What I hope summer interns are thinking about
By Walt Bettinger, President and Chief Executive Officer
This month, we are welcoming our 2020 class of interns to Schwab. And, like so many other summer traditions, summer internships will feel different as our corporate campuses are closed to all but a small percentage of our personnel. Even with internships taking place at home, I think much of the advice I would share in any given year applies for making an internship successful.
Just as students would experience in a “normal” year, internships can identify what one is passionate about in a career. Harnessing that passion over the course of your professional life will help keep you engaged and energized through the inevitable ups and downs that fall into everyone’s path. Conversely, if you realize that the industry or role you’re spending your internship in isn’t what you thought it would be, that is a valuable discovery too. This time may sharpen this process of discovery: when you’re working at home, it is the work, not some of the perks or social interactions that gives you long-term satisfaction.
"Internships can identify what one is passionate about in a career. Harnessing that passion over the course of your professional life will help keep you engaged and energized through the inevitable ups and downs that fall into everyone’s path."
Now, more than ever, you should make sure that your values align with the company where you work. Consider how they treat their employees, clients and communities in this trying time – is that who you are proud to work for? Being part of a firm now means you’re getting the benefit of seeing how a company responds to significant challenges, and the true values of the organization emerge. Do the leaders’ words match up with the behaviors you see day-to-day?
And, most importantly, building lasting trust with your colleagues means being vulnerable. Just as you would do with classmates and friends, we build relationships at work through transparency and vulnerability. That means asking questions, listening, and admitting you don’t have the answers. I’d argue that applies to all professionals, no matter one’s years of experience, age or title!
So if you are a Schwabbie intern this year, I hope you’ll let me know how it goes. Interns’ voices are so important to us (and should be for all companies) because you’re our future employees and clients: do we live up to your expectations, and how can we do better?
I’ll be listening.