Expanding his options

Internship provides opportunity for big-city life


Fall 2010

Just a month and a half after taking his final exams, Calvin junior Ryan Van Baren was working in the U.S. third-largest city at the largest exchange of listed options in the world. The 21-year-old accounting major was a summer intern at the Chicago Board Options Exchange. He worked as an auditor.

“You’re basically looking at other people’s work and making sure that the proper controls are in place, that the proper people are authorizing and viewing things,” Van Baren said. “It’s kind of like being a detective.”

He performed an inhouse audit of the tradematching system in the trading operations division. Van Baren also audited a formerly private company that just went public. “We’re basically looking over financial statements and making sure everything’s been set up correctly,” he said of the work this summer. “It is nice to find things, but, typically, you just find some minor, minor improvements. You’re trying to improve the company.”

Van Baren, an active member of Calvin Business Forum, liked being on the inside of such a big financial operation. “I love looking at businesses and how things work,” he said. “My lunchroom overlooks the trading floor, so you can watch what’s going on.” The atmosphere at the exchange is a lot less formal than he had expected: “For how big of a company it is and how serious I expected things to be, I was really relieved to find out that people here are really friendly,” he said.

Van Baren grew up in the Chicago suburb of Crete, Ill., and he likes being in the big city: “You go downtown. Everyone’s rushing to work. There are trains going overhead,” he said. “It’s just a different atmosphere.” He also enjoyed the free concerts in Millennium Park and checking out Navy Pier and other local attractions.

“Not all of our students want to go to work for a big company in a big city … but for those for whom God may call int hat direction, it’s good to know those doors are open,” said Calvin business professor Leonard Van Drunen. An internship like Van Baren’s broadens a student’s vocational horizon, he said. “It shows him the possibilities of what he could do.”

Van Baren, who said he landed his internship through basic networking (he sent a resume and cover letter to a friend of a friend), has a year to go at Calvin before he lands in the job market. He’s feeling a little better prepared for that. “I’m sure I don’t know everything about auditing … but I think that learning about how to work in a business environment really prepares you—and I think employers like that.”