With summer quickly drawing to a close, many of this year’s summer interns are finishing up and heading back to school for the fall semester. Reflecting on our 2018 Summer Internship Program, we were fortunate to welcome a class of six interns in four different departments: wealth advisory, retirement plan advisory, investment operations, and marketing & communications.
At Wealthspire Advisors, we believe it’s important to cultivate the next generation of wealth management talent and view our internship program as one way of doing just that. “The lack of young advisors coming into the wealth management industry is in part due to lack of awareness,” says Mike LaMena, Wealthspire Advisors’ CEO. “Our internship program gives college students exposure to our industry and the many different roles and opportunities within it. It also helps our firm attract young talent, which we believe is helpful in building a diverse team of advisors well positioned to serve a broader set of clients in the future.”
Before our interns departed, we spoke with them about their time at Wealthspire Advisors to get their impressions and see what they learned. A few common themes emerged:
The Office Environment is Different from the Classroom Environment
In discussing the office environment with our interns, we heard several versions of ‘I never learned about this in class.’ What they learned varied by department, for instance Tom Sand, interning with our Investment Operations team, noticed that by the end of the summer he was able to pull key data from our Tamarac CRM database, a skill only honed by experience doing daily work with the operations team. Olivia Hsu, Libby Friday, and Jack Keating, all working with the Wealth Advisory team, spent time updating or creating financial plans for our clients and learned quickly that each client’s situation is different, with no clear-cut formula for creating one plan versus another. Finally, Kayla Pavela worked with the Retirement Plan Advisory team, and noticed that the collaborative environment helped her to “develop interpersonal skills through constant interaction”.
While the projects handled by interns in various departments differed in scope, our interns noticed that, while on the job, research and learning were professional skills in their own right. As Jack Keating said, “In class, they expect you to recall everything in a quiz. In real life, what you need to know is endless, so you have to look things up constantly. Research is a skill you keep developing.”
An Internship Might Change Future Plans
Every job has aspects that might surprise you when you become immersed in the actual work. We asked our intern class what was unexpected about their roles, and the interns told us that they were surprised how wide the realm of possibilities was for their job functions. Emily Kurisky came to the marketing & communications internship with a background in writing and public relations and was pleasantly surprised by how much she enjoyed working on client events. In the end, she thought her new appreciation for event support could be a potential area of professional interest.
The advice we gave to all our interns was to keep track of every day-to-day task they handled, so they could update their resumés accordingly. It was amazing to see how many helpful skills and experiences they gained in such a short period of time.
Everyday Tasks Feel Important When They are Tied to a Mission
By the end of the summer, we think all the interns noticed something that we’ve all felt after working at Wealthspire Advisors: feeling closely connected to the mission of helping our clients brings purpose and motivation to any task. “I don’t know what I expected, but this was far more meaningful than I thought it would be. You could see that you were improving something for a client, and if not the client, then the team around you”, Jack Keating told us. And while finding a job in which the mission inspires you is important for anyone, we’re thrilled our interns discovered that on their own.
By the conclusion of the 2018 program, we feel like our interns learned a lot about the collaborative and supportive culture our team works hard to instill at Wealthspire Advisors. “I let the intern class know that they made an impact on our company while they were here, taking on substantial responsibilities and lifting tasks from advisors,” added Jenn Moss, one of the program’s internal coordinators. We hope they take away not only the value of what we do for clients every day, but the value of the internship in shaping their future career aspirations.
Special thanks to our intern program coordinators for their time and support through this program: Brian Powers, Myka Koenen, Jenn Moss, and Karl Stiegmann.