Alternative Financial Services Internships

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There are many opportunities for students and graduates seeking to gain experience in the financial services industry. Many begin their careers by going to financial services firms and/or checking out the finance departments of small, medium, and large corporations all over the country.

During down times in the economy when the big players in the financial industry often enact a hiring freeze, they may still hire interns. Finding positions with smaller firms' finance departments may be a good alternative since smaller firms create more jobs simply because more of them exist. Nonprofits are also an excellent source for many varied positions in business, including finance.

Strategic Searching

Successful internship and job searching includes the use of three basic strategies:

  1. Networking: Networking gives you an opportunity to speak with professionals currently working in the field. You might contact friends, family, faculty, previous employers, and alumni from your college who are currently working in your field of interest.
  2. Internship and Job Postings: Checking out the current internship and job boards provides you with the current openings that are being posted in your field.
  3. Prospecting: Follow up on leads from your networking and job postings, and maintain a list of next steps as you work through each opportunity to narrow down to a list of worthwhile prospects. According to "What Color Is Your Parachute," it takes about 80 eyes and ears to find a job. It's just a numbers game, so keep working on more prospects.

Prospecting puts you in the driver's seat since your efforts will uncover many internships and jobs through research and follow-up with companies that are of interest to you. Since approximately 85 percent of jobs are never advertised, your networking and prospecting can be especially attractive ways to search for internships and jobs.

Alternative Internships Available in Finance

Below is just a small sampling of the many opportunities available. You can find internships like these by doing a little prospecting of your own.

  • Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) offers opportunities for undergraduate or graduate business and accounting majors who are looking to gain experience in the field of finance in a nonprofit organization. For finance work, focus on internships in CDF's core area of Non-Profit Management, which includes the executive office and finance. Interns may assist in the preparation of 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) state registration filing requirements; as well as provide supporting data for financial reports, bank and account reconciliations, tracking of travel expense accounts, as well as other varied administrative duties.
  • The Financial Services Forum is a financial and economic policy organization that includes the chief executive officers of 20 of the largest and most diversified financial institutions operating in the United States. In 2019, the organization is offering interns a part-time, 10-week internship in international cybersecurity for the financial services sector.
  • Intel Corporation offers both student and graduate internships in finance. The company also has a Finance Summer Intern Program that offers a twelve-week assignment that links students with a professional mentor and a peer buddy. A perk of the program is a trip to Intel’s Santa Clara headquarters via their corporate jet for an event for all finance interns participating in the program. At the end of the program, students will do a presentation to senior management and others to showcase what you have accomplished over the summer. Interns are treated as full-time employees and thus receive a salary and may be eligible for additional benefits.
  • S.C. Johnson & Sons, Inc. Finance and Accounting Internship Program offers a variety of opportunities for master and bachelor level students. SC Johnson offers students project-based internships where they can apply their skills and gain new knowledge. Some of the perks of the program include dinners with other finance employees of the company, a series of interactive Lunch-n-Learns, an annual pig roast, and several sporting event outings, competitive compensation, recreation & fitness center, plus more. Many SC Johnson full –time employees started their career at the company as SCJ interns.
  • Nonprofit Finance Fund offers numerous opportunities across the nation. The NFF serves as a financial institution for nonprofit organizations. The NFF contributes to the advances and economic development goals in the nonprofit sector.

Non-Traditional Places to Search

Big corporations offer finance intern programs that are a good alternative to investment banks and financial services firms. You can also broaden your search into looking for companies with finance internship openings that are also engaged in types of business you might have a personal connection to or interest in.

For example, the following companies had internship job listings in their finance departments, as posted on the job search site in summer 2019:

  • TOM'S Shoes: shoe manufacturer and wholesaler/retailer
  • Experian Credit: Consumer credit reporting agency
  • Costa Farms: Large-scale, wholesale plant grower
  • City of Ridgefield, WA: City government finance department
  • Bay Federal Credit Union
  • Edwards Lifesciences: Medical equipment company specializing in artificial heart valves
  • American Ballet Theater (ABT): For ballet fans

Summer Internship Opportunities for Graduate Students

Internships aren't just for undergrads! Many firms also offer internships for graduate-level finance students, such as the following:

  • AT&T Finance Summer Internship Program for 1st Year MBA’s: A full range of opportunities is available for first-year MBA students majoring in business, finance, accounting, or business administration. This is a paid position with offices located in Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Georgia and California, Positions are not yet posted for next summer but keep checking back to the website.
  • AT&T Financial Leadership Program for Final Year MBA’s: The Financial Leadership Program at AT&T offers a full range of experiences that includes a chance to work with the senior management team in finance. The program is designed for graduate students completing their final year in an MBA program in the areas of accounting, finance, or Economics. Positions are not yet posted for next summer but keep checking back to the website. To find internships in your field and location check out AT&T’s website.