During the second week of January, Kimberly Wieghaus externed at Merrill Lynch in Mt. Laurel, NJ with Ursinus alumnus Jonathan Markoe ’86. She decided to participate in this externship because she thought that it would be a great opportunity to get workplace experience in a field that she’s interested in after undergrad without the commitment of an internship.
For her application essay, Kimberly stressed how being selected for an externship would be valuable to her and why she was eager to experience the daily operations of a firm that was in the field she is passionate about. A unique thing the sophomore did was include personal experiences that were relevant to the externship position she was applying for. When researching the organizations offering externships, she chose Merrill Lynch because of her interest in financial advising and the company’s recognizable name. “It’s a respectable company and I knew my experience there would be a great thing to put on my resume for future endeavors,” Kimberly said. After she was selected for the Merrill Lynch opportunity, she contacted her sponsor and asked questions about what to expect during the externship.
During Kimberly’s first day, her sponsor gave her an overview of the company and introduced her to his colleagues. He explained to her what his daily duties were and allowed her to sit in on some calls with his clients. She also shadowed other members of Jonathan’s team, which was beneficial since many of them were new to the field as recent college graduates. Her favorite aspect of the externship was being able to see people working in a professional environment. “It was a lot different than the classrooms I’m used to at college. I also really enjoyed hearing how employees ended up working at Merrill Lynch and how they knew that this was the career path they wanted to pursue.”
The most effective questions that Kimberly asked her sponsor were how he knew that financial advising was the right choice and any advice he had on choosing a career path. “He provided me with very sound advice and made it clear that whatever path I choose to pursue after college, I should be happy at my job and not have money be a driving factor when choosing a profession.” After her externship ended, she reached out and thanked Jonathan for the opportunity. She continues to keep in contact with him, and is planning on reaching out again soon since he notified her that he would be able to connect her with some summer internship opportunities. “I met a lot of employees who were very happy to help me should I reach out to them in the future for anything. I got a lot of business cards that provide me with their contact information so reaching out in the future will be easy.”
This externship experience allowed Kimberly to realize that financial advising probably is not the path that she would like to pursue. Even though it was very interesting and valuable, it wasn’t the kind of work that she saw herself doing in the future. This allowed her to narrow down her career options so she could spend time focusing on other possible careers. Overall, she learned that the financial advising industry is very competitive and you have to be very personable since relationships with clients can determine your success in the industry.
The Coolest Part of the Experience
The coolest part of the experience was being able to go out to lunch with her sponsor and some of his colleagues. She was able to talk to them in an informal setting and get advice on a wide range of topics. The greatest reward that came from participating in the Externship program was the entire experience.
If she were to participate in the program again, Kimberly wouldn’t do anything differently. She went into her externship open-minded and ready to learn, which the sophomore thinks is the key to having a good experience. She would absolutely recommend this opportunity to anyone interested in Business.