We love our interns at White Oaks as they provide insight into new thinking and the next generation.  Many of our clients have a child, grandchild or other special people in our lives entering a new adventure in the “real word” via an internship of summer job. Naturally, these experiences provide valuable insights and the learning to take the next steps in life.

Jenna Pitcosia interned with us recently and she decided to put together some thoughts on what she has gained from her experiences at White Oaks and other firms. Jenna is graduating this month from the University of Minnesota and moving to the East coast.  We thought that you would like the opportunity to share this article with others entering the “real world” of work and careers.


Three lessons I’ve learned from college internships

I’ve had three internships in my college career, and these are three lessons I’ve learned:

2. Stop speculating, and go for it

Speculation is a big thing in the financial world. It’s risking a loss in the hopes of a larger gain. But, speculation is a big thing in a student’s world, too. A college choice is speculation and so is picking a topic of study. And yes, deciding to make it to your 8 a.m. class instead of sleeping in is speculation, too.

But internships are one thing that really drive home the idea of risk and reward for students.

Internships ask for a lot-  initial interviews and professional dress, but most importantly, commitment. As a student, you have to ask, “Do I have time for this?”  But, as it turns out, risking your time, prioritizing your thesis and quizzes and putting off some social engagements, is worth it. Every time.

2. There is no syllabus for the “real world”

It’s the beginning of a new semester, and your professor hands you a fat stack of papers that outlines all expectations, deadlines, and projects for the class…

In an internship, you still get a fat stack of papers — only without the instructions to go along with it.

In a work setting, there will always be ambiguity on the job. You’ve got to learn for yourself when it is (and when it isn’t) appropriate to assume things, how to ask a few of the most critical questions, and how to see a clear picture even when the details are more iPhone 6 resolution than iPhone 8.

Here are some tools for going “syllabus free” during an internship.

3. “Mentors maketh man”

Oh, is that not the right quote? At any rate, it still holds true.

Internships provide a host of leaders and influencers right at your fingertips. When you are surrounded by others who are committed to the same goal, who better to give you a push in the right direction? I’ve met so many diverse people while working — different ages, different countries, different titles and experience— and whether a mentorship is formal or informal, there will always be something to gain.

Denzel Washington said it,

“Show me a successful individual, and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way.”

3. Advocate for yourself

I go to the University of Minnesota, and have had my share of auditorium-style lectures. In that setting it can be easy to keep your head down, finish your work, and let the kid in the front row do the talking. However in an internship, you realize that there was a reason you were hired in the first place, and it’s up to you to exploit that to your greatest potential.

For example, in my experience with White Oaks Wealth Advisors, I have opportunities to sit down with the founder and CEO of the company. Either I can give them my opinion, and ask for the things I want, or I can bite my tongue. I’ll let you guess which scenario has led to the most personal growth.

So whether it’s you, your kid, or your grandchild whose been doing some real speculation around internships, my advice is to polish up the resume, practice handshakes, and get in position for a substantial gain.

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