Fitting In: My College to Corporate Internship Experience
“Am I a right fit?” This is the question that I continually asked myself throughout my initial interview at Vanguard for the College to Corporate internship. There I was, conducting an interview at one of the largest asset management firms in the world, without any other type of internships to my name. Talking to the other students being interviewed, I started to hear the names of some highly reputable internships that other potential candidates have completed. At this point, I realized that I may have underestimated the caliber of the students who were selected to interview for the College to Corporate internship, which made me doubt my own achievements.
You see, prior to this interview I had no experience working in the financial sector, unlike many other applicants for the internship. My professional experience consisted of research in a biology and physics lab, a mentoring position on campus, a teaching assistant position, and a science-based leadership role on campus. For a smaller-sized company, this would be excellent…but for a financial firm that has more than 4 trillion dollars in assets, I felt that my experiences made me an outlier compared to the other candidates, and not in a good way. All I could think was, “Why would they interview someone with no financial experience to take an internship at a financial company?” But as the interview progressed, I started to realize that although Vanguard is a financial company, having a strong financial background wasn’t all that Vanguard looks for in its applicants.
Although having a working knowledge of finance is necessary for working at Vanguard, the company values another element just as much as the knowledge of finance. This trait has many names, but here at Vanguard it’s called a “rotational mindset.” The crew members here at Vanguard have the opportunity to not just work in their role and follow that career path, but potentially move to another role that requires a completely different skill set than the previous role did. To be successful in this new position, you must be able to adapt to new changes, and use your transferable skills, whether it is leadership, analytical, communication, or something else entirely, to be able to take on the new challenges of this position. With this information I started to understand why I was interviewing with the rest of these candidates.
Throughout my tenure in college, I worked in a variety of disciplines. Although none of them were finance-related, all of my involvement required a different set of skills to tackle and solve the various problems in each of these disciplines: meticulous patience, strong analytical skills, and emotional intelligence among other things. This helped me develop the rotational mindset that Vanguard values in all of its crew members, from the new hires to the most senior leaders in the company.
Now, with 10 days left in the internship, I see why having this rotational mindset was so important to have while working at Vanguard. For my projects, I have had to work and learn from people across many different departments here at Vanguard, and having a wide variety of skills that transferred to each project helped me understand the avalanche of new information over the course of the internship.
So when you are developing your resume for the College to Corporate internship, ask yourself “Why Me?” Don’t try and just build the typical finance internship resume, because chances are there are other people doing the same thing, and Vanguard is more than just another “finance company”. Try something outside of your comfort zone, and show Vanguard, and the world, that your skills are not limited to just one field.
We are family: Vanguard Charlotte celebrates 20 years
After arriving in Charlotte almost five years ago, it didn’t take long to see that the office had something special. Our crew are genuinely friendly, offer diverse perspectives, and foster deep connections. We work hard but also know how to celebrate accomplishments and milestones, both for Vanguard and our clients. Everywhere you look, every day, the crew are investing in our clients, in each other, and in the community. These personal, almost family-like connections have been part of the tapestry of Charlotte since the very beginning and remain true today.
Since I haven’t been at the Charlotte office since the beginning, I decided to catch up with a few colleagues who were directly involved in standing up this Vanguard location.
Michelle W. was one of the first HR team members on the ground tasked with getting the site up and running. She handled a multitude of responsibilities including facilities, recruiting, crew benefits, and implementing crew services on par with our offerings in Malvern. It was the ultimate definition of the HR Generalist. With the goal of hiring 700 crew members that initial year, Michelle and another HR colleague recruited around the clock from their bank of tables and telephones on an otherwise empty floor in our building. It was an incredible challenge but also rewarding. Michelle shared she remembers the personal touch most and that it stays with her even today—being able to greet folks by name, know their families, celebrate successes together, and support each other through disappointments.
Chrisa F. also shared her early memories of Vanguard Charlotte with me. Our Charlotte office was a budding site, full of energy and excitement. Crew were eager to learn new things, and everyone was ready to lend a hand. After spending almost four weeks coaching new Retail Services crew, she was so impressed with Charlotte that she decided to permanently relocate in 1998.
Fast forward 20 years. We are now 1,600 crew occupying four buildings and more than 324,000 square feet of office space. So much has changed in twenty years, yet the Charlotte office remains a unique and special place. It feels every bit a family, but stronger. Happy 20th anniversary, Vanguard Charlotte!
Runners, walkers, and wheelchair participants line up at the starting line. Some in teams with colorful shirts and creative team names, others participating on their own. Some will walk, some will run, some will wheel, and some will cheer. All will make a difference.
This September is Vanguard’s annual Vanguard Gives Back 2017 Campaign’s 5k run and 1-mile walk/wheelchair event. Held on September 9 in Arizona and September 11 in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, the event is part of a broader fundraising campaign that runs from September 11 through September 22.
Crew also look forward to the friendly competition among 5k participants. Once again, awards will recognize top finishers, largest team, best costume, overall spirit, and more.
