Senior Internship Interview: Vivian Jou

Elizabeth Lee

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Vivian Jou, an ABF (Academy for Business and Finance) senior at Bergen County Academies, currently interns at the commercial lending department at Columbia Bank Headquarters in Fair Lawn.

Academy Chronicle: Why and how did you choose to do this internship?

Vivian:  I was introduced to the Columbia Bank internship through Olivia Lee, a former ABF student who is one year above me.  She had worked in the data analysis department during her senior year and told me that it was a great learning experience for her.  It also seemed like a perfect fit for me because I had wanted to find an internship related to business.


AC: What was the application process like? Was it competitive? Do you know many students applied for the internship?

Vivian: The application process was pretty straightforward.  I sent in my resume and cover letter and waited for a reply.  What complicated the process was the fact that I was out of the country in July– the month they began interviews– because I was participating in a volunteer program in Taiwan.  However, Columbia Bank was very accommodating and we had the interview in August after I had recovered from the jet lag.


AC: Could you describe a typical workday? How many hours do you work in a typical day?

Vivian:  I typically work from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with an hour-long lunch period in between.  I arrive at around 8:30 a.m., get myself settled in, and check in with my mentor at 9:00 a.m.  I work on my assigned project until 12:00 p.m., which is when I take my lunch break. After lunch I continue working and I meet with my mentor at 4:00 p.m. so that I can get advice on how I’m progressing.   


AC: What skills are necessary to do this internship?

Vivian: For this internship I think you need to be familiar with how to handle a large amount of data.  These days, I look at many financial statements and organize different loan data into financial reports. Also, being well-versed in all of the Microsoft Office software, especially Excel, is pretty important.


AC: What’s the best part of your internship?

Vivian: The best part about my internship is how food is so accessible!  It seems like people bring in food every day and just a couple weeks ago, we had a huge bagel breakfast.  Also, my getting my lunch is really convenient; I can either go to the cafeteria downstairs or the Fair Lawn Promenade, which is about a 3-5 minute walk away. It has restaurants like Qdoba and Starbucks.  


AC: Are there any negatives to your job?

Vivian: There really isn’t any negative I can think of except for the possible weight gain! Luckily, my internship is also situated near a gym.


AC: How would you describe the culture in your workspace?

Vivian:  The people are very friendly here.  Every Wednesday morning, I exchange greetings with dozens of people on my way to getting coffee.  Everyone is very willing to talk to you and help you with any problems you might be having trouble with.  


AC: Are there any big projects coming up?

Vivian: I’m not currently aware of any culmination projects. Right now, I’m still working on the financial reports for a future presentation.  Hopefully I’ll be done by the holidays so that I can get started on the two other big projects my mentor has in mind!


AC: From your experiences at your internship, would you like to pursue a career in a similar field?

Vivian: I definitely think I want to pursue a career in something similar to what I’m doing right now.  I feel like Columbia Bank is a great way for me to apply my business knowledge and figure out what I want to be.