Ally Bates profileEach year thousands of students graduate from Wisconsin’s many universities ready to start their careers. An internship program can help ensure some of those new members of the workforce bring their enthusiasm and fresh knowledge to your bank and help you reap the talent rewards. 

Andrea Matsudaira is one of those young people entering the labor pool. She is graduating from Marquette University’s banking program this spring with a job at a bank already lined up, made possible by interning at two different banks during her time at school. The internships were a way for Matsudaira to gain experience in banking and help her appreciate the impact of the work bankers do. “I liked that I was able to walk around town and I would notice clients. It was really cool to recognize that I was part of the financing for what they were doing,” said Matsudaira. 

Matsudaira’s two internships were with National Exchange Bank & Trust and PNC Bank, and both trained her for an analyst role. “At National Exchange Bank, I was able to participate on a project with the CCO and CFO to implement CECL, calculating the new reserves. I was in a financial modeling class at the time, it was nice to see how what I was learning in school applied at the bank.”

National Exchange Bank and Trust, Fond du Lac, formally started its internship program three years ago. The bank had always had summer students and youth apprentices but decided to add some structure to the process. “We had two major reasons for starting the program,” explained Tami Christian, SVP/human resources, National Exchange Bank & Trust. “One, we wanted to create a pipeline of  talent that would allow us to potentially hire interns upon completion of their internship, and two, to give back to students while bringing more awareness to banking, basically ‘marketing’ the financial and banking industry to students.” Tammy Pitts, VP/human resources, National Exchange Bank & Trust, discussed how the bank onboards interns the same way they would a regular employee, getting the interns acquainted with the organization, its strategy, history, and making the students more aware of how their work fits in to the bigger picture. 

Investors Community Bank, Manitowoc, accomplishes this by encouraging strong working relationships among each cohort of interns, just like with traditional bank employees. “We’re flexible on the beginning and end of the internship depending on school schedules, but we try to have [the interns] start at the same time so they can get to know one another,” said Rachel Schulz, HR specialist, Investors Community Bank. “We want the interns to build camaraderie, and it can be helpful when starting something new to be with people your own age experiencing the same thing.”

Both Investors Community Bank and National Exchange Bank & Trust place interns in a variety of areas. “It’s a little different every year. We ask managers to speak up if their department needs an intern for the summer. Our ag credit department has steadily had two to three interns the last four years,” explained Schulz. “This will be the third year our business credit department has an intern, and marketing has an intern this summer. I actually started as an HR intern. All the internship experiences are different depending on the department.” Schulz, Christian, and Pitts all emphasized that the banks want their interns to have a bigger-picture view of banking, and have a broad understanding of what goes on in the different areas of the bank.

“We really tried to make it an ‘intern-worthy’ experience,” said Christian. “We want to provide the day-to-day experience of working in the bank, as well as opportunities to work on projects, and give them exposure to other parts of the business.”

Schulz noted that Investors Community Bank also has the interns spend time in other departments, to get a general overview of how banking works. “One of the major perks of the internship program is helping people,” remarked Schulz. “Being able to show the students what expectations there are and talk through the expectations. We want them to be more prepared for a future job.”

“We want the interns to develop their analytical and problem-solving skills, attention to detail, the integrity in which we expect employees to operate, and learn to prioritize,” said Christian. 

Having interns is a way to invest in the future of the bank, and banking as a whole. Investors Community Bank and National Exchange Bank & Trust have been able to hire former interns on as staff and inspire future bankers by giving them the chance to experience the industry. “The organization and team also embrace the opportunity to learn from the students,” Pitts explained. “They have talents and skills that are fresh and new, and are remembered by the team after they leave.”

“I’m really appreciative that there are banks out there eager and willing to jumpstart a career,” said Matsudaira. A “jumpstart” is what an internship is to a student–a summer or semester at a bank can be a stepping stone to the future for the next generation of banking leaders.