One of the best things about being a successful financial professional is finding ways that you can give back. This doesn’t only mean to your local community, but also to your own industry. One of the ways to do that, while also helping out your own team, is by setting up an internship in your practice. Large companies often have expansive internship programs, and while a small business may not have immediate connections to universities, an intern could still be a great addition to your office. It may be that you’ve never considered the benefits of an intern, or that you’ve considered it but you’re not sure how to get started. Here are some starting points for you.

  1. Figure out who you need: An intern is not just a part-time employee. Consider what sort of employment status you’re looking for, whether it’s part-time for two months during the school year or full-time for the summer. Also consider what sort of candidates you’re looking for. There are many financial paths for college students, and considering the fields and education they’ve had access to will determine how good a fit they may be for your own office. You will also need to consider salary rates that you’ll offer, which could vary depending on how much education they’ve had and what they will be doing in your office. From this, you can create a profile of your ideal candidate, listing out for yourself what skills they should have, what responsibilities they’ll take on while working with you, and the type of cultural fit you’re looking for, as they’ll be a member of your team while they’re in your office.
  2. Write the job description: It’s important to be clear when creating a job description, which will help both you and potential candidates ensure the decision is the right one. The description should include information about the role the intern will be filling, what experience and skills are required, and what responsibilities they’ll be tasked with. Don’t be afraid to hire candidates without experience; the lack of experience doesn’t mean they aren’t good workers and good students who could excel in the right situation. Everyone has to start somewhere, after all. Candidates also appreciate further information, such as the salary range and the name of whomever they’ll be working with during the hiring process. Details about your own business, including your goals, some achievements, and your practice’s values, can also help find someone who belongs.
  3. Post the job listing: Recruiting can be an arduous task, and finding an intern is no different. It may take more than one posting before you strike gold. Local colleges and job fairs are good starts, as well as social media platforms. You can also look closer to home by asking for referrals from your own office team as well as friends and family members who may know of someone looking for a financial internship. There are other online options as well, from websites specifically catering to internship recruiting to financial sites that may have opportunities for postings.
  4. Interview and hire: The interview process should be a learning experience for both you and the candidates, as you’ll be engaging with them to discuss their interest and experience while they feel you out to see if you’re a mentor that they’ll really benefit from. The first interview should be mostly that, while follow up interviews can delve more deeply into the company and specific role the intern will fill. The best interview questions allow candidates to speak about their own strengths in their own words, especially when discussing the unique qualities that make them stand out. Once you’ve found the best match, send an offer letter that details salary as well as any other benefits that the intern will receive while working with your practice. You’re not the only fish in the sea, so to get a great intern, you’ll want to make your offer attractive and competitive. Also, as a courtesy, be sure to follow up with any candidates who did not get the job to let them know that the position has been filled. It’s never a bad idea to keep open channels, as you never know when another opportunity could pop up. 
  5. Prepare for the new internship: Keep in mind that an internship is not just you snapping up some cheaper labor for a semester. The benefits of an internship should flow both ways for the intern and the mentor. Ensure that the responsibilities you have set out for your new intern provide a valuable source of education and experience. Set a schedule for them to work with various members of your team and with yourself so they get a broad variety of experience rather than simply scanning or letter folding. Consider a weekly or bi-weekly meeting with your intern to follow-up with them and allow them to ask questions or express areas that they’d like to get into a bit more. Working together is the greatest benefit of the experience, both for you as a mentor and for your intern as someone who is able to learn from the source.

Whether you’re looking for a summer or school year intern, a little bit of upfront work and careful planning can lead to a great experience for your whole office, including your new intern. You may even find that this year’s intern could be a great potential candidate for next year’s new employee. Feeling a bit confused about how best to manage your new intern and make sure you both get the best experience possible? We’ll explore some tips for being the best mentor on the block in next month’s installation.

Mandy Szewczuk

More about the author: Mandy Szewczuk

Mandy works with advisors as the lead of Evolution Financial Advisor’s virtual assistant program and is part of the marketing and events team.