By Destine Johnson
Class of 2014 Finance Major
During the summer of 2013, I participated in Regions newly developed six-week internship program with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Business Administration. I learned about this program through Kirstin Sams, who represented Regions at the UT Accounting and Finance Internship Night. This incredible opportunity helped me develop professional skills and gain a sense of where I see myself once I start my career. My internship taught me that banking involves much more than just making deposits.
The internship was very unique in the way it was structured. I was one of only three UT students, all finance majors, who were invited to participate— two rising seniors (myself included) and one master’s student. I rotated through several different business areas—trust and private wealth, business banking, commercial and industrial banking, and consumer banking—plus spent a week visiting four different branch locations. I observed Regions’s culture and job shadowed numerous individuals having different responsibilities across various levels of the organization.
Regions also involved the interns in activities outside of its day-to-day operations, such as making us a part of its dragon boat race team that raised money for Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries and inviting us to a luncheon whose guest speaker was Knight Kiplinger, the publisher of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.
Learning about Regions’s principles and values made me feel as if I were a part of the Regions team. I recognized that the possibilities I could achieve were endless. I learned about team dynamics from staff and senior executives by sitting in on meetings and seeing first-hand how successful teams communicate when discussing current achievements and future goals.
The professionals that I job shadowed became my mentors. Zachary Hamilton is a business banker; my time with him was spent visiting a client. I learned that going out on calls is essential for bankers to be successful. It gives them the opportunity to engage with their clients, discuss their needs, and create plans for future ventures. Hearing the dialogue between Mr. Hamilton and his client was fascinating because the client valued Mr. Hamilton’s opinion on endeavors he was considering for his company.
Rob Chadwell, business banking sales manager, spent hours of his time teaching me what I needed to know to become a successful business banker. I was so grateful for his time and thankful for his advice. I left his office with countless pages of hand-written notes that will serve as a valuable reference for years to come.
One area that peaked my interest considerably was private wealth management. My week in this area was spent with wealth advisors, trust advisors, portfolio managers, and a lending advisor. I learned an abundance of information from each one of them. However, I gravitated toward the wealth advisors because of the personal financial assistance they gave to their clients. Paige Christenberry, a wealth advisor, talked to me about the importance of building a rapport in your community by doing community service and joining organizations throughout your area.
When I spent time in commercial and industrial banking (C&I), I was able to learn about the many opportunities bankers can provide to a large corporation. I got to work with an underwriter and actually do projects and build an analytical report on a company. In addition to spending time with the bankers in C&I, I also job shadowed the employees in treasury management. This area was interesting to me because I learned about the distribution and collection of funds, online banking, and ways to protect against fraud.
The week I spent at the branches was particularly enlightening, especially being able to visit four diverse locations across Knoxville and seeing how each branch was unique. I spent time talking with many of the branch employees and realized how many opportunities for advancement existed. During my week at the branches, I job shadowed Aaron Madron, a consumer banker; I got the chance to observe him discussing goals he set for the staff and offering advice he thought would be valuable for them in the future.
When I was job shadowing Don Hutcheson, a wealth advisor, he taught me three things that I should stay true to throughout my career —honesty, integrity, and ethics. Bruce Duggins, a sales manager, also gave me great advice. He told me to stay open to new opportunities because you never know where they might lead you. Then there was George Consin, a director of financial sales. Although I did not have any scheduled time to job shadow him during the internship, he took the time to talk with me and answer any questions that I had.
I am appreciative to have had this opportunity to meet such a great team at Regions and gain real-world experience in the banking industry.
Everyone I interacted with during my internship spoke highly of Regions. They all loved the company and the work they were doing. It is comforting to know that once I graduate college, I too could work for a company that wants to see me succeed and will help me along the way.
My time at Regions was a great experience; it helped me better understand my career path and the courses I should take during my last year of college. The experience kept reinforcing the importance of communication skills, professionalism, and networking. I would encourage any student to take advantage of this internship program.
According to Kirsten Sams, Regions area human resources manager, the Regions internship program was created to serve several purposes in which the student, the university, and the bank all benefit. “Students gain a deeper knowledge of our industry and company as they look forward to their career path and long-term goals. The university has the opportunity to both showcase its talented students to Regions while also expanding the variety of resources it can offer to students. Regions has the chance to give back to the educational process, as well as work with top-performing students who have the potential to become candidates for employment. Regions works to ‘Build the Best Banker’ through career development and training, and we can’t think of a better place to start than in the college environment.”
Suzan Murphy, distinguished lecturer in the Department of Finance and faculty advisor of the UT Finance Management Association, also speaks highly about Johnson and the internship: “Destine Johnson was a student in my Finance 301 class, but I didn’t realize what a special person she was until she joined me on the Finance Management Association trips to New York City and Omaha. I encouraged her to come to the Finance and Accounting Internship Fair, where she met Kirstin Sams from Regions. This was the first year Regions participated in our program, so I was thrilled Kirsten had a chance to meet Destine. Regions offered Destine a six-week internship, and I think it was a win-win situation for both parties—Destine had the opportunity to learn about the different areas of the bank, and Regions was able to cultivate a relationship with an exceptional young lady!”