship Program, I knew I wanted to be exposed to many different industries and learn very quickly, so the position at WEST naturally became one of my top choices. Through a common friend, I reached out to Shivani Dixit ’20, who interned at WEST last summer. Although I did my research on WEST and read Shivani’s blog post before meeting with her, actually talking to her provided me with much more context of what WEST does and what the work environment is like. Shivani also offered to help me with the application and interview preparation, which eventually helped me get this job. For anyone who’s interested in applying for Whitehead and already has specific companies in mind, I would highly recommend having informational interviews with the Whitehead interns who worked at those companies before!
During the past three weeks, I mostly worked on testing the proprietary dashboard software that WEST is developing. The dashboard helps clients stay on top of their financial situation and easily generate management reports. My job is to communicate with the software developers about issues like number discrepancies and unsatisfactory user experience, so that the developers can improve on the dashboard before releasing it to clients. I am also in charge of making visualizations of financial statements for nine clients, and the visualizations will appear on the dashboard as deliverables directly to the clients. After analyzing the balance sheet and Profit & Loss report, I customize charts for each client that best fit their business. I hope to help WEST release the dashboard in the next month!
In addition, I have had many opportunities to interact with clients in a lot of different industries. I have been a part on-boarding meetings, during which start-up CEOs talk about their stories and visions, and the WEST team would provide strategic suggestions to them. I also helped Mark present the dashboard to clients. Another cool opportunity at WEST is the breakfast series. At every breakfast meeting, two WEST clients present their companies, and then about 20 entrepreneurs at the meeting would give advice to the presenters. The breakfast series is not only a window to the latest developments in different industries, but also a great opportunity to meet entrepreneurs! This past week, I have been working directly with a client on his budget expenses and revenue for the next three years. After doing research on the industry standards and learning about the client’s needs, I’ve been doing a lot of number crunching and have really enjoyed the quantitative side of business!
Working at WEST has been a very rewarding experience, and in the rest of the summer, I hope to continue learning new things and meeting new people!