My professional experience as an Assistant to the CFO at Association Science Ouverte
In this article, Matisse FOY (ESSEC Business School, Bachelor in Business Administration (BBA), 2019-2023) shares his professional experience as an Assistant to the CFO at Association Science Ouverte.
About the structure
The missions of the Science Ouverte Association are “to open young people to science and science to young people, to fight against a feeling of powerlessness and confinement often too present”. It aims to create a visible and effective structure in Seine-Saint-Denis, capable of arousing scientific vocations and helping young people who are committed to this path.
It offers various activities, especially to high school students: tutoring, science and technology courses, various workshops on 3D graphics, programming, etc.
Logo of Science Ouverte Association
Source: Association Science Ouverte
I was a part of the Finance Department, a critical unit within the organization that was responsible for managing the association’s financial resources. As a district association, our department was made of only two people: the CFO and me.
The Finance Department oversees a wide range of functions, including budgeting, accounting, and financial reporting. It also plays a strategic role in decision-making processes by providing financial analysis to guide the association’s decisions.
Furthermore, the Department works with external stakeholders, such as auditors, as well as private and public funders.
Throughout my internship, I was tasked with various missions to operate and enhance the accounting and financial tools of the Association. Those missions had both short-term, operational objectives, and long-term objectives. Here is what they mainly consisted in:
- Preparation of files for the audit of the accounts
- Improving timesheet maintenance (e.g., adding indicators and summary tables for them to be as ergonomic and easy to use as possible)
- Verification and updating of financial statements, individual funds and association budgets.
Required skills and knowledge
To work in a corporate finance position and be efficient at your job, you will need to acquire many skills:
- Knowledge of financial concepts: During my internship, I was accompanied by the CFO in my learning of specific financial notions related to an association. My previous knowledge of finance and accounting helped understand and assimilate those notions faster.
- Basic knowledge of a spreadsheet like Excel: In most structures, Excel will play a key role in your everyday job. Don’t forget to learn basic Excel skills and shortcuts to save time and make your tasks easier.
- An understanding of the organization’s industry: Each structure has its financial specificities in terms of business model, objectives and regulatory environment. Learning about them as soon as possible will help shape your decision to be most effective.
What I learned
This experience brought me key valuable lessons about professional environment and work ethic. Here are three of them:
- Attention to details: my time in the Finance department taught me how every piece of documentation, and every penny is important. The margin for error is low, and it allowed me to become meticulous is my work.
- Effective communication: clear, concise, and timely communication was vital when communicating with my colleagues and superior to accomplished task I was assigned to. When confronted with a new problem, I did not hesitate to contact relevant persons if I couldn’t find the solution myself.
- Proactivity: I tried to show initiative, anticipate needs, and propose solutions to existing problems that weren’t directly asked by my manager. This helps to create a positive impression and demonstrate your commitment.
Financial concepts related my internship
Financial forecasting refers to the process of estimating the future financial performance of an organization. These forecasts played a crucial role in strategic planning, helping the organization know what they could be able to invest in or not in the months and years to come.
Budgeting allows to estimate revenues and expenditures over a future period. During my internship, I saw how a well-structured budget serves as a roadmap, guiding the association’s financial decisions, and keeping the organization on track financially.
Financial reporting involves the process of producing statements that disclose an organization’s financial status to funders and the government. As part of my role, I helped in the preparation of the 2021 and had to work on financial reports. These reports were critical in understanding the financial health of the association, making informed decisions, and ensuring regulatory compliance.
Why should I be interested in this post?
An experience in the financial department of an association helps apply your theoretical knowledge about finance while taking a step back about its role: concretize the most impactful project by allocating resources, reporting, and optimizing them, to get the most of every euro you inject in the structure’s activities.
As I was working next to the association’s activity rooms, it was really gratifying to see that my work has a concrete influence on the young people the association is helping.
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About the author
The article was written in May 2023 by Matisse FOY (ESSEC Business School, Bachelor in Business Administration (BBA), 2019-2023).