From Intern to Employee: Considering Long-Term Financial Plans

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By Brad Sherman

The light at the end of the tunnel is nearing for America’s summer interns.

Full-time offers will be tendered, sighs of relief exhaled and paychecks cashed. Interns who receive offers will be bright-eyed with lofty visions of moonshot careers at their new place of employment. As these interns begin to accept the end of college and pivot towards the start of the rest of their lives, we strongly encourage them to start considering a long-term financial plan.

Sure, it is tempting to put most of your extra cash earned this summer in your checking account for drinks, trips to visit friends or to buy yourself something nice. The decidedly less glamorous option is to put a chunk of that cash into a Roth or Traditional individual retirement account (IRA). But, almost certainly, that is the option for which your future self would pat you on the back.

Early Planning Is a Tough Sell

We know this is a tough sell for most college students. Salaries and long-term financial security aren’t big concerns for today’s generation as it has been before. Even on Wall Street, where compensation is high, interns seek other qualities in a company. For example, interns at investment bank Jefferies said they valued relatable leadership, a family atmosphere and inclusion. So we get that saving for retirement may not be where your mind is at—especially if you received an offer and want to celebrate. (Which, by all means, you should.)


We aren’t here to suggest you start living a life of austerity now that college is almost over. But you must consider that right now is the best time in your life to put a bit of money away for retirement. The power of compound interest means that the earlier you start saving, the greater your returns will be. It doesn’t matter how small the amount—money invested in the stock market can grow exponentially over time because it compounds year over year.

In our experience, many college-aged people don’t know where to start, even if they are interested in opening an IRA. The choice between, for example, a Roth or Traditional IRA can be opaque and intimidating. And then, once an account has been opened, where do you actually invest the money? How can it be monitored?

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