Retooled internships stoke talent pipelines with diverse students


Biology and business: Rachel Friedland is figuring out how the two intersect, and where she might find a career in that intersection.

A short internship with Pallas Capital in January helped the Cornell sophomore understand the investment ecosystem. Now she believes she has a clear vision for blending the two spheres.

“I feel like I’ll go into something that blends health care and business, or health care and finance,” she said. The two-day Pallas Institute intensive also gave her insight into the culture of investment firms. “As a biology major, I don’t learn this stuff unless I go out of my way to seek it,” Friedland said.

Internships aren’t what they used to be. Some firms are integrating Covid-induced changes that enabled them to pull in a wider range of college and business school students through virtual and hybrid programs. Others have completely retooled the mission and structure of introductory experiences, making the most of emerging platforms that reach deep into student populations to find candidates who may not realize that their interests coincide with advisory and investing needs and career paths.

Virtual internships appear to be a permanent fixture: 33% of employers across all industries now offer location-agnostic pre-career experiences, and 70% of college students are open to those programs. Three years ago, employers discovered that remote work meant that they could reach beyond geographic barriers to recruit interns from a wider variety of colleges — potentially stoking new hires from underrepresented communities.

Now, though, the rising perception is that simply being open to diverse students from any college, anywhere, isn’t enough. More young women graduate from high school than young men. The gap is especially acute for Black students, with a six-point difference between the number of young Black men graduating from high school compared with young Black women, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution. Women and ethnic minorities are notoriously underrepresented in the CFP profession.

To that end, programs like the ongoing “Externship,” a low-cost, virtual internship program offered by Amplified Planning, stoke momentum for the fully virtual model. Last year, women comprised 42% of the program’s 700 students and career-changers from across the country; Black students, 11%; Asians, 10.5%; and Hispanics, 9.7%.  Charles Schwab & Co. is a major sponsor, along with a growing array of firms across the investing and advisory spectrum.


Friedland found out about the Pallas program through Girls Who Invest, a rapidly expanding organization that organizes its own programs and also serves as a clearinghouse for firms that want to cast a wide net for interns.

“The pandemic gave us the opportunity to redesign the way we work, including internships,” said Kimberley Majury, head of culture and marketing for wealth management firm Pallas Capital Advisors.

The firm has had traditional interns in the past, “but now we have a whole new model,” Majury said. The two-day institute includes about 40 participants. It’s on-site, but short enough to be affordable for working students. The goal is both to infuse participants with a vision for their own prospects within the advisory and investing sphere, and to outline the value of investing for their own use.

Pallas hasn’t abandoned traditional internships, but it’s also more open to custom schedules and blends of remote and hybrid. “The takeaway is that you don’t have to have a  traditional internship program to achieve your objectives,” Majury said. Pallas now crafts its summer internships to suit each students’ interests and expectation for at least some hybrid work.

While it’s continuing with internships for college students, Nationwide also ramped up an apprenticeship program for high school students in its home region of central Ohio. The goal, said Lisa Kirk, vice president of talent acquisition, is to pull in older teens who haven’t quite clarified a career vision — and who certainly don’t know what goes on behind the corporate glass curtain.

Six-week rotations through different departments let apprentices gain hands-on experience with skills such as sales and find out how they might qualify for a position that catches their interest, she said. To complement the practical focus of the program, Nationwide adjusted its college tuition reimbursement policy. Now, employees are paid back immediately for passing courses, instead of months later, reinforcing some teens’ intention to avoid college debt.

The apprenticeship program is “intentionally designed with cohort groups” so that apprentices have colleagues from the start — replicating one time-honored dynamic of traditional college internships. “Culture and connectivity matter,” Kirk said.

With only 10 full-time employees, Canal Capital Management has always custom-crafted the internships it offers to a couple of college students every summer. But hybrid work, said Noah Greenbaum, partner and director of investments, realigned not just where interns work, but how.

“We meet with them once or twice a week in the office and help them think through things in person and then give them a chance to think through those projects remotely,” he explained.

Handling chunks of work on their own forces the interns to figure out technical tasks — like constructing graphics — and explore potential solutions on their own, instead of replicating the process of the department or individual they happen to be working with.

“It’s gone from shadowing” to a hybrid of in-person coaching and self-directed development, Greenbaum said. “And that’s more impactful as they start to understand different parts of the business.”

Source: Investment News

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