The Importance of Interns
…in conversation with Randall A. Hoover
In fall 2016, Randy Hoover presented The Power of Internships at our Practice Management Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. This week, we spoke with Mr. Hoover to ask some important questions, and see if any of his best practices have changed. We were delighted to learn the importance and value of interns in financial advisory firms, and below, we share some of his wisdom with you. If you have had an intern or plan to hire one, we would love to hear about your experience as well.
Q: For a firm that has never had an intern, how would you recommend getting started?
A: First, it is essential to determine what your intern will be doing in order to find the best candidate, and ensure that the experience is valuable to both the intern and your firm. Consider the projects at your firm that are important but not urgent, and that you and your full-time team will realistically never get around to. These are concrete projects that can be completed over a summer, but will benefit your bottom line year round. We consider our interns to be Research Assistants, who organize databases and compile information that will improve our operations long after they leave the firm. Many firms are tempted to utilize interns for immediate profit gain through cold calling and marketing projects, but this is usually not as valuable for either the intern or the firm. None of our interns are client-facing. Some interns may attend meetings, but they are only present to observe.
Q: How do you find potential candidates?
A: We employ our interns for multiple summers, which allows them to grow with our firm and increase their value to our team. This approach also provides leadership opportunities for veteran interns. However, our strategy requires onboarding interns as early as high school. By speaking in AP Economics classes, you will reach dozens of bright students and possible intern candidates. As your internship program grows, you can gain access to university internship placement programs and networks. We work with the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.
Q: How do you choose the best from the rest?
A: Start with traditional hiring practices. After that, consider the projects you have outlined and the qualities and experience necessary to complete the work efficiently and effectively. Remember, because you are likely hiring students in a research capacity, you are probably not looking for the best salesperson.
Q: Smart, motivated students are likely to receive several internship offers throughout their college careers. How do you keep them coming back for two or three summers?
A: We provide our interns with unparalleled responsibility, autonomy, and leadership experience. The interns work in a collaborative cohort, and understand the impact and value of their contributions. Moreover, interns who have previously worked with us have the opportunity to manage newer interns, which provides a unique element of management experience.
For more information on internship programs for small businesses, click here for a guide from the U.S. Small Business Association.