If you have been reading my previous articles, you will know that we have made lots of mistakes when it comes to hiring. One thing that has worked for us is taking on interns.
For the most part, the interns have been smart, dedicated and a joy to work with. Sure we had a few that we didn’t think made a good fit, but it was easy to part company because there was no expectation of longer-term employment.
Here are a few tips we learned that can help you find just the right intern:
1. Work with a top rated business school. Finding a great business school is a must. We found a huge difference in the cognitive abilities from graduates coming out of a top rated B school, over a more middle of the road college. The smarts factor is key for us because our clients are highly educated and expect a lot of service. We need team members who can keep up and move fast with accuracy.
We also tried hiring interns with a liberal arts degree. Typically it was too difficult for them to transition over to the complexity of the high-level math and finance we must do every day. It helped if they had some background in finance, or better yet, financial planning. At least they had some of the vocabulary, which made the training a little easier for us.
2. “Market” your firm. I feel a huge part of the interview process is to promote our firm to the candidates as a great place to work and get experience at the same time. In our ads and during the interview process we try to be as attractive as honestly possible since the top candidates will have lots of other choices.
There are a few things we emphasize during the interviews to make the position with our firm shine.
We focus on letting the interns sit in on client meetings to take notes. This gives them firsthand experience on what a day in the life of a financial advisor is all about.
After each client meeting, I spend some time debriefing with the intern. I explain why we did what we did and then answer any questions the intern might have.
If I have a financial advisory client in, I have the intern sit in on a full day executive business retreat, so the intern can learn about other financial services firms and see how we do financial services turnarounds. (I do mention that I have some experience in practice management!)
We work hard to show interns all the different aspects of what we do, so they get a well-rounded education. We will cover the process of financial planning, tax reduction strategies for now and in the future, asset management and protection, in addition to risk management and investments. I want to make sure each intern is getting a good education from working with us.
We give interns meaningful work. Sure there is scanning and copying, but we want to make sure interns perform activities they will find interesting and educational.
Interns attend all client prep meetings and case studies. This is a great way to get them indoctrinated with real-world experience.
Whenever possible, we try to find some work they can do from home after hours to save them a trip to the office. This only accounts for part of their time, but it makes us more flexible than other offices.
Finally, I offer to write a glowing letter of reference for their future employment search.