Last March, at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School career fair, I met a staff member from Baltimore Corps who introduced me to a colleague at the City of Baltimore. After connecting with the person on LinkedIn, I asked for a face-to-face informational interview, and he was glad to share his experience with me. Following our interaction, he guided me to apply for the 2019 Baltimore City Mayoral Fellowship. Through two rounds of interviews with different employees, I eventually secured an internship with the City of Baltimore working for the IT department. The experience has helped me learn that in the United States networking and confidence are crucial for success and growth.
The first time I heard about the fellowship program, I felt that it could be a great opportunity for an international student like me. The fellowship program offered access to different types of employees from various departments to help me practice my networking skills. Moreover, working for the City of Baltimore offered the practical experience that I wanted to put my finance knowledge into practice. Lastly, the fellowship program offered an opportunity to build my resume. Based on these three aspects, I was excited to join this fellowship program.
My major responsibility at Baltimore City of Information & Technology (BCIT) was organizing and analyzing spending data of 2017, 2018, and 2019. I also categorized the unit cost of hardware and software assets and forecasted a five-year budget plan for BCIT. In my courses, I’ve only touched on basic accounting for companies related to balance sheets and income statements. However, applying accounting skills within the context of government budget was a new concept to me, and I got to learn the difference between basic company accounting and budget accounting. Moreover, working in government has given me the chance to immerse myself in an English-speaking environment, which has improved my listening ability and spoken English tremendously. Not to mention, having the opportunity to meet Mayor Young has been an honor.
My first six weeks in the program have been interesting and meaningful. First, after analyzing the data of the past three years and making forecasts for the next 18 months, I feel that budget forecasting is similar to financial valuation. However, the biggest difference between budget forecasting and financial valuation is that there’s no balance sheet, no income statement, and only contract time and lifetime related to hardware and software. Second, every Monday, the 12 fellows from different departments attend lectures provided by different speakers from Baltimore. For example, speakers are from police departments, nonprofit organizations, and Morgan State University. Through these various lectures, I have learned more about Baltimore’s culture and history.
Once, all 12 fellows went to watch a Baltimore Orioles baseball game, which gave me the chance to talk to Mayor Young and take a photo with him. Now that’s a summer opportunity I hadn’t expected!