I had the privilege to sit down with one of our dedicated and hardworking volunteers and just talk to him about who he is and how his experiences have been here at Business Impact NW. His name is Edwin Singh. He is currently a senior finishing up his finance undergraduate program in University of Washington. He is looking forward to taking a sweet break after receiving his Bachelor’s Degree by traveling to continents such as Europe or Australia. He is very passionate about helping people and broadening his horizon being that he used to volunteer for King County Library System, and at the moment, he is working for Microsoft and assisting our loan department.
Below is my conversation with Edwin:
Interview edited for clarity
Tell me about yourself.
I am a senior in University of Washington (UW), finance major, and trying to find a job.
I also do user research for Microsoft, so I do data collection. People run interactive studies on these data afterwards.
Did you grow up here in Seattle?
I was raised up down in Kent, but it is close enough to Seattle.
How has it been studying in UW?
It is a really big school but it is easy to find and make friends. You just have to find your rhythm I guess, figure out what you like to do, and where you like to go.
Why did you choose to take a finance major?
I was really interested in how stocks and money markets work, just like the whole financial aspect of how businesses work and how they take on money.
What do you see yourself doing after college?
Hopefully I graduate. I am thinking about taking a little break and just exploring and traveling a little bit and coming back and finding a real job. Probably an analyst type role or maybe advising, I’m not too sure yet.
Where would you like to travel to?
Europe or Australia.
How did you find out about Business Impact NW?
Through UW Husky jobs.
Why did you decide to do volunteering in Business Impact NW?
I thought it was a good way to help small businesses, growing businesses. I wanted to see how small businesses work because mostly in classes, you learn about big companies or large-scale businesses. Being a volunteer here, I have recognized different aspects of small businesses and how it is hard for them to make it through and keep the push going. Business Impact responds to this reality through their classes and the loans that they give out.
Did you volunteer anywhere else before Business Impact NW?
I used to do volunteer work for the King County Library System. I was a tutor there for elementary school kids up to high school kids. I would tutor them on some weekdays and some weekends. If they needed help with school work, I would help them out.
What are your projects in Business Impact NW?
Lately I have been analyzing risk ratings on all (or mostly all) the loans that we have out on companies. I have to go through and look at the financials of companies and the basic information of the businesses. For example, after checking the financials and the basic information of a business, I put it down and see what the overall risk rating for the actual loan is to a specific point in time and see how it is holding up against other loans that we have out. I also assess what the likeliness is of the business owners fulfilling all the payments on their loans, if some loans have deferred certain obligations, or if they will keep paying back their loans.
It is kind of like a story of how businesses are running, what they are doing, and how they choose to go about taking on debt. It shows how they try to grow or expand. You go through each company’s financials, and it is almost like seeing how they are making different choices and in the process, they see what works out and what does not. I have encountered some companies that have had their loans out for a while and they are not really necessarily paying them all back. In comparison, other companies pay their loans back on time so they can take on a lot more debt. It shows that they are growing, punching away, and they know what they are doing. It is just different ways to see how businesses operate.
Do you enjoy your volunteer work in Business Impact NW?
It is work, I am used to doing it after a couple months of volunteering here. But I am excited about analyzing the risk ratings which I had just begun doing recently.
It was kind of daunting for a while coming in—there were at least 200 loans that I had look at. It was intense.
What kind of work do you want to do after college?
I would like a challenge, or perhaps not the exact same task every time. Different scenarios or at least a lot of people to work with might be good.
Did you ever consider opening a business? Or is that something you would consider doing in the future?
I have considered of maybe opening a food truck because it is really popular. I think it would be fun to own a food truck one day. But that is just like on the backend of everything.
What kind of food would you serve?
Probably Islander food.
Did you get to attend any of Business Impact NW’s classes?
I attended one when I started. I think it was a Launch & Grow, it was specifically aimed at women.
What did you remember learning?
It was more tailored to the businesses that were there, like finding your niche market and expanding on that, making sure that you know what you want to market towards and you are growing in the right direction.
How has your experience been here?
Everyone is really nice and really helpful. John is really willing to support and really accommodating to my changing schedule.