jj kaplanl

photo courtesy of JJ Kaplan


Today we talk with JJ Kaplan, a junior double majoring in Economics and Finance and a part of the JUMP program! JJ has had a lot of experience with internships - while also balancing his basketball career at UAH. Read more to learn about JJ’s experiences.


1. Where are you from originally, and what brought you to UAH?

I am from Huntsville, Alabama. Basketball and great academics were the sole reasons that brought me to UAH.


2. What made you pursue a double major in Economics and Finance?

In high school I took an economics course and was interested with it right away. I knew that it would help me a lot while in the business world. Then the reason I added the finance major was because I wanted to get into stocks as well, and if I had the knowledge of both a finance and economics major it would help me become successful in whatever I wanted.


3. How has balancing a double major and being a student athlete on the basketball team been?

At first it was hard, and I did not think it was possible. Then I realized I was not managing my time as efficiently as possible. My days consist of weights, class, practice, class again, then on court workouts. Between those I have to find time to eat, study, and do homework. Yes, there is time to do all of those things, but the hard part is having the energy to do them and making sure I am getting enough sleep every night.


4. What advice can you give on the importance of time management?

I would need to lay out my day according to my basketball schedule and classes. My day revolves around school and basketball. The two things that help me manage my time are planning ahead and putting a time limit on which I am going to do each activity. There is more time in the day then people think. Everybody gets the same 24 hours a day, the difference is what certain people do with it. Time management is important if anyone wants to be successful, especially when the student does not have a lot of time to spare.


5. So, you’ve interned at several companies. What have you learned about the importance of internships for a career?

Internships are important for a career because first and foremost it tells the intern if they will even like the job. I learned in one of my internships that I could not even do the job for more than a year. Secondly, it lets the student learn how to work with people that are either in different age groups or even different countries. All our lives we are used to working with people close to our age because of school keeping us close together. Lastly, it just gives us a chance to get our name out there and see what Corporate America is really about. Companies see internships on a resume and love that the student is attempting to put themselves in a spot to be successful.


6. You interned at Hexagon PPM as a Financial Analyst. What was this experience like?

Hexagon PPM was awesome. Each day I would work with the same people that I truly enjoyed working with. They respected what I had to say and let me sit in on some meetings for what they were going to do next for the company. I got to talk to people from different countries around the world. Hexagon is a big company, so I was shocked when I got to work with some executives inside the company. It was a great learning experience all around whether it had been how to interact with people, how to schedule my day around tasks and meetings, and what to expect when I enter Corporate America.


7. What kind of responsibilities did you hold at your internship with Hexagon PPM?

I got to work a lot with Excel. If you are a business major I HIGHLY recommend getting proficient in Excel. In Excel they would let me make pivot table for our financial forecasting. I was there for the summer so I got the chance to forecast beginning and end of Q2 and the beginning of Q3. Other responsibilities I had were to configure Hexagon’s cost runs, calculate payback periods and profit & loss, and depreciation.


8. How would you describe the workload of holding an internship and attending classes, while also being a student athlete?

The workload of holding an internship, attending classes, and being a student athlete is challenging, but rewarding. It is honestly crazy what can happen when we set our minds to something. It is not easy at all, but I know after all this is said and done I will be happy with the decisions I have made in college. It takes no skill to have a great work ethic.


9. What are some ways you have applied what you learn in class and the court to the work you perform in an internship?

Basketball has helped me in my internships beyond what I can learn in class. Basketball has helped me so much because it has taught me how to work for something I really want, how to take criticism and turn it into productive work, the discipline of sticking to a schedule and not being late to anything, and finally how to work with others to make the whole team/company successful. Now, class has given me the knowledge to accomplish the things they may want me to accomplish. For instance, payback periods, depreciation, and profit & loss calculations. But, for the most part I think being a student athlete will set me apart in a positive way from others in Corporate America. 


10. What is the most significant skill you have learned while interning?

It is a tie between two. I think the most important skills I have learned while interning are how to prioritize tasks in the right order and how to be patient. Prioritizing tasks in an internship is essential. There are multiple tasks given to an intern by different people everyday. Of course each person wants it done ASAP, but it is your job to figure out which one needs to be done first. Sometimes an intern has to stop doing tasks they are currently doing and work on the task given to them right then. Being patient is huge when starting out. All college kids come out wanting to earn 6 figures and have a meaningful job, but that is not how it always starts. Most students have to stick it out doing a job that seems meaningless. Students will miss the opportunity of being great just because they have to be in the trenches for a couple years. Learn how to be patient and you will prevail in the end.


Thanks to JJ for taking the time to share his advice and experiences. You can cheer him on the court this season--check out the Men's Basketball schedule here.