Interning at Sharesies: a Q&A with Sasa

For the last few months, we’ve been lucky enough to have Sasa Tapelu join the team as our Summer Finance & Operations Intern! With his internship now coming to an end, we thought we’d catch up with him to share a little more about his experience at Sharesies.

What did you get up to as part of your time at Sharesies?

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I thought my first day at Sharesies was going to be chill, but within an hour of starting, I was straight into it! I went through AML training, which teaches you about anti-money laundering. And before I knew it, I was doing the daily customer deposits and withdrawals—executing orders for customers and settling the funds. Every day I write a market update for the team, where I share what’s been happening in the markets overnight to try predict what the share prices are going to do. Most days it’s been going up, but during November and December prices were going down a bit due to the trade wars between the US and China!

Paul Williams (Sharesies’ CFO) has been mentoring me with some accounting work. I’ve helped him prepare the month-end reports, which looks at how Sharesies as a business has operated that month compared to the financial forecasts. There’s been heaps I’ve learnt outside of my job description too—like learning how to deal with customers, creating new processes, and running an investing workshop for the Sharesies team. I also sat in some big meetings with the NZX...that was interesting!

Sharesies on the ferry to Days Bay

Sharesies on the ferry to Days Bay

How did you find the experience?

It was awesome! I would totally recommend it to anyone else who wants to work at a company like Sharesies. Working here feels like you’re working with a group of friends—everyone’s on the same level, everyone’s equal. It’s cool to learn from such great professionals.

What was the biggest thing you learnt?

The number one thing I learnt is that you can never produce the best work on your own—it only happens when everyone chips in and helps out. I also learnt that any question is worth asking, even if it seems simple. Someone will always answer your question and give you good advice on a problem you have. It’s really valuable to have lots of different thoughts and inputs from people!

Lunchtime plunge into the Wellington harbour

Lunchtime plunge into the Wellington harbour

At Sharesies, we always find time to research about things. Even if you don’t know about something to begin with, we take the time to learn and then produce awesome stuff from it. So I’ve learnt a lot about investing while I’ve been here. Before coming to Sharesies, I thought you had to have at least $10,000 to start investing. Now I know that investing is for everyone. Even $5 or $10 a week counts. I used to be really interested in day-trading and thought that’s where you’d make money—investing heaps all at once, guessing what’s going to happen, and then selling your investments the next day. But I’ve learnt that playing the long-game is actually the way to go. You get better returns putting in affordable amounts over a long time—and a ‘long time’ doesn’t necessarily mean 50 years, it could mean 2 or 5.

What was the biggest challenge?

Sharesies was my first ever office job, so I thought that was going to be a challenge. Before I started, I thought everyone was going to be wearing suits and ties. But it was so fun that after a week or so, I wondered “Is this even an office job?”. Usually in movies you see people stressed and hating their jobs, but here it’s really comfortable. I don’t feel like I’m working for anyone—I feel like I’m working for myself. We work hard, but we know how to have fun too, like playing hacky sack in the office and going for a swim at lunchtime. It’s awesome you can be yourself here.

But it’s also been a big challenge keeping up with Sharesies! Sharesies works really fast and hard. I didn’t want to slow the team down—but everyone just helps out where they can, so that made me feel a lot better. I also had to get used to all the systems. There are so many deposits and orders that come through every day—I didn’t want to press the wrong button and screw up thousands of people’s orders!

Leighton and Sasa at Share Club

Leighton and Sasa at Share Club

What’s your advice for others who are keen to do an internship?

Take every opportunity you can get! You never know if that opportunity will come back again, so take it—you can at least say you tried, rather than wondering what it was going to be like. Listen to all the advice that your mentors give you, and keep asking questions. When you learn something, don’t have the mindset of “I’ve learnt it, I don’t need to learn anything more”. You should always be hungry to learn more.

Step outside your comfort zone and try everything, even if you’re not comfortable. When I started my internship, I was hesitant to go to business meetings because I didn’t know if I was going to fit in. I didn’t know if I was meant to be there or not, but I decided to sit in and see what it was actually like so I could learn how meetings play out. I actually never expected that I’d work in an office, but I stepped out of my comfort zone to test it out—and it really wasn’t as bad as everyone says it is!

Thanks Sasa! It’s been epic having you join us this summer—we’ll miss you!