78% of Charles Schwab’s virtual interns got a job offer

May 24, 2021, 9:00 AM UTC

Good morning,

“It was about this time last year that we were finalizing our plans for a virtual internship experience and honestly didn’t know exactly how that was going to work,” says Rob Mundell, senior vice president of talent solutions at Charles Schwab, who oversees the Schwab Intern Academy geared towards college juniors and seniors and grad students. “But the interns and the intern managers proved that they absolutely could handle a remote environment.”

The securities and asset management firm had its first remote internship program last year and will embark on its second during the first week of June. Many participants in the 2020 program became Schwab employees.

“Last year, of the 400 students who joined us, we made offers to 78% of them, and coincidentally, 78% of those offers were accepted,” says Mundell. 

A former-intern-turned-employee shared with me her perspective on how the firm is enhancing its talent pipeline through internships, which is particularly important amid the current war for talent.

Andie Teresi is an associate in talent acquisition at Schwab—the same department where she interned in the traditional, in-person cohort in 2019. Teresi’s task as an intern was to improve the candidate experience at Schwab. She did so by reaching out to former candidates who interviewed at the firm and found out what they liked and what needed improvement. Teresi presented her findings and suggestions to senior leadership at the end of the program. But that wasn’t the first time she interacted leadership.

“It seemed like every week we were meeting a new SVP/EVP leader across various organizations at Schwab,” Teresi said.

That experience landed her a full-time job at Schwab where she’s observed the firm “transcend the elements of its in-person culture to a virtual setting.”

How? Practices such as “setting up Intern Families (families consisted of 10-12 interns with two cohort leaders serving as family leaders),” Teresi told me.

“These ‘families’ gave [interns] a sense of a home base that helped them find their place in a new corporate environment,” she says.

This year, “we’ll have about 400 interns across Schwab and legacy TD Ameritrade,” coming from 60 different universities and residing in 200 different cities, says Mundell. Schwab acquired TD Ameritrade in October 2020.

Mundell shared key lessons learned from last year’s virtual internship:

Don’t be afraid to challenge the students. They are highly adaptable. You can engage them in meaningful work and developmental projects, immediately. 

Pay special attention to ensuring that your cultural messages are being shared, so that in addition to the work, they’re understanding what it means to be in your environment. 

-See the opportunity. There is greater opportunity as students interact with interns across the country rather than just the interns at their own worksite. This allows students to gain more exposure and access to peers and professionals.

“The interns had the technological sophistication, certainly, but they also had the adaptability necessary to really step into a role with maybe a little bit less oversight than they would normally have in an internship,” he says.

HR and technology groups worked closely together to ensure that students had equipment, access to Schwab’s networks, and the onboarding they needed for the program to run smoothly, he says. 

Another important aspect of a virtual internship is engagement.

“The social aspect is absolutely essential to the intern experience,” says Mundell. “It’s something they look forward to; and this actually allowed us to expand [the internship program] in a way that we didn’t foresee.” 

See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada

Big deal

KPMG's 2021 Thriving in an A.I. World report surveyed business leaders and decision makers in government. Financial services, government, healthcare, industrial manufacturing, life sciences, retail and tech are all industries where A.I. is functional, according to respondents. 

Courtesy of KPMG

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