Student Spotlight: Aaron Birenbaum

AaronAaron Birenbaum

Position: Corporate Development Summer Analyst

Majors: BHP, Plan II Honors, Finance

Company: Molex, Chicago, Illinois

Topics: Finance, M&A, Corporate Development

Aaron Birenbaum is a fourth-year Business Honors, Plan II Honors, and Finance major. This summer, he interned at Molex in Chicago as a Corporate Development Summer Analyst. “I worked for my company’s mergers and acquisitions group, so most of my job centered around understanding potential targets for my company to acquire. My time was mainly split between researching targets by reading through their earnings reports and market research reports, using Excel to create models with numbers that reflect my research-based hypothesis, and creating slide decks that explain my valuation model as well as qualitative factors that make the target valuable to acquire,” says Birenbaum. “I learned how to research companies, which I never thought would be an important skill. Reading a company’s earnings reports can be intimidating, and it takes practices to pick out the important information. I learned how to quickly create Excel models that serve as a good ‘gut check’ for how you think a company will perform. Additionally, I became much more skilled at creating slide decks, which is more difficult than it sounds.”

Birenbaum’s path to landing his internship was lengthy, but he was well-prepared for it. “The road to my internship was pretty standard, albeit on the long side,” says Birenbaum. “I had a phone interview, Skype interview, and on-site interview in Chicago before receiving my offer. To prepare for my interviews, I studied finance questions commonly found in investment banking interviews and researched potential stocks I would consider buying. Studying turned out to be helpful because, for my second round and much of my third round, the interviewer spent the entire time asking me various valuation questions and principles I learned from Finance 357H.”

Additionally, Birenbaum credits the Business Honors Program and his extracurricular activities with helping to prepare him for his internship. “BHP gave me a lot of the background knowledge I needed to perform my job. While every company has a different way of doing things and a different culture, it helps to have that strong business sense built up though BHP classes to ensure I’m never completely out of my comfort zone. For my job specifically, that background helped me understand the intricacies of a valuation target and how I can accurately reflect those details in my models,” says Birenbaum. “There are two major extracurriculars where I focus my time are Undergraduate Business Council and the UT Student Government Supreme Court. These organizations have helped me understand how I should logically approach problems, breaking them down in ways that make the overall problem easier to tackle.

Set to graduate in the spring, Birenbaum’s advice to younger students is to use the resources at their disposal, especially upperclassmen. “I think younger students too often shy away from asking older students about their job experiences, which is kind of a shame. Underclassmen should know that upperclassmen are happy to explain what they thought about their general career path of their specific companies’ cultures and co-workers. This is especially true in BHP where students work so hard to help each other. So, my advice for students, particularly freshmen, is to not feel nervous about asking for advice,” says Birenbaum. “Additionally, really think hard about why you want to pursue a certain career. People are often unhappy because they chose the wrong career path after being pushed into it by family and friends. You should focus on what you want out of life. “