Hey Intern, I'm Not Lonely
Sitting in O’Hare Airport last Friday for what turned into a 10-hour flight delay, I had plenty of time to catch up on lots of reading. One article that caught my attention was by Sarah Butcher of eFinancialCareers on the experiences of college students who just completed their summer internships. Ms. Butcher’s column included both the good and not-so-good experiences of certain young adults who were fortunate enough to land a much-coveted internship in the financial services industry. 

As one would expect, the good experiences were nice to read about, but it was the bad experiences that seemed more likely to grab a reader’s attention. One story that particularly stood out was about an intern who, after just six weeks, came to a decision that the financial services industry was not for them and went so far as to say, “I don’t want to grow up to be fat, depressed and lonely.” To that intern, let me say that if a brief encounter with me over the summer caused you to come away with those three impressions, please know that I am not lonely.  

On a more serious note, the financial services industry is not for everyone. Just like other professions, it has its own unique pace, demands and rewards that some people find attractive and exhilarating – and that others find dull and oppressive. If your experience this past summer has caused you to rethink a career in financial services, I will not try to tell you that your feelings are wrong. However, I would recommend that you put the experience in perspective. 

Your internship was just a few weeks, spent at one firm among a small group of professionals in only a few departments. It is very difficult to understand an industry to any meaningful degree based solely on such a limited experience. There are hundreds of industry firms, many of which you may have never heard, and all of which have different specialties and cultures. So, if the internship was in your desired field, such as equity trading, and things did not go the way you imagined, there are other equity trading firms out there that may provide a springboard to the career you envision for yourself. 

Also, there is more to financial services companies than financial services alone. Despite popular sentiment, there are a wide range of job descriptions. Technology, law, compliance, advertising, government affairs, research – these are just a few of the other areas that might be of interest. Please don’t let the actions of a few lonely people with weight and emotional issues be the reason to change your career path. 

Reconciling that passion, whether by exploring it or burying it, cleared their minds of any regrets and allowed them to focus on their new career with clear eyes and full hearts. So, if you have a passion for something, coming to terms with it before you enter our industry is a good idea. 

This recommendation to put things into perspective also applies to those who had a positive experience with their internship and now feel confident that the financial services industry is right for them. Continue to research and learn about our industry and ask yourself if this is what you want at this stage in your life. Many individuals with long and successful careers in this sector did or tried to do something they were passionate about before entering the industry. Reconciling that passion, whether by exploring it or burying it, cleared their minds of any regrets and allowed them to focus on their new career with clear eyes and full hearts. So, if you have a passion for something, coming to terms with it before you enter our industry is a good idea. 

Summer internships are wonderful opportunities because they provide an experience and data for students and early-career professionals to base decisions on. If you secured an internship, you’re most likely a talented person who will have a long career in whatever field(s) you go into. However, that experience, no matter how positive or negative, is inherently limited in that it is a short window of time spent within a small part of a large universe. Therefore, while the experience may have been an invaluable one, please do not base a final decision solely upon it. 
STA Student in Finance Membership

STA Student in Finance (STA SIF) Membership is FREE and is ideal for students who want to be informed on topics and issues within the financial services industry, and to connect with securities industry professionals.

STA SIF members receive STA newsletters, complimentary virtual registration to STA conferences, event notices and other communications on industry issues while helping to connect them to STA’s network of industry professionals across the U.S. and Canada.

If you know a student who wants to take their first step towards the financial services industry, have them apply to be an STA Student in Finance Member today!
Archived Articles of Interest

Welcome Interns Class of 2022; Relationships Matter & Career Development
"The financial services industry remains very much an apprentice industry. Which basically means, you acquire many of the skills required in your job from those more senior, or experienced. Therefore, observing, listening and asking questions at the appropriate time will broaden your knowledge and deepen your experience as an intern."
Read more here

To All College Seniors of 2020; Please Reach Out
"...college seniors, who normally would be donning their caps and gowns, and gearing up for all the pomp and circumstance of graduation, have basically seen their college experience flatline. The impact to college students from the decisions made in response to COVID-19 have been nothing short of traumatic."
Read more here

To the Summer Interns of 2019
"Through the efforts of the securities professionals sitting next to you, our markets are more efficient and more resilient than ever before. Now begins your journey and with it you carry the responsibility of safeguarding not through maintaining the status quo but by questioning it and always seeking a better solution."
Read more here

Dear 2018 Summer Interns: Stay in Touch
"We hope the opportunity afforded you the ability to gain knowledge through real-world experiences, and form relationships with fellow interns and colleagues. As you leave the work environment and return to a collegiate one, your next challenge will be to stay connected to these people, and to our industry."
Read more here

To the Class of 2017: Loyalty, be open to feeling it.
"Commencement speeches framed by personal experiences and the actions taken, both right and wrong fill my Top 10 list. That's because life stories told with honesty and in detail provide the robust data young 20 something year-olds need when formulating decisions in their life and career. Hearing about actual mistakes, failures and home-runs resonate more deeply than messages filled with metaphors on rainbows, climbing mountains or caterpillars turning into butterflies”
Read more here 

Advice to the Summer Interns of 2016: Own the Lunch Print
“...Regardless of whether you decide to own the lunch print or not, showing enthusiasm and hustle in all you do will close any gap between you and those brighter...”
Read more here
Save the Date!
Original Content | 31,000 Subscribers

Follow STA