Experience Matters: Get an Internship!

Many of the articles I write for our My City Readers relate to an older generation of investors and are often not applicable to the younger generation. This article is a departure from the usual subjects, but in the end pertains to the financial world in that it offers advice for achieving success in a future career.

As the job market has been red hot as of late, we have had the opportunity to work with a few different college students in different capacities. A common theme has emerged with our most dynamic and successful student interactions. Experience in the field that they are attempting to enter post-college gives them a significant advantage above other students entering the same field.

The Intern’s Journey

Looking back at my internships in the financial world revealed to me how they guided my path through my college and career. While I was a sophomore in college, I attempted to get an internship with Merrill Lynch. I was practically laughed out of the building. When I had inquired about the internship, I was dressed in khakis and a polo shirt. I had no idea that a suit and tie was a requirement, even when just poking your head in to inquire! This was just one of the things on my long list of educational tips that my internships eventually taught me.

A few months later, I landed an internship with a friend-of-a-friend’s father, who owned his own boutique financial planning firm. This was not a paid internship, but it got my foot in the door and what I learned about the financial industry with Dean Oliver as my mentor, was priceless.

The next spring, I was able to secure an internship with Smith Barney (now Morgan Stanley). This was a minimum wage-paid position, and I gained even more insight into the field that fascinated me. The following winter, I was able to leverage these two internships to apply for a full-time personal banker position at Huntington Bank, which allowed me to become fully-licensed in securities while I was still a senior in college.

After a few years working for the bank in their investment company, I was able to get a full-time financial advisor position back at Smith Barney. In 2009, my wife and I started our own financial planning firm, LaGore Wealth Management. Lastly, in 2012, I rejoined my original mentor Dean Oliver, forming Oliver LaGore VanValin Investment Group.

Transition to Employee

Being successful in the transition between student to employee can be quite arduous. If you are currently a college student, I can’t stress enough the importance of getting experience in the field that you wish to enter. There is no easy road to securing employment, but showing potential employers that you have the discipline and dedication to study their industry, is a great place to start. It may be difficult finding an applicable internship for your field, but volunteering, as well as accepting an unpaid internship, may very well provide you with the experience you need to start your climb up the corporate ladder.

The New Year has just begun

Start 2019 off right by searching for your summer internship program. Employers will be impressed by your forward-thinking and ability to plan ahead. No one is going to care more about your future than you do. Happy New Year!