Last week, I attended the RMI Career Fair at UNC-Charlotte to promote summer internships and job openings with our member agencies. I have attended these Career Fairs many times over the last few years – at Appalachian State University, East Carolina University and UNC-Charlotte – and am always impressed with the students in attendance. They are bright, polished, and professional and focused on making connections that will help them in their future careers. It’s evident that the insurance industry is in good hands moving forward.
My only regret is that many of these awesome students may never know how amazing their career could be if they followed the (often less traveled) path to working in an independent agency. We know the many benefits that an independent agent career offers… flexibility, helping your community, advocating for the client, charting your own financial course and future, among many others. But if these students are not exposed to the opportunities of working in independent agencies, then they may continue down the road to other careers in our industry. They could be missing out on a great career path AND independent agencies are missing out on great people to fill the staffing shortage that is a real concern right now.
So, what can we do about it?
IIANC invites many of these students to attend our conferences for networking opportunities with our member agents, and we often speak at their RMI classes. But the best thing would be for our members to offer paid internships in order to give students a first-hand glimpse into the awesome benefits of working in an independent agency.
An internship can be a win-win for both your agency and the student. Not only does it give your agency some additional help for a few months, but it promotes the awesome career advantages that working as an independent agent offers. It’s also a great opportunity to get these top-notch students “in the door” before someone else does and take a risk-free look at a potential future employee.
Offering an internship may seem like a daunting task. While it’s an important endeavor that does require planning and commitment from your staff, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. IIANC offers several resources to simplify this process for our members.
- Helping You Find an Intern – We attend the RMI Career Fairs each year to promote known internship opportunities and to collect resumes from interested students that we can share directly with you. I already have resumes from UNC-Charlotte students, we’ll be going to App State’s Career Fair at the end of March, and ECU has students still looking for internships, too! You can also think outside of the box when it comes to looking for qualified candidates for an internship. While the RMI students are highly recommended and bring valuable insurance knowledge with them from their coursework, you can also look at students enrolled in community colleges or other universities, especially those pursuing business or marketing related degrees.
- Planning for the Internship – The Agent’s Guide for Internships walks you step by step through a 10-week summer internship. It can be customized for your specific agency, but it takes all of the guesswork out of what projects, responsibilities and training should be part of the internship. Included are sample interview forms and evaluations, orientation schedules, intern assignments and more. The InVEST Program also offers great information to help with a successful internship.
- Funding a Paid Internship – Thanks to funding from the IIANC Education Foundation, IIANC is again able to offer grants to help our members fund paid internships this year. The deadline to apply is April 18 and there are a limited number available so don’t wait to apply.
If you’re still not convinced that your agency is ready to offer a summer internship, click here to read some success stories from our 2018 Agency Internship program. You’ll see that hiring a student intern can be a rewarding, fun and memorable experience for all involved.
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