Internship Experience

In early January of this semester, I began looking for possible internships for the spring term.  I went online and searched for internships in the fields of human resources and management.  Unfortunately, CareerPortal did not have as many options as I had hoped.  My next move was to go to S Hall 301 and talk to Anne Anderson.  She gave me a list of internships to choose from.  I chose six internships in the areas of human resources and management.  I interviewed with a few possible companies, but none of them seemed to interest me very much.  In regard to my interview with those companies, I felt very comfortable with the process because I had already interview for at least five other positions throughout the fall semester.

One week later, I received a call from Tim Johnson, the Assistant Manager at ACX Investors.  He stated that he had received my fax and would like to meet with me.  Mr. Johnson stated that no interview was required, but that there would be an orientation on February 19th at 1:00 PM.  At the orientation, Mr. Johnson introduced me to his entire office, which consisted of about twenty people; everyone seemed very nice, and they were all eager to work with me.  Mr. Johnson then brought me into the conference room, where he told me a little bit about the company and what to expect during the course of the internship.  Mr. Johnson and I then created my schedule for the semester.

The internship at ACX Investors was a class-style internship, which consisted of three-hour learning sessions and a plethora of shadow days.  The learning sessions were much like a night class at Siena.  I would come into the office with my notebook, and Mr. Johnson would lecture on both ACX Investors as a corporation and the job of a financial representative.  It is interesting to note that at ACX Investors, a financial representative can take one of two tracks – sales or management.  The choice was up to the individual, and would affect all future meetings, training, and licensing.  During the learning sessions, I basically just took notes and focused on understanding everything that Mr. Johnson explained.  Throughout each session, Mr. Johnson would quiz me on what I had learned and ask if I had any other questions.  In total, I attended fifteen classes.

In regard to the shadow days, I would go with the sales representatives to their appointments if the potential customer approved.  Overall, I shadowed forty-four different sales calls – approximately two calls per representative.  This process entailed a lot of traveling, but it was very interesting and well worth it.  Each sales call was approximately two hours.  During travel time, the financial representative would share with me his “game-plan” for the call.  Then, once we arrived at the meeting place, I just observed him in action.  My consistent attendance at sales calls allowed me to apply the information that Mr. Johnson had lectured on.

Without a doubt, the sales calls that I went on with financial representatives were the most interesting part of the internship.  It was really valuable to watch the financial representatives in action because I could see how they set up their schedules and how they performed under pressure.  The best part is that this process gave me a clear picture of the job; I could definitely see myself as a financial representative, although I am not quite sure whether I would take the sales or management path.  Before taking this internship, I had not even considered working for a financial company because I had never liked math.  Interestingly enough, I can easily handle the math required for the jobs at ACX Investors.

The least interesting part of the internship was learning about the computer software that employees of ACX Investors use to keep track of their clients.  The software had some amazing capabilities, but starring at a screen for hours was not fun.  Using this program, we ran a multitude of different scenarios using various conditions, such as type of insurance, type of stock, age of the client, etc.

I learned a lot from my experiences at ACX Investors.  First, the company culture is awesome.  The dress-code is strictly professional, but the atmosphere is much more relaxed.  Most of the members of the office are very close friends, having known each other for a very long time.  The majority of the members work in the “bull-pen”, which is full of desks that have no dividers; there are no cubicles at all, which allows everyone to interact with each other freely.  Lunch breaks are very entertaining because everyone tries to cram into a small room.  My favorite part of the culture is that every other week, Mr. Johnson and the other office members do something fun together.  One week they went paint-balling.  Another week they went rock-climbing.  Unfortunately, none of these events fit into my schedule, so I was unable to attend.

This internship reinforces the fact that I want to find a company culture that is fun.  ACX Investors definitely meets that requirement.  Secondly, I had never considered a sales position before because I had always felt uncomfortable in high pressure selling situations.  However, the training that ACX Investors provides is very extensive and has the ability to mold very efficient and effective financial representatives.

Mr. Johnson was a very effective supervisor, and was also very flexible.  He essentially worked his schedule around mine, in order to give me the most exposure to the business as he could.  He lectured for each of the class sessions, and held a “wrap-up” meeting at the end of each shadow day to debrief.  The only suggestion that I can offer for improvement of the process would be for him to incorporate a greater variety of teaching styles for the learning sessions because some of them provided more information than I could handle; computer science students call this information overload.

I would definitely recommend this internship to anyone interesting in exploring a career in the financial industry.  Students that may be interesting in sales or management would also benefit from this internship.  The internship definitely met my expectations.