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Edward Jones Internship Program Creates Pipeline to Opportunity

November 20, 2013

Abigail Langworthy  
Abigail Langworthy

After a summer interning in the Marketing Services department at Edward Jones, Abigail Langworthy recently returned to work in the Online Client Support department.

She is one of six St. Louis Community College students who have parlayed their internship into opportunities for full- and flex-time work. The Edward Jones Internship program began in summer 2012, and STLCC-Forest Park’s Business Administration department has placed interns there every semester since. All were offered and accepted employment after their internship ended.

“I worked five years on putting this internship together,” said Jeffrey D. Jones, professor in business administration at STLCC-Forest Park. “The paid internship is a full-time, 10-week internship providing the student with an intimate look inside the financial services industry.

Edward Jones is one of the largest brokers in the United States, serving nearly 7 million investors.

“Many people consider them the broker for Main Street, with more local offices than any financial services company in America,” Jones said. “This St. Louis-based company has consistently been ranked as one of the best companies to work for by Fortune Magazine. They focus on the development of long-term client relationships.”

Program and Student Growth

The students’ success has been inspiring.

“It is exciting to see the program growing.  When we started, Edward Jones allowed me to place one student intern per semester.  After one year, the program was so successful that they agreed to accept two students per semester,” Jones said. “I am happy to report that last week three students were offered and have accepted positions as interns for the spring 2014 semester.  This is due to the high quality of students we have placed in the past.”  

Because Edward Jones is a broker/dealer, each student must pass a complete Securities Exchange Commission background check, which is more intensive than a standard employee background check, Jones said. They must undergo a criminal background check and a drug test, in addition to having at least a 3.0 grade-point average.

“We have really good students, have had really good candidates. The vast majority just need a chance, and once they get the chance, they do great things,” Jones said. “The support of Rodney Gee and others has made such a difference.”

Rodney Gee and Kevin Gomez  
Kevin Gomez, right, presents the STLCC Honorary Degree
Award to Rodney Gee at the college's commencement in
May.

Gee, president of the STLCC Foundation Board of Directors, is a principal for financial advisor diversity performance for Edward Jones. He joined the company in 2000 as a department leader for the human resources function for the Information Systems division, with responsibilities including IS training and the day-to-day recruitment, benefits and compensation administration, and management of more than 1,000 associates.

Prior to his current position, Gee served as director of human resources for Edward Jones' Service division. He was named a principal in the firm in 2002.

At STLCC’s Commencement ceremonies this past spring, Gee received the college's Honorary Degree Award, presented by Kevin Gomez, who interned at Edward Jones with Gee, while earning his associate degree in general transfer studies.

“I am living proof that all things are possible if you work hard and persevere,” said Gomez, a member of the 2013 All-Missouri Academic Team. Gomez now attends the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ Pierre Laclede Honors College to study business. “Mr. Gee has been a role model for me,” he said.

Expanding to Community College Students

Gee was interested in setting up the internship with community college students, for previously, only four-year institutions had established internships with the company.

“We started talking about this about six years ago,” Jones said. “We had it put together, and then the financial crises happened. To their credit, they didn’t forget about it. When things settled down, we got back at it.”

During the internship, which pays on average $15 an hour, students keep a journal, and must submit it to their professor. They also make a presentation at the company, and Jones is present for it.

“It’s about what they have learned, how they have improved, what they are taking away from the experience. It really is an awesome opportunity,” he said.

Langworthy said they receive one-on-one attention with a mentor, and meet every two weeks.

“They tell us, ‘Here’s what you need to do to succeed.’ Lots of people in leadership roles help us. It’s fantastic,” she said.

Career Building

Langworthy, who interned there for two months, described the experience as “incredible.” She has decided to transfer to Middle Tennessee State University, so she is taking general education courses here in preparation this fall. Originally from Fulton, Mo., Langworthy, at 23, she said she was ready to take the necessary steps to build her career.

“Everyone at Jones was so nice. They really have a great culture there – everyone is easily accessible,” she said. “There are so many people willing to help. They operate one of the best companies to work for. I loved the (summer) job. I believe you are the driver of your own success. If you are willing to put in the work, things will happen.”

Langworthy has had to juggle jobs with school to advance her education, and during her internship also worked at McGurk’s in Soulard and took several classes.

Interested in staying at Jones while taking classes, Langworthy applied for the flex program, which is similar to a temp position in that individuals work when there is a demand in a department. Flex-time employment includes up to 29.5 hours per week with a set schedule for three months.  After the third month, Edward Jones evaluates the need for the next three months and sets the schedule based on anticipated workflow.  Flex-time positions typically pay between $17.50 and $20 per hour.  New full-time hires often come from the flex-time pool.  She began training this week.

“My internship here helped me in that I know what customer service excellence means here at Jones,” she said. “We work by a higher standard to provide world-class customer service while maintaining a strict confidential atmosphere. While in training, I found that I was already familiar with a lot of the programs my old department used, which is helping me breeze through training.”

Five of the six STLCC students worked in a flex-time position. Recently, Taran Zahara, a spring 2013 intern, was promoted from the flex-time pool, and she will be starting next month as a full-time employee. Another intern, Jonathan Ellis, was offered and accepted full-time employment at the end of his internship.

Opportunity for All

Students from any field, not just business, can apply for the internship. The application is available through all the Business Administration departments in the district. In addition, a transcript, resume, two letters of recommendation from faculty members, and a three-page essay stating why you want to participate and what makes you a qualified candidate are necessary. The student must have at least 18 hours of college credit.

“We vet them here and then they get vetted again,” Jones said. “They get a phone interview with Edward Jones, and go from there. They invest a lot of time in these students. What an experience, and they get their foot in the door.”

The students work either at the north campus, at I-270 and Dorsett, or at the south campus, at I-270 and Manchester.

Langworthy said her accounting teacher, David Juriga, suggested that she apply, and was instrumental in helping during the application process, as was Jones.

“In my career at the college, I have headed many programs and committees. This is the one of which I am most proud, as I know it will have the most lasting and positive effect on these students’ lives,” Jones said. “The Edward Jones Internship program elevates the mission of the community college and truly expands the minds and changes the lives of our students.”

For more information, contact Jones at jdjones@stlcc.edu or 314-644-9080.