Finding and keeping quality interns can be a difficult task. But interns can increase the talent in your workforce pool, provide existing reps with leadership and management experience, and create a future supervisor structure and succession planning. They can also simply be fun, said Amanda Dunlap-Corbett, a Royal Alliance advisor and director of operations with Integrated Financial Planning Center in Austin, Texas.
During Advisor Group’s Women’s Conference in Los Angeles this week, Dunlap-Corbett gave attendees a crash course in running an internship program. She manages the internship program at her firm, which has $200 million in AUM. Here are some of her words of wisdom:
- Before launching a program, assess the needs of your firm, whether that’s planning, investment research, technology, or marketing. Determine the roles of the potential interns, where to find them and what’s required of them.
- There are sources of potential interns near you, such as local colleges and universities. But don’t limit your search to your immediate city. IFPC has had success with interns in St. Marcus, outside of Austin, and even Wisconsin. Traditional avenues can also be a good source for interns, including Craigslist, and online and newspaper employment pages.
- Effective advertising of the internship position is key. Provide as many details about the position in the post; tailor experiences for various degrees. Also, find out if the internship qualifies for credit at local colleges, and advertise this.
- At IFPC, interns go through the same hiring process as all employees, fingerprints, background checks and all.
- Stress the value of the experiences they’ll have. For example, IFPC does not make interns do cold calls. Other benefits for them may include licensing opportunities down the road, test preparation, impactful references, and general career training and advice.
- Hire more interns than you need. Some will inevitably quit.
- Don’t make them come in before 10 a.m. Most of them are college students.
- Compensation: Dunlap-Corbett recommends having an initial six-month period where they’re unpaid—the first semester. If they stick around, she’ll start paying them minimum wage. She suggests talking to others in your area about what’s typically paid to interns.
- Make it fun. IFPC, for example, keeps the kitchen stocked with food, candy and drinks, so interns never go hungry. (They also don’t have to leave the office to get food!)
Following some of these tips can help in finding good interns and help your business. Dunlap-Corbett said she now has a full-time staffer who actually started out as an intern years ago.