Name: Evan Collins
Type of Project: Internship
Last summer, I used my STEP funds to support my internship with AXA Equitable in downtown Cleveland. I worked with a high achievement dba known as Stratus Advisors, and my official title was Sales Force Intern. During my time with Stratus Advisors, I gained experience by collaborating with coworkers to accomplish projects, learning to always ask questions and be open to things you’ve never tried before, and learning the financial markets better through research and experience with different kinds of investment packages.
Through my internship, I gained a better understanding of exactly what I want to do with my degrees after college. Going into the internship, I thought financial advising would be something I would love to go into. The people to people connection and the rewarding nature of helping individuals meet their retirement goals was what initially drew me to the field. Although I enjoyed my internship and truly gained a lot of great hands on experience, I truly realized that I could not go into financial advising.
In addition, I realized how I am most effective as a worker. Over the summer, I was either doing work that I was told specifically to do, or I was given a simple task and was told my objective, but not specific instructions on how to get there. Although I was effective at both types of projects, each with different amounts of room for freedom and responsibility, I realized that I like to complete large projects and given the freedom to work however I want to accomplish said project. This information is useful, because I now realize how to steer my career path to positions where my strengths are better accented.
These key aspects of my experience come down to individual moments or sections of my internship that really impacted me. When I initially started my internship, I had some growing pains, as in I was unsure of my whole roles as an intern, how involved they wanted me in projects, how to communicate both in person and through emails with team members, and the information and work flow of Stratus Advisors in general. As I began to acclimate to me setting, I began to understand how I should ask for more work, how I can be best used in the company, and how to be my most impactful self.
Halfway through the year, I was assigned to lead the way in updating Stratus Advisors website and overall online presence through social media, Google, and other aspects. I was given what they would like the result to be, but not how I should go about it. This was an impactful moment for me. I decided to organize a meeting to discuss the matters, which I invited my bosses, our technology officer, and our compliance officer to. I created the meeting itinerary and headed the conversation, something I could never have seen myself do during the beginning of my internship. From this experience, I gained confidence and the realization that I can make an impact in a company even if I am an intern, and it made the corporate setting less intimidating.
Lastly, the biggest learning curve for me was learning the different investment vehicles Stratus Advisors used for their clients. From knowing whether an account is for a Qualified or Non-Qualified account, to whether a mutual fund product was actively managed, and so on. There was a lot of material to digest to do many aspects of my internship. In the beginning, I just read about the products, as well as shadowed the assistants to know how to open different kinds of accounts. Then I began to attempt to work on my own, and eventually became fluent in opening many different account types, as well as how to use the many software’s we used, such as Salesforce. In the beginning, I felt almost hopeless, like I would never be able to full grasp all the concepts, but I was surprised at how quickly I was able to make an impact in this area.
Throughout my internship experience with Stratus Advisors and AXA Equitable Holdings, I grew a lot professionally and individually, and am now never more certain of the path I want to go in my life. Although many people would look back and be discouraged that they no longer want to pursue the career they interned for, I am so thankful, because now I can focus my energy on the next big thing for me. I am so thankful that I had this internship experience, because now when I am in my career, I know I will be a lot happier.