The Mint Grad

Earn an internship, launch a career

woman-internInternships aren’t all about fetching coffee and filing papers – so if you were planning on spending your semester taking pizza orders, think again. Good internships, really good internships, are essentially job interviews. A good internship should give you hands-on experience and opportunities to expand your professional network. Most importantly, if the internship doesn’t earn you a full-time job, you should (at the very least) feel like you developed valuable skills and the confidence to succeed elsewhere in the industry.

Northwestern Mutual, for example, offers one of the most highly recognized internships in the financial services industry. According to Vault, its financial representative internship has been named one of America’s top ten internships for the past 21 years. As a financial representative intern, you are trained and mentored by industry veterans who know what it takes to build a business. And you get to test drive a career where you can achieve your goals and have a positive impact on people’s lives.


Chantel Bonneau

Chantel Bonneau, a UCLA alumna and College Unit Director at Northwestern Mutual – Los Angeles, gives an overview of the interview process and what it takes to succeed in the financial representative (FR) career.

For the internship position, Northwestern Mutual offices recruit candidates from college campuses across the country. Applicants who qualify are offered an opportunity to visit the office, and participate in a group interview and informational session.

“Group interviews are held twice a week in our office,” says Chantel. “We give candidates a tour and an overview of our company culture, mission and values. We want them to know more about the FR career and what to expect if brought onboard.”

According to Chantel, a candidate typically attends three interviews for the internship, and at least four interviews for the full-time position.

“The first interview is always informational and more about the company. The second is to gauge the candidate’s experience and interest levels, and the third (and sometimes fourth) serves as time to get responses to in-depth questions and discuss benefits and compensation,” says Chantel.

What does success look like? Chantel lists eight things she expects from her recruits:

  • Dress to impress. It’s all about first impressions, during interviews and on the job. Dress business formal and you’ll be off to a strong start.
  • Plan for the long-term. The internship shouldn’t be just another line on your resume. Use the opportunity to assess whether the FR career is right for you. If you want to stay with the company long-term, you’ll need to demonstrate you’re committed to doing your best day in and day out.
  • Don’t make excuses. An interviewer doesn’t want to hear them, and your clients most definitely won’t.
  • Be alert and engaged. A likeable candidate comes to the interviews prepared – ready to ask questions and take notes.
  • Show leadership. Leadership, in all capacities, is a good skill to have. Have you worked as a tutor, coach or mentor? Were you on a committee or in charge of managing a special project? If so, tell your interviewer all about it.
  • Channel your inner competitor. It doesn’t matter if you played D-1 college basketball or were captain of the chess team in high school. A likely indicator of success is being able to put yourself in a position to win, even if sometimes you lose. That’s why former athletes make great candidates for this career. In other words, get in the game!
  • Know your passions. Have something to talk about outside of your resume, such as personal hobbies and passions. You may have unique interests that make you a great candidate for the FR career, so share them! If anything, these topics help the interviewer get to know you as a person.
  • Get experience. Having office experience (for example, processing client forms) doesn’t necessarily translate to having customer service experience. If you’re offered an internship, but don’t have all of the preferred experience and skills, be open to learning on the fly and asking for guidance. If you’re not offered an internship or full-time position, pick up another job or extracurricular that can help you bolster your skill set and resume.


Think you have what it takes to work for Northwestern Mutual?

Find out more about the FR internship and career.