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From Intern to Financial Analyst

UMD student Maggie Zheng
May 2, 2019

Maggie Zheng had a very memorable internship opportunity that set the trajectory for her post-graduate career.

Edina native Maggie Zheng, a senior majoring in economics, began looking for internships at the beginning of her junior year for the following summer. Maggie was looking for internships – specifically business analyst – because she was, “hoping to find an internship that wasn't specific to any major, such as finance, accounting, or marketing. Since business analyst seemed like a broad role, and since I've always thought of economics as a broad major that covers a lot of different components of business, I thought I would be suited for such a position.”

During her search, she found it difficult to find that position within companies that interested her, so she decided to expand her search to economics and finance related roles. “That’s when SuperValu’s finance and accounting internship popped up. Although I was neither a finance or accounting major, I received encouragement from a family member to apply. And after doing some research on the company, I discovered that many of their values lined up with mine. That’s when I knew that SuperValu would be a great company for me to get my first real corporate experience.”

UMD student Maggie Zheng

SuperValu, now known as UNFI, is a Fortune 500 wholesaler and retailer of grocery products. They are the leading company in the industry with over 3,000 owned, franchised, and affiliated stores across the country. The organization places an emphasis on diversity and inclusion, are committed to being a sustainable company, as well as giving back to their community, all values that align with Maggie’s.

Although Maggie felt confident walking out of her interview with the company, she was still surprised when she received the news that she secured the internship. “I had interviewed on a Tuesday and by Wednesday night I received the call about the good news. It was a really fast turn around.” Thrilled, she was still nervous. “There was a part of me that was really nervous because it was a big next step for me, but I was also excited because I was ready for the hands-on experience.”

She was worried she would be tasked with something related to finance or accounting since most of her classes were concentrated in economics.

“This worry was definitely intensified on my first day because all the other interns were either a finance and/or accounting majors,” she says. But as her internship continued, Maggie realized that “all those worries were baseless because so much of what I had to do, I learned on the job.” She doubted herself, but took a risk and realized that she was capable all along.

On the Job

Throughout her time at SuperValu, Maggie learned strong technical skills, as well as a lot of important soft skills that are applicable to a myriad of fields.

Maggie explains, “I’ve become much more proficient in Microsoft Excel and Hyperion Essbase, as they were programs that I used on a daily basis to pull data and build charts for my project.” 

During her internship, she learned new writing skills when she was creating monthly and quarterly financial reports for the executive team. “When I wrote financial reports, I needed to be as concise as possible, and that’s completely different than when I write for my classes. Of all the information and data I had to analyze, I had to select the relevant and important ones to include in the report.”

Interning with SuperValu was an amazing learning opportunity for Maggie.

“The people and the opportunities presented to me were definitely the best part of interning with SuperValu. They made sure that all the interns were presented with opportunities to learn and really integrated us into the everyday work at the office. All my co-workers were extremely welcoming and were happy to help and guide me,” she explains.

UMD student Maggie Zheng standing in front of a private jet with three coworkers

She was able to, “shadow a senior financial analyst for a day, tour their wholesale factories, learn about their private brands, and connect with employees from different departments.” Maggie participated in SuperValu’s “Lunch & Learn” initiative that gives interns the chance to, “have lunch together with someone from the company and we had the chance to learn about their career and ask questions.” Maggie met with the chief financial officer, as well as the executive directors of retail and wholesale.

A very memorable moment for her, at her internship, was when she was able to, “fly out to California with my manager, co-workers, and several other executive directors to learn from competing businesses and about their e-commerce model.”

“SuperValu truly has an amazing internship program,” she emphasized.

Her internship with SuperValu enhanced her time management, attention-to-detail, and interpersonal communication skills as well.

Maggie is thankful for how the Labovitz School of Business (LSBE) prepared her for her internship. “With business communications, I learned how to write and communicate professionally. Some of the material taught in corporate finance and productions & operations management was also brought up in my project, so it was reassuring to have prior knowledge I could utilize to help me. Overall, the professors here at LSBE do an amazing job with teaching and preparing their students for real-world experiences.”

Looking Ahead

Maggie has a few words of advice to offer students who are looking for internship opportunities.

“The biggest advice I have for them would be just to apply for it, even if you’re nervous or think that you’re not qualified. In the end, there is absolutely no harm in applying. Even if you interview and don’t get the internship, you’ve gained valuable experience through interviewing.

She adds, “College goes by too quickly and is too short for you to have 'what ifs.' You’ll never know what can happen until you decide to take the first step!”

Maggie was presented with an incredible opportunity and she is so thankful for all that it has taught her.

“I walked into this internship extremely nervous and doubtful, but 10 weeks later, I had walked out feeling more confident than ever in my abilities to succeed in the field of finance. Through this internship, I was able to get a true understanding of this field, and was able to discover my new passion for finance. And although I have current plans to work in finance, I definitely see myself going back to my economics roots in the future.” 

Learn more about LSBE's economics program.