Name: Mera Miniato
Type of Project: Internship
- Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.
For my STEP signature project, I took part in a 12-week internship at Forester’s Financial in Dublin, OH. Esch week, interns were taught about the world of financial planning by the regional vice president of the company. During the first week, we were given the booklet that advisors fill out when they are with a client. Each week, we went in depth on a certain section of this booklet.
- What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?
My internship at Forester’s was my first internship ever. Being out of the classroom setting and gaining real-life experience in an office was eye-opening. During the semester before taking on this internship, I started taking my core finance classes such as Corporate Finance and Investments. I enjoyed the lessons I was learning in these classes — particularly what I was learning in Investments. When I started working with Forester’s, I had the opportunity to see my knowledge from investments in play, as a huge part of financial planning is making investments and growing wealth.
However, what I didn’t realize until I got to this internship is that this industry relies on communications and human contact almost just as much as it does finance. We had weeks in the internship where we would solely discuss the various experiences of those who worked in the office. We learned that the way that we act/speak towards a client weighs heavily on whether or not they are going to work with us, which is the first step to creating our network. The math and financial lessons were actually the easier parts of the internship, as we’d all seen them in classes before — what I learned as a result of the internship is the importance of self-image, manners, and social intelligence in this industry.
- What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?
The events that led to my transformation in how I view the Finance field was listening to the experiences of those who had worked in it first-hand from current Forester’s advisors. We got to hear from someone who just began working there a few years ago to someone who has been with Forester’s for over 30 years.
A somewhat recent college graduate and Forester’s advisor spoke to the interns during the first few weeks about his experiences in Financial advising. He taught us how important it is to build a network and not burn bridges, as those are the key to beginning a career in this industry. He focused heavily on his first two years in the industry, and how he was only making about $40k/year because of his lack in networking and finding clients — although that quickly changed once he found a few good clients who would then give referrals to their networks. He also ran us through his favorite programs for building client portfolios based on their needs. The week that we spoke with this advisor, we were mostly focused on how to make money and the quantitative aspects of the job.
A few weeks later, we spoke with an advisor who had been working with Forester’s for over 30 years. He focused more on the present and how he maintains his network. My favorite day was when he told us about a party that he threw for his clients at a local venue to show his appreciation for their trust in him. He also told us about gifts that his clients had given him throughout the years to recognize his good work in managing their money. There was one particular story of an old woman who he had worked with for a long time making him his favorite cake and dropping it off to his home as a token of gratitude. When he spoke to us, I realized how important the human side to this job was — it wasn’t all about making sales and growing wealth. A lot of it depended on the experiences of the client and making sure that they are treated with empathy and an open mind, as they are trusting an advisor enough to hand their savings over.
- Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.
This change is extremely significant in my life, as it was a peek into the industry I am going into. Through classes at OSU, I learn how to solve the math behind the projects and cases that I am given, however rarely do we discuss the human side of things. As a result of this internship, when I interview for jobs I will be able to offer more insight on how familiar I am with the culture of the industry rather than just showing off my quantitative skills. Also, when given a hypothetical case, I am able to find issues to take into account that are non-quantitative and can have a large impact on the situation and financials in the end — such as the attitude of a CFO when dealing with clients and how that can heavily impact the outcome of the deals. Having these soft skills as an addition to my hard skills offers me a wider perspective on the financial world as a whole and gives me more opportunities.