Learning by Lending at Align Income Funding

Name: Robert Babich

Year: Junior

Majors: Communications Studies, Economics

Minor: Transportation & Logistics

CFS Program: Business Field Studies

Employer: Align Income Funding

An Income Share Agreement (ISA) allows individuals to receive money in exchange for a percentage of their future income, for a set period of time. It’s similar to a personal loan, but payments, since they are pegged to income, are more flexible and can go all the way to zero if one becomes unemployed. Align Income Share Funding is unique because they are the only company offering ISA’s to consumers, and I have the privilege of working here.

My experience interning at Align has been busy since day one, but I’ve grown closer and closer to my work in the past five weeks—while at the same time learning more about the people and values that drive the company’s growth. Besides giving me hands-on experience with a completely unique business model at a company with a clear vision, the projects and supervisor feedback have been more exciting than I’d expect to find anywhere else in financial services.

One element of Align that made me hesitant to join was how niche it is within the finance and alternative lending industries—it is the only company offering ISA’s to the consumer market. As a startup, my concern was that it wouldn’t give me exposure to more traditional skills that I’d need for a career in finance. I quickly learned that this wasn’t the case, and that the financial-startup structure provides a number of unique benefits to students looking for experience in financial services. With each task and project that I complete, the feedback is responsive and clear: when something’s working well it can be implemented right away, when it isn’t you hear about it quickly.

This extends to personal or self-assigned projects—as long as there is sound logic behind it, there is generally more room to work on highly individualized tasks that would never be accessible at an internship at a bulge bracket bank, for example. The small team, a friendly office, and unique challenges all make the experience stand out as one of a kind. Beyond that, the challenges that the company experiences because of its status as a startup as well as the highly unique challenges of its product only augment the distinct experience that this internship is providing.

Working behind the scenes at a company that is so far outside the norm for the alternative lending industry (an industry whose public image is represented by the likes of payday lenders and the occasional peer-to-peer platform), it is refreshing to see pro-customer values exercised in every aspect of what they do. Align makes investments in individuals—actual investments that have a tangible, positive impact on people’s lives. To contribute to this work is an amazing experience as well as deep exposure to complex financial modeling, exposure I can’t imagine finding anywhere else.