Brokerage Ops the December 2019 issue

Your Interns, Your Future

Change the narrative for the next generation. They may be knocking on your door soon.
By Brianne Spellane Posted on December 1, 2019

They just need a little guidance as they search for the right career. As the insurance industry continues in its struggle to effectively tell its story in a way that would naturally attract this upcoming cohort, there’s one proven approach that rids students’ misconceptions and builds their awareness of the many different paths insurance can offer as a career: internships.

Studies show that internships are the insurance brokerage industry’s most successful tool in the recruitment of college students. Not surprising, after all, since most college students—even some of the risk management and insurance majors!—have never heard of commercial insurance brokerage. But once your firm gets them in the door for an internship, their perception of the industry starts to change, and their career options morph in ways they never imagined.

“Before this internship, I really didn’t know much about the world of insurance, but after the 10 weeks I spent learning about it this summer, I found surety to be the most interesting and a great career option,” says Carran Smith, a mathematics major and physics learning assistant at the University of New Hampshire and an intern at Cross Insurance Agency.

In fact, in the recently released Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS) Annual Student Recruiting Survey, 41% of the 700 college junior and senior respondents said they changed their original path, function or industry segment due to exposure through an internship, campus speaker, faculty, industry day, or GIS event.

This lends credence to programs like The Council Foundation’s Scholarship Program, which attracts college students from across the country to the commercial insurance brokerage sector by way of internships run at member firms with the ultimate goal of keeping the students in the business after graduation. Since 2006, the foundation has awarded $2.6 million in academic scholarships to 525 students across the country, including $1.4 million to 275 students in the last four years alone.

“The commercial insurance brokerage and employee benefits industries offer countless opportunities and dynamic career paths for young college graduates,” says Ken Crerar, president & CEO of The Council. “It is critical that we continue to work together to invest in the next generation of leaders and promote the important work we do for millions of people and businesses around the world.”

Running a meaningful internship program with real work and strong mentors is a great way to test-drive talent and cultivate a pool of star candidates to fill positions as they open up. According to research, at the one-year mark, interns who become full-time employees are almost 30% more likely to still be at your company than are other full-time hires.

Gone are the days when interns were in charge of the morning coffee run. According to a recent National Association of Colleges and Employers survey, only 8% of intern tasks involved clerical or non-essential work responsibilities, with the other 92% spent on higher-level tasks like data analysis, problem-solving and logistics. In the name of truly attracting and retaining the best talent, exposure to innovative hands-on training, critical thinking, interpersonal communication, and actual work experience is what it takes to get interns to stick around for the long haul and start to change the narrative of the industry.

“This past summer I was given the opportunity to intern at Baldwin Krystyn Sherman, where I was the risk mitigation analyst intern for the risk mitigation services team. This was my first introduction to the world of insurance, and my great experience has opened me up to the idea of a future career in this field,” says Sam Unger, a finance major at the University of Florida.

“I am truly thankful for this opportunity and look forward to securing another internship next year,” says Lexie Smith, a marketing and supply chain management major from the University of Illinois. “I had many friends from school share their experiences, and I can honestly say that none of them compare to mine. The culture was amazing, and the people genuinely love their work.”

The following 75 individuals each received a $5,000 academic scholarship from The Council Foundation in September. For these students, participating in an internship has prepared them for the demands of today’s workforce. They’ve gained valuable work experience, built confidence, brought perspective, developed those oft-lacking soft skills, and now have the guidance they need to make their marks in the industry. Knock, knock!

Meet the 2019 Council Foundation scholars.

Brianne Spellane Associate Managing Editor Read More

More in Brokerage Ops

The Gift of Resilience
Brokerage Ops The Gift of Resilience
A holistic approach to leadership at the perfect time of year
Brokerage Ops Smaller Steps Bring Better Results
Q&A with Sandeep Deva, VP, Consulting and Product Design, Exdion
Sponsored By Exdion
I'm Right, You're Wrong
Brokerage Ops I'm Right, You're Wrong
When we stop listening to others’ opinions and accepting new ideas, we miss ou...