Alphaville Internship by Joshua Benson

Friday 3 July 2009

Although the internship was only for a short period - just two weeks, the brief insight into how the Financial Times operates has provided me with invaluable experience. I arrived at the FT as a first year economics student with a desire to acquire a greater depth of knowledge about the current economic climate. Working on the Alphaville desk was perfect for this. Although my work did not directly link to the global downturn, the continuous flow of laconic articles that filtered through the Alphaville blog everyday, served me with all the information I needed in order to gain a fuller understanding of the current situation.

In terms of my own work, I undertook some research into the sudden influx of Russian IPOs that occurred before the economic decline. This involved gathering a number of initial price offering prospectus documents from various Russian companies. There had been a suggestion that the London Stock Exchange had shown a degree of leniency to some of these companies when granting their listing. The project provided me with the chance to e-mail or speak the companies directly or, if that failed, contact the brokers or FSA

To induce reader discussion, these articles were posted up on the Alphaville Long Room. This was done in an attempt to encourage readers to post their own views, possibly providing us with some further acumen into the dealings of Russian IPOs, which could possibly help with our research.

This task provided me with an introduction to a very interesting area of economics I had never touched on before. Constantly being spoon fed economic theories for an education – not to say these aren’t incredibly important as a basis for any career in the field, it came as a welcome break to get the opportunity to see ‘economics in action’.

Other than the obvious delight of being able to contribute to the Alphaville site, one other personal highlight included witnessing the Alphaville team claim a ‘scoop’ in the final week. The sudden injection of adrenalin around the area was fascinating to observe especially in what had been an apparently quiet week. The story expanded beyond the Alphaville desk and was my first experience of seeing the different FT departments coming together to report the story. Prior to that I was surprised and amazed how separate each department was. However this was clearly a beneficial factor as the organisational aspect of the company was unmistakable.

Undecided as to which direction my career will follow once I graduate, the FT internship has certainly opened my eyes to the possibility of journalism, especially in the financial sector. Nonetheless, wherever it leads there is no doubt that the two weeks working on the Alphaville desk have been priceless and I am sure the experience will provide a fantastic asset in the future.


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