On July 13, 2017, over 100 interns and students joined business leaders from twenty Chicago-area Financial Services firms and three non-profit organizations at the Fourth-Annual Financial Services Pipeline (FSP) Initiative’s Summer Intern Career Conference, hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The Career Conference is part of the collaborative effort to increase the representation of African-Americans and Latinos, at all levels, within the Chicago-area Financial Services Industry and increase cultural competency within the sector.
This year’s conference focused on promoting and explaining the many jobs and roles available in the Financial Services Industry, as well as the diverse backgrounds of the professionals in these positions. The agenda for the day included a welcome from Nokihomis Willis, Senior Vice President of People & Culture at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, who began the day by speaking about her 20 plus years of experience working in the Financial Services Industry and her advice to interns and students. The Master of Ceremonies, Melissa Donaldson, Chief Diversity Officer of Wintrust engaged attendees throughout the event with her charismatic energy and presence.
The conference included two panel discussions on “Converting an Internship into a Career” and “Positioned for Impact – Finding Your Purpose” where Financial Services professionals gave advice on how to make the best of an internship opportunity, navigate their career and align it with their passion and values. During the panel discussions attendees were encouraged to ask questions and engage directly with speakers. Panelists gave interns and students an idea on how to reach their career goals and become effective leaders.
During the conference interns and students had the opportunity to participate in a “Speed Networking” session with seasoned Financial Service Professionals to network and discuss the best ways to achieve career goals.
Ellen Bromagen, First Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago introduced this year’s keynote speaker Ana Dutra, President of The Executives’ Club of Chicago. Ana Dutra inspired attendees as she gave key advice on the importance of networking, career advancement, and explaining the difference between mentors and sponsors. During her keynote speech Ana said, “You have to do the best job you can in the roles you have and look forward to where you want to be in three, five or ten years out to grow.”
Following the panel discussion attendees participated in a “Peer and Professional networking” session where interns were encouraged to network with seasoned professionals and ask questions about their career goals. In closing remarks for the event, Perika Sampson, Regional Diversity Officer at Morgan Stanley offered interns and students her own advice on achieving success and encouragement as they began their careers.
The Career Conference had a positive impact on all attendees. An intern shared their reflection of the event, “This was my first year attending the FSP Summer Intern Career Conference, and it was empowering to be surrounded by interns, students and successful professionals who look like me. Attending the conference exposed me to exceptional professionals, and it allowed me to develop my network as a young professional. The work FSP is doing in terms of increasing diversity in the financial sector is phenomenal!”
Overall, the Career Conference provided a space for industry leaders to educate and inspire the next generation to explore careers in the sector, as well as an opportunity for young talent to share their ideas and expectations with seasoned professionals.