Why do we participate? For some it’s a way to bond with their team. For others, it’s to get their daily exercise or maintain fitness goals they’ve set for healthy living. But for many, it’s all about giving back.
Answers to your most pressing questions about starting an internship at Vanguard
1. When do I find out my assignment?
During your interviews, you will have the opportunity to voice where your interests lie and what kind of department you hope to be in that summer. Then, a couple of weeks prior to the internship starting, the C2C program managers send all the interns their assignments, with brief descriptions. Generally speaking, the managers are really great about matching up your interests to departments where there is need for an intern. In terms of what your day-to-day will look like, it definitely varies with your department.
2. What will my hours be?
Working hours vary across all the Vanguard departments. Probably the most typical hours for an intern would be 8am-5pm, but that is definitely not the case for all of us. For example, if your manager wants you working an 8 hour day, but you can’t stand rush hour traffic, you might choose to work 7am-4pm so you can get home quickly. You might have days where your team leaves early, so you decide to as well. And sometimes, you might need to work overtime if there is a strict deadline that your team is working against.
3. Do I need a car?
Not necessarily! Having a car makes transport easy, but Vanguard is really great about providing public transportation. Vanguard has several free shuttles to get you where you need to be. For example, if you stay at Villanova University during the internship, you can take Septa to Paoli Station, where free Vanguard shuttles will bring you to work (same thing on the way back).
4. Can I take time off?
As an intern, we would recommend you not take time off unless it is something extremely important, or an emergency. You’re only here for 10 weeks, so might as well make the most of your time. That being said, you do get July 4th off. When in doubt, ask your manager!
5. Can I work from home?
While interns aren’t able to work from home, there are plenty of opportunities to have flexible schedules in the office. Talk to your manager!
6. What should I wear?
As you can see from this picture, we’re all wearing very different outfits. Josh went for what you might call a “business casual” outfit, because he had a pretty relaxed day ahead. Audra went for what you might call a “business appropriate” outfit, as we had a standard day of some meetings, a C2C event, and heads-down project work time. Megha opted for a “business formal” outfit, because on that day she had a 1-on-1 meeting with a senior leader on her team. Your work-wear will change depending on the day ahead, so a flexible wardrobe definitely helps. Also a tip: keep a blazer at your cubicle! You never know when you’ll be pulled into an important meetings, or if Mr. Bogle is right around the corner…
7. Who do I go to when I need help?
One of the nicest things about the Vanguard internship is that you always have someone to help. You are assigned a buddy who is in one of the leadership programs to field any questions you might have, from the simple “where is the bathroom” to helping you make career decisions. You will also have fellow Crew on your team, other interns, your intern manager, and your assignment manager.
8. What are the intern housing options?
You are expected to live at home and commute if you live within a 50-mile radius of Vanguard. If you live outside the radius, you are eligible for housing options. They are:
Two-person dorms at Villanova University (free housing)
A stipend that will be put to a housing option of your choice (ex: an apartment in Philly)
9. How often do interns visit Philadelphia?
Most of the interns go into the city on the weekends. Good food, fun events, museums, shopping, sports, and pretty much everything else you would want in a city is right in Philly!
10. Do you have a best friend at work?
Yes! Whether it be another intern, a fellow Crew, your manager, or the building security guard, it’s not hard to find a best friend at Vanguard. Having friends at work makes going to work enjoyable and you feel supported no matter what role you might move to. Everyone is very personable and easy to talk to, so don’t be afraid to get to know your team and peers!
As the sun blazes down on a hot June day, six Vanguard crew members stand at attention. All six are veterans, representing different branches of the U.S. military, all preparing to honor our symbol of freedom.
June 14th marked Flag Day – an occasion to commemorate the adoption of the American flag – and Vanguard recognized the day with a ceremony hosted by our internal military network, VetsConnect. Open to all crew, the ceremony is held annually, rain or shine. Jesse Hamilton, an Investment Management Group Process Expert, and veteran of the U.S. Army, shares, “Vanguard’s Flag Day ceremony is a special event where crew members come together to pay homage to the nation’s colors and the freedom they represent.”
The event opened with a live rendition of the national anthem, sung by crew member Lisa Rawus, followed by a ceremonial flag detail: a ritual where the flag is lowered and folded according to flag-folding protocol. Then a new flag is unfolded and raised.
After the flag detail, crew member Kyle Dolan presented a brief history of the flag and the significance of June 14th – not only the day the Second Continental Congress adopted the flag, but also the birthday of the United States Army. Dolan shared that VetsConnect offered this event in order to preserve the traditions, history, pride, and respect that are due the nation’s symbol. “May we never lose sight of the meaning of our flag.” he concluded.
In addition to the Flag Day ceremony, VetsConnect offers resources, support, and networking opportunities throughout the year, all to create a sense of community for active duty, veteran, and civilian crew members. Hamilton observes, “There’s a strong sense of camaraderie within Vanguard’s veteran community, almost identical to the camaraderie I experienced during my time in the U.S. Army.”
