Griffin Dunaway

Internships: A Practical Way to Gain Experience and Improve Your Marketability

By: Griffin Dunaway, MFF Fellow & MFF Board Member

Internships are by far the best tool for someone to use when wanting to break into a field or industry. The real-world experience, professional connections and deeper knowledge internships can provide are crucial, especially in today’s hyper-competitive job market. 

Leaning on my own personal experience with internships, I know I would not be where I am without mine. I interned with a large financial institution when I was a college student, and as a result, discovered my passion for finance. During the summer of 2020, I had the opportunity to have three interns work with me, preparing real estate proformas as part of my work as an advisor with Morgan Legacy Partners. My work includes establishing, managing, and growing relationships with various lending institutions to secure necessary funding for real estate investment projects.

Internships are a great way to get your feet wet and ask questions about the profession, the actual work, and how the work fits into the larger organization. One of the most important traits I personally look for when working with interns is curiosity. When you are curious and ask questions, you simply learn more and show the employer you are taking it upon yourself to try and learn. Ask why a certain task or project is important and how it fits within the organization. Ask how and why project teams work together. Ask to meet with other departments to learn what they do. Ask for opinions on industry trends and news. On the flip side, your curiosity is not to just impress the employer, but more importantly helps you to answer the most important question of “Would I have fun and be passionate about this field or career?”

When considering an internship, think of it as the opportunity for you to make a meaningful impact for a potential employer – while you earn valuable and marketable experience. Internships are also a great way for you to learn skills needed to be successful in the workplace, such as communication, listening, and time management.

An internship should:

  • Align with a career you are interested in (think of the inside “view” of what the career is really like you will have!)
  • Provide you the opportunity to learn meaningful skills which not only increase your future employment opportunities but provide you with personal satisfaction (think of all the tools you will have to go along with the “book” knowledge you’ve got!) 
  • Assist with growing your professional network – from a short- or long-term mentor to business colleagues (think of all the experience and knowledge you will be surrounded by!)

Internships may also provide you with college credit, a form of income, and the possibility for full-time employment after graduation.

Each of the three interns I worked with last summer are MFF Fellows, which means they have completed MFF’s Standards of Financial Literacy (SFL) course. The interns were tasked with planning, creating, and executing a plan to develop a five-acre parcel of land. The group of interns not only built out a financial development model, but a full cost analysis for the project. As the interns reached out to different departments to help develop their project, they were able to learn about different roles within the company and to meet the company’s different employees and contractors. 

One of the three interns was Trent Remillard, an MFF Fellow from 2015. Trent, now a senior at Bryant University majoring in finance and economics, says, “Having this internship experience not only strengthened my knowledge of the proforma process, it allowed me to see the process in a professional setting. I am currently taking a real estate investment class, and with what I learned through my internship, much of the coursework is a simple review.”

To begin your own internship search, be sure to:

  • Start early!
  • Visit the Career Services office at your college, as many employers will reach out with opportunities (and colleges may also host career fairs where these types of opportunities are often promoted).
  • Network with family, friends, faculty, and college advisors and ask if they know of any opportunities (remember to also leverage your LinkedIn page and ask your contacts if they know of available internships!).

On behalf of MFF, we wish you good luck with your internship search!

Become an MFF Fellow

Our Standards of Financial Literacy program is engaging, full of interesting information, and easy to navigate. Adapted from the National Standards for Financial Literacy developed by the Council for Economic Education (CEE), this robust curriculum features six short lessons on such important topics as earning income, the value of saving and using credit. When completed, this program lays the foundation to become an MFF Fellow.

Becoming an MFF Fellow is the ticket to accessing additional MFF programs and opportunities for mentoring, networking, internships and real-world opportunities. These are the opportunities which allow MFF Fellows to continue their journey to personal financial success.

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