This summer, RBC Wealth Management-U.S. turned its internship program upside down by giving 27 college-aged interns at the firm’s Minneapolis headquarters a unique opportunity: to work side-by-side with executives on the firm’s business strategy.
Called a “reverse internship,” the new RBC Wealth Management-U.S. program is modeled after reverse mentoring, a two-way approach where older executives mentor, and get mentored by, younger employees.
A group of summer interns pictured together on Blue Water Day.
Interns still held regular day-to-day responsibilities under a direct manager, but were also divided into five “capstone” groups, with each group given the task of devising a solution to a business challenge or opportunity. These capstone topics included client acquisition strategy, communication strategy, intergenerational decision-making, financial literacy, and attracting new financial advisors.
At the end of the summer, each group was asked to make a 20-minute presentation to firm executives detailing their recommendations.
RBC Wealth Management-U.S. President Tom Sagissor found the new internship program to be an enlightening experience.
“Today’s college students are technologically savvy, globally minded and resourceful,” he says. “This summer’s interns brought a fresh perspective to important issues, and I can’t wait to see how we can incorporate their creative ideas and recommendations into our business.”
Throughout the summer, interns also had opportunities to provide advice to executives on a more personal level, such as during a meeting or a discussion over lunch. Some conversations involved simpler topics, like internal policies, while more complex discussions looked to larger industry trends, including the question of how robotics or artificial intelligence will influence business in the near future.
Summer interns volunteer together with a local Habitat for Humanity chapter.
The opportunity to have such meaningful conversations with firm executives proved to be a valuable experience for the interns, according to two participants of this summer’s program.
“It has been incredible to be able to interact with executives,” says Matthew Coopersmith, a business student at Quinnipiac University. “I think knowing that the company actually seems to care about intern feedback really improves the work we’re doing.”
“The people at the firm really make it seem like we’re here for a purpose,” adds Jack Manning, a junior at the University of Minnesota. “I didn’t expect to feel this valued coming into the program.”
Just as the firm learned from the interns’ unique perspectives, the interns learned about the business and industry, while building valuable job skills to help prepare them for their future careers. They also learned about the firm’s purpose, and how RBC Wealth Management-U.S. is committed to giving back to the communities where employees and clients live and work.
To that end, the program included two volunteer opportunities. In June, the interns joined hundreds of other RBC Wealth Management-U.S. employees for the firm’s Blue Water Day event, where they worked to pull invasive plants and protect fresh water in downtown Minneapolis. And in July, they volunteered with a local Habitat for Humanity chapter, installing siding on a new house.
Luisa Resendiz, a second-year student at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, participated in both volunteer events and says it was meaningful to see what the firm stands for outside of an office setting.
“It shows that RBC does the right thing, and that’s valuable for people our age to see,” she says. “It was great that RBC gave us those opportunities as part of the internship. It made this summer that much more of a valuable experience.”