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Applied economics major Haakon Mathiesen’s internship gives him insight into the finance industry

Haakon at Accord Capital.

Pacific encourages Haakon Mathieson ’24, an international student from Oslo, Norway, to pursue both his passions: playing golf year-round and studying applied economics to become a finance industry professional. His Pacific coursework provided Haakon with a strong foundation and a diverse tool set. Over the summer, he secured an internship at Accord Capital to experience working in the finance world hands-on.

How I found my internship

My internship is with a private equity firm called Accord Capital in San Diego. It will last eight weeks. Accord Capital focuses on the small to mid-cap market and companies growing organically.

Basically, I reached out to a couple of my fellow Norwegians who are now working in investment banking in New York City. I was looking at what kind of opportunities they had and what they did to get into that segment in finance. They told me to start doing as much networking as possible and applying anywhere I could find opportunities. As a sophomore with no relevant finance work experience, it was pretty hard, but I was lucky that one of my connections offered me an internship in private equity, which is a great start to my career in finance.

How I prepared for the opportunity

Going into the internship I had mixed feelings. I was very excited to experience the finance industry and private equity because it is something I ultimately want to work in after I graduate from Pacific. However, I was also nervous since the only experience with finance I had was from the classroom. For instance, I have taken financial accounting at Pacific and learned the basics of financial statements, but not how to use it as a tool to look at different investment opportunities.

I obviously learned a lot of hard skills at Pacific, like Microsoft Excel shortcuts, pivot tables and formulas which were a big part of my everyday experience. Understanding how to do research, writing reports and understanding economics at a macro level also helped a lot with comprehending everything I did at Accord.

I already had strong time management skills which I learned through playing golf and traveling a lot during high school. Of course, it has been more challenging at Pacific because when you’re on the golf team and you have 25-plus hours of practice every week, you still have to do all the coursework like other students.

The skill that helped me become a successful intern

I think the ability to ask questions, which is a skill I learned at Pacific in our small class settings, really helped me during the internship. Because Accord is a smaller firm and they do not have a special intern program, I help them on a running basis which gives me a better insight in what they do. I collaborate with the analysts on their projects, and they always take time to answer my questions. This is great for my learning curve!

One of the reasons why I chose Pacific was the small classrooms. Coming from Norway, I thought it cannot get better than having only 20 people in the classroom and the teacher knows you almost personally. So, you can always ask teacher questions if you don’t understand something or if you want to know whether you’re on the right track.

Specific projects I’ve worked on during my internship

I had one portfolio company where I worked closely with the value creation team and the analyst. I downloaded cumulative daily reports and made projections of what our revenue would be for that month and compared it to last month which was then sent to the CEO. Since this company is a young startup, we would constantly look for areas to improve to increase our revenue. This includes research, go-to market strategies and implementing ways to acquire more customers.

We also perform several analyses such as discounted cash flow, comparable company analysis and precedent transactions. To justify the assumptions made in the forecasting, there is a lot of research needed and this is an area Pacific really helped me to become good at.

What I learned through the experience

Because I hope to work in finance and banking, what I gain the most from this internship is probably an insight into the dynamics in the finance industry and how, at least on the private equity side, it works on a day-to-day basis. I’ve done a lot of health care research, so I have a better understanding of the overall health care sector; different investment opportunities, how the different programs work and the overall expected growth in the sector.

I think I got a lot more hands on experience at this internship than what I originally thought I would. What´s cool to think about is that what I did there actually had an impact on the company. I came in with an open mind, I obviously was not entirely sure what I would be working on. However, I got a lot of different exposures to different sectors, sub-sectors and niches which I found extremely rewarding. Pacific has provided me the basic skills of understanding accounting, corporate finance and economics courses. But the internship taught me how to apply those concepts into the real world.

My advice for future Pacific students

I think my tip for those who want to get internships is to reach out to a lot of people and try to understand the different career paths you can take. The more people you talk to, the easier it gets to land an internship.

Learn more about Pacific’s applied economics major

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