By Kate Demet, S.V.P., Director of Marketing & Communications & Marcus Emanuel, Wealth Management Associate
At RMB, we aim to establish long-term, multigenerational relationships with our wealth management clients. Therefore, we need to build a multigenerational RMB team. One of the ways we do that – and the one of which we’re proudest – is through our internship program.
We’ve always had interns at RMB, but in the early days, our approach was less structured and more opportunistic, perhaps typical of a start-up firm. Four years ago, we committed ourselves to establishing a formal internship program that could be a model for our human resources strategy – specifically related to recruiting, hiring, training, and development. Given our firm’s historical and projected growth, each of these processes is critical to our success and sustainability. So, we gathered a cross-functional group of employees to form the Internship Committee, and this team built our program from the ground up – from the selection criteria and process, to intern projects and responsibilities, to employee engagement and events. Meeting twice a month year-round, the committee manages all aspects of how the program is executed and is constantly discussing further improvements.
How Our Program Works
Our internship is a nine-week paid program open to both sophomores and juniors. We accept applications in the fall (typically from early September to mid-November), make our final selections by early January, and then welcome the interns in mid-June when they are rising juniors and rising seniors.
Rising juniors get acquainted with our industry and our firm by rotating through various functional areas in RMB’s Chicago office, including asset management, wealth management, and business operations. This holistic experience gives them the rare opportunity to explore different potential career paths within the financial industry and to identify where their interests lie.
Rising seniors have a more focused foundation for growth by spending the full nine weeks in one specific practice area within RMB. This intensive experience gives them the opportunity to develop practical skills through a range of in-depth projects. It provides a firsthand understanding of the typical responsibilities associated with an entry-level job in that part of our business, as well as a glimpse into a potential career trajectory.
Who We Look For
We aim to recruit top students from top universities, whether they are working toward an undergraduate business degree or a major in another related field. We seek driven, high-performing students with excellent communication skills and a strong work ethic. Consistent with our approach to hiring full-time employees, we evaluate potential interns based on how well they align with our values of authenticity, excellence, rigor, solutions, and results. They should have a passion for learning, a service mentality, and an interest in pursuing a business career – preferably in the financial services industry.
From 2014 to 2016, we had about 30 interns go through the program, and their enthusiasm helped to spread the word about RMB on various college campuses around the country. Just this year, we received more than 700 applications for only 13 spots. We’re proud to have hosted interns from prestigious schools, such as Northwestern, Washington University, University of Michigan, Princeton, Brown University, and Harvard. As an example of the caliber of these students, the average cumulative GPA for 2017 summer interns hovers around 3.6.
What Makes Our Program Distinct
Interns become full-fledged members of our team and are welcomed into our collaborative, entrepreneurial culture. They attend training and development sessions and are included in company, departmental, and client meetings. We also organize events that provide opportunities for them to socialize with other interns and employees. One event that interns have found particularly valuable is a brown-bag lunch with RMB employees who are recent college graduates and who can share their personal experiences related to job searching and early career decisions.
Every intern is also paired with a current employee as a dedicated mentor for the full nine weeks. These mentors are resources for RMB-specific questions or more general questions about working in the finance industry, and tips on building resumes, interviewing, networking, etc.
The program culminates with a reception at the RMB Chicago office, where current interns, their parents, and representatives from career centers at various schools mingle with RMB employees and intern alumni. It’s a great way to celebrate everyone’s hard work over the summer and send the interns back to school with a bit of fanfare.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the passion for our internship program starts at the very top. Our founders, Dick Burridge and Fred Paulman, understand that taking good care of clients and of the employees who serve those clients go hand in hand. So building a strong culture and providing career growth opportunities have always been priorities. As our employees continue to progress in their careers, we see the internship program as a valuable way to build our pipeline of potential future employees. In fact, one of our recent hires, Julia Buchholz, earned a position here based on how much she impressed us as an intern last summer. Certainly not all of our interns will go on to become RMB employees, but based on their skills and credentials, we expect all of them to become successful professionals. We hope they remember us fondly, because if their success leads them to search for a wealth manager, our next generation of leaders will be here and ready to help.