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Continuing the Journey: MSAF Student Trang Vo Shares Her Experience Participating in the Bryant Stibel Internship Program

Trang Vo with the Bryant Stibel Team
In this second installment of our series, join MSAF student Trang Vo on her journey through the Bryant Stibel internship program as she shares firsthand insights into how it deepened her understanding of investment strategy. The Bryant Stibel internship program is designed to offer students a dynamic and engaging learning environment, meticulously crafted to develop practical skills that complement and enhance classroom learning. Participants, like Trang, bridge theoretical knowledge with real-world application, gaining a comprehensive understanding of investment strategy through interactive classes and compelling presentations before the Bryant Stibel team.

Trang Vo's journey through the Bryant Stibel internship program highlights the power of immersive, experiential learning. Trang's story underscores the importance of integrating academic study with practical application, equipping aspiring finance professionals with the tools and insights needed to excel in a competitive marketplace. Join us as we delve into Trang's experiences and explore how the Bryant Stibel internship program has impacted her career trajectory in finance.

Read Trang’s Interview:

1. How did your participation in the Bryant Stibel Internship program enhance your understanding of investment strategy?

Participating in the Bryant Stibel internship program at Pepperdine Graziadio Business School significantly enhanced my understanding of real-world investment strategy, particularly in Private Equity and Venture Capital. Despite majoring in finance during my undergraduate studies, my familiarity with alternative investments like Private Equity and Venture Capital was limited to fundamental concepts. However, during the program, I gained a comprehensive understanding of these fields through detailed instruction. Professors Davide and Clemens' teachings went beyond theory; we discussed recent events and delved into real-world examples of Private Equity, Venture Capital deals, commodities, and derivatives contracts. Additionally, we were given the chance to put our learning into practice by screening, researching, and presenting our investment idea to the Bryant Stibel firm. This experience not only expanded my knowledge base but also honed my skills in navigating the investment landscapes, equipping me with the confidence to excel in real-world investment.

2. Can you describe a specific project or task that you worked on during the project that contributed to your learning experience?

One project that significantly enriched my learning experience in investment strategy during the internship was the Crystal Capital Partner Article assignment. We were tasked with creating an engaging article suitable for publication on Crystal Capital Partner's website. This opportunity allowed me to delve into a relatively untapped industry: the commercial aerospace industry.

Researching and writing the article afforded invaluable insights into potential investment trends and opportunities that could shape the industry's future. It broadened my understanding of the dynamics within the aerospace sector and helped me design my long-term investment strategies spanning the next 10 to 20 years.

Analyzing the factors influencing the commercial aerospace industry, such as technological advancements and government & private funding helped me identify potential trillion-dollar industry and investment prospects. Since the commercial aerospace industry is relatively new, it was challenging to find data and information from trusted sources. Therefore, crafting the article required thorough research, data analysis, data gathering, and critical thinking skills, all of which are essential and valuable skills I need to make decisions in investment strategy.

3. In what ways did the hands-on experience in the internship program differ from theoretical learning in the classroom, and how did this difference benefit your educational journey?

There's this saying in Vietnamese that sums up my internship experience: "It's easier said than done." While textbooks, class discussions, and lectures provided a foundation, it was the practical application that truly lighted up the complexities of real-world scenarios.

Take the Discounted Cash Flow model as an example, a concept I grasped theoretically in class. Implementing it during the final project was challenging and time-consuming. It wasn't just about crunching numbers; I had to make many assumptions and justify every step. And when we looked at different industries for investment opportunities, like pharmaceuticals with companies like Amphastar, it wasn't just about finances. We had to dive into their whole history, such as pipeline history, pipeline products, patents, and supply chains, to get the full picture.

Moreover, the internship exposed me to the reality of decision-making. In the classroom, decisions often appear straightforward, but in practice, they're imbued with risks and considerations. For instance, selecting project topics took my team weeks of back-and-forth, weighing all the options and considering every angle.

4. What skills or knowledge did you gain that you believe will be most valuable as you transition into the real world of investment and finance? 

During my internship, I learned to think innovatively and outside conventional bounds, a skill that is essential for navigating the world of investment and finance. Professors Davide and Clemens created an environment where challenging oneself and exploring unique ideas were encouraged. For example, during our final presentation project, we were prompted to choose an investment opportunity that was not only intriguing but also niche, something that had never been heard of before. My teammate Stanley and I dedicated two weeks to brainstorming and refining our investment ideas, underscoring the significance of creativity. 

Moreover, my internship experience deepened my appreciation for teamwork. For tasks like DCF valuation, we always consider the worst-case scenarios. The internship class also instilled in me a crucial lesson about readiness for unexpected worst-case scenarios. As Professor Clemens stated, "It could happen anytime." I realized the importance of not solely relying on team members, as circumstances are subject to change. This realization prompted me to anticipate and adapt to unforeseen challenges, ensuring that I am always ready to navigate obstacles independently if required.

5. How did interactions with professionals and mentors within the program shape your perspective on the industry and prepare you for future career opportunities in investment strategy? 

One of the key lessons I learned from Professor Clemens and Davide was the importance of discipline in trading strategy. Their advice resonated beyond trading, emphasizing the significance of focus and dedication in all aspects of life. I appreciate the professors' meticulous planning and the number of guest speakers they arranged for each class session. The array of guest speakers, ranging from industry experts in real estate, venture capital, and biotech, to film, shared invaluable experiences and perspectives that broadened my understanding of the investment world. 

In particular, guest speaker Lance Helfert, a Pepperdine alumnus, left a lasting impact with his inspiring journey. His fund, "15 Equity," managing a select portfolio of 15 stocks, showed the power of simplicity and focus in achieving S&P500-beating results. Additionally, his story of acquiring, renovating, and managing hotels gave me insights and ideas for potential real estate investment in the future. 

Overall, the mentorship and interactions within the Bryant Stibel internship program not only deepened my understanding of investment and finance but also instilled in me a sense of discipline, focus, and inspiration that will shape my future career path in the investment industry.

About the Master of Science in Applied Finance at Pepperdine University 

Pepperdine University's Master of Science in Applied Finance program is a top choice for professionals aiming to gain expertise in finance and investment management. Through rigorous academic training, practical application, and a strong ethical foundation, Pepperdine equips students to excel in their careers while upholding the highest standards of integrity.

Designed for individuals committed to mastering finance, the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School offers unparalleled preparation for leadership roles across the financial sector.