An Internship for the Sake of Experience

An Internship for the Sake of Experience

My parents started Stonebridge Companies, a hotel ownership and development company, around 30 years ago. Consequently, I grew up in the hotel business and in the back of my mind, always knew I would end up there. I would help at my parent’s office after soccer practice, tour hotel sites with my Dad, and read up on hospitality literature in my free time. For my undergrad I attended Cornell’s Hotel School and was able to bolster my “home-grown” knowledge with academic frameworks and analytical rigor. After graduating though, I still wasn’t ready to join my family’s business. I knew I wanted to do something on my own for a while to build up my skill set, which is exactly what I did. I spent some time at Burger King Corporate in Miami, working in global procurement and then decided to make a shift to Uber, where I spent the last four years prior to business school.

In 2019 I was five years out of undergrad, had lived in four different cities, and had some amazing work experiences under my belt. I could feel myself getting a bit complacent at work and I was itching for what might come next. I had never discussed with my family when I might join the business, but after some introspection I felt I was almost ready. I realized there were just a few more skills I wanted to gain before making the leap: 1) a better grasp on some of the hard skills I wasn’t able to develop through my work experience (investments, real estate finance, employment law, etc.), 2) leadership frameworks to help me better understand the type of leader I am and to adapt to other managerial styles, and 3) a sense of credibility before going into a family-run business. Nepotism is real and I wanted to do everything I could to make me, my family, and the company feel like I earned my role in my family’s business. The combination of these three goals led me to the choice rich environment of Booth.

Knowing that I was going to be joining my family’s business right out of Booth, I needed an internship that would be purely for the experience, as I didn’t need it to turn into a full time offer. This notion is definitely an interesting sell to employers who are looking to groom their interns to eventually return in a few months as full-time staff. For me, however, I wanted to set myself up for an internship that would provide me with real, applicable experiences that I could bring back to Stonebridge (and I needed to intern for a company that was open to this prospect). I narrowed down the ideation phase of my search to family offices, family philanthropies, and private wealth management arms of large banks. I first met with a Booth Career Advisor to see if she knew of any alumni in the spaces I was interested. I was put in touch with a list of people that matched my interests and needs.

I also spoke with my fellow Family Business Club members and other social connections I had made at Booth to see if they had any contacts in the family office, foundation, or private wealth management spaces. I kept these initial conversations very informative and wanted to gain insight into the type of work I might be doing at each internship and see what would be most helpful to me when I left after the summer. If the conversation proceeded positively, I asked how open they would be to an intern who was not looking to return to the firm post-graduation. This question weeded out quite a few companies, as they felt they would need to retailor some of their curriculum to fit my situation.

After a few months of searching, I happened upon a company called Matter Family Offices, a primarily female run multifamily office. The firm focuses on a purpose-driven path that supports family’s unique goals and values through investment management, wealth planning, and cultural and legacy services. The essence of their business was exactly what I wanted in an internship and they were so excited by the fact that I would be joining my own family’s business after graduation. I knew I was going to be involved in our family’s family office, so the investment management and wealth planning were going to be immensely important. Additionally, as a first-generation family business, I was also going to be taking a large role in defining our family governance and legacy, and was thankful for Matter’s expertise in the space. Over the course of the summer with Matter, I learned a ton, both about family offices, but also how I would fit into my family’s business landscape.

As I mentioned earlier, I always knew in the back of my head I would join my family’s business – the question was always when. I wanted to make sure I was up to the task and ready for such a shift in my life. It was a weird feeling having my last work experience before joining Stonebridge, it almost felt like a retirement of sorts. But when my internship ended, I can honestly say that I finally felt fully prepared to join my family’s business. I now feel energized by the opportunity to create my own job, work alongside my parents, and give my time to a company that has given me so much.