#ALUInternDiary: Discovering Silicon Valley and the Investment World

Houcem Khlifi is from Tunisia and is currently interning with Omidyar Network Services LLC in Redwood city, Silicon Valley. He speaks with student writer Carryl Masibo about his experience so far.

What is your role at Omidyar?
Omidyar Network (ON) is a philanthropic investment firm that invests in NGOs and for profit organisations that have great potential to create an impact in the lives of individual like ALU.

I’m working with the Human Capital Team for the first half of my internship but I’ve had the chance to meet people from other departments and initiatives such as Financial Inclusion, Finance, Marketing and Communications, Intellectual Property and Governance and Citizen Engagement. Part of my internship plan is to be involved in other projects with them.

What project are you currently working on?
I just finished my first project and it was a great experience. My first project was to draft an investment recommendation for ON about whether it should invest in a certain company or not. I looked at how much it should invest and supported my recommendations with different reasons. I spent the first part of the project understanding the organisation’s mission, vision and value proposition. Then, I dived deeper into the financial statements and past records of this company to get a sense of how it is performing financially.

How has your internship been so far? Any highlights or lowlights?
Highlight: Everyone in the office is welcoming and they really make you feel like you are part of the organisation. People have shared their experiences and are open to hearing our stories about how we heard about ALU and our first year experience.

Lowlight: During our first few days Tinashe (another ALU student) and I got lost several times in the middle of Silicon Valley. We literally didn’t know where to go and kept acting like we knew the place. On the first day at work, we spent two hours trying to find our housing after we left the office. It’s 20 minutes away. We couldn’t use google maps since we hadn’t yet acquired US sim cards and as a result had no internet as well.

What is the biggest lesson you have learnt?
The biggest lesson that I have learnt so far is that I should not hesitate to ask for information from my colleagues. Sometimes I would get stuck because of lack of data but when I stepped up and asked for it, people were very willing to help me.

What do you wish you had known before?
I wish that I knew better the place, because there is a lot to explore here in so little time.

What do you miss the most about school?
I miss having people who really care about me, who support me in my lows and who are there for me whenever I need anything. I would actually like to take this opportunity to thank everyone of them for their continuous support.

What do you hope to achieve at the end of this internship?
I want to leverage my knowledge and experience within the investment sector and especially impact investing because I strongly believe that a good investment can create a social impact but also can generate a financial return for its long-term sustainability.

What would you like to tell the new cohort as they start their ALU journey?
Have a plan and a vision. Don’t be there just for the sake of being present. Life is more than that, it is about achieving your goals, that’s the real pleasure for me.

Finish this sentence: The working world is …
The working world is not as complicated as I thought. Professionals are just human.

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