When it comes to caring about crew, Vanguard is unmatched. With amazing health benefits, on-campus gyms, and even pet insurance, it’s hard to dispute that Vanguard is one the best companies to work for. One of the benefits I want to focus on today is Vanguard’s annual Volunteer Time Off, or VTO day. Every year, crew members get to take a paid day off from work to volunteer, sometimes with their team or on their own with their favorite charity. Many teams organize group activities at non-profits like Cradles to Crayons, while some crew go off on their own to volunteer at a local charity that needs help.
Here at Vanguard our work revolves around the three Cs: Clients, Crew and Community. Our clients differ based on the different divisions at Vanguard, but as crew we are always dedicated to serving these clients in the best way possible. The Retail Investor Group (RIG) is our largest division, serving approximately 7 billion clients and small businesses with over $1 trillion in assets under management (AUM). These clients are individuals who trust Vanguard with their savings because of our low-costs but also the way we treat them in every day interactions.
Karin Risi, the Managing Director of RIG, has been at Vanguard for 20 years. She reports directly to Vanguard’s CEO and has a large team with six different subdivisions in RIG. Each of these business areas work together in creating an engaging and positive environment for our clients.
Last but not least, Vanguard strives to make communities stronger in many different ways through a variety of activities. One unique experience I was able to have through the internship program was being placed on a team within Vanguard Charitable where we specifically analyzed ways to positively influence high impact philanthropy. The goal is to better assist donors in making long term contributions to 501c3 organizations of their choice, whose missions align with the type of impact they hope to make with their charitable donations. Supporting Vanguard Charitable clients and making an impact in the community at the same time was a great experience.
The idea of serving others before self has been ingrained in our culture and is why our third “C”, community, is so important to everyone here at Vanguard.
Tim Birbeck, Chief of Staff for Vanguard’s Information Technology and Security division, didn’t plan to be in IT. He wanted to be a plumber. After all, it was the profession of the main character in his favorite video game. And like his hero, he wanted to chase bad guys, travel new worlds, and save the day. That was, until he learned that he could actually make his own video games, which started a lifelong passion for technology that still exists today. Tim shared this story, among others, with students attending Techies Day at Vanguard – an event designed to expose high school students to technology careers.
“IT is seen as being heads down, but I believe we are the most collaborative field in the world.” Tim told the students. He described Vanguard’s culture as being team oriented, and shared that IT crew have diverse career options – including software development, security, or infrastructure. In his current role, Tim gets to do what interests him the most – he loves gadgets, he likes figuring out how things work, and he has opportunities to polish his skills in non-IT areas, including leadership. In fact, he works closely with senior leaders and has exposure to their expertise and guidance.
The Techies Day event is designed for students at a key moment in their young adult lives – they’re researching continuing education options, exploring fields of study, and contemplating future careers. They are also starting to think about the kind of employer they want four years from now. For most students, that means a place where they are not only permitted to move between roles, but are actually encouraged to seek out other positions, take on new challenges, and enhance current skills. During their time at Vanguard, students had the opportunity to try on different roles with sessions focused on Big Data & Analytics, Enterprise 2.0 (a project aimed at integrating web tools into the workplace), and Security and IT. In these interactive discussions, students completed hands on activities where they got to see how it really felt Student with 360 headsetto be a product owner or engineer. They also heard speakers, visited a Tech Expo, and asked lots of questions.
Most importantly, the students learned that if they choose to come to Vanguard, they too will spend their days building new things, solving problems, and conquering new worlds.
The Vanguard Experience (As Told by Vanguard Interns)
The culture of The Vanguard Group has always been distinctive compared to those of other financial institutions. “Clients. Crew. Community.” is what we are all about – a surprisingly novel mantra which has built Vanguard’s sturdy foundation as not only the world’s largest mutual fund firm, but in our opinion, one of the world’s best places to work. Here is some corporate culture insight we’ve gained since interning at Vanguard:
They are focused on YOUR strengths and personal development
From the phone interview to offering you the internship, Vanguard is committed to place you in an area where you will thrive. One of the first things you do as an intern is take the Strengths Finder 2.0 program to help you better understand your strengths and how you can leverage them in your career. From there, you sit with your manager one-on-one and discuss your interests and brainstorm what you would like your focus to be for the internship.
They foster an incredibly open and collaborative environment
“Let’s grab coffee” is encouraged at Vanguard and serves as a way for crew to engage with one another and find potential career interests outside of their own department. This is made easier by senior leaders’ willingness to meet with interns and share their unique perspectives on Vanguard and their particular roles. They understand what it is like to be in your shoes and make it a priority to get to know you. Even John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, can be found meeting with us!
(Vanguard Founder, Jack Bogle, meeting a group of excited interns!)
They leverage diversity and inclusion to the fullest potential
As an intern at Vanguard, you will quickly realize that you are surrounded by a group of incredibly talented individuals, much like yourself. You will also realize how diverse these individuals are – studying disciplines from economics to computer engineering to political science and hailing from all around the country. Vanguard makes it a point to harness this diversity and create community amongst the interns by hosting trips into the city of Philadelphia, competitive sack racing events and weekly lunch-ins with the entire cadre of 90+ interns!