Since its inception, approximately 300 interns have gone through what is now known as Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association's internship outreach program, which continues to flourish thanks to the growing interest in risk management by college students, according to Bob Greenebaum, Executive Vice President, Casualty Practice Group leader at CRC Swett and co-chair of the WSIA Internship Committee.
"Not that long ago, there were probably only three or four universities that had Risk Management programs as an underlying major," said Greenebaum. "I would say that number has expanded to some 20 schools across the country that actually have dedicated Risk Management programs. That gives us a much greater group to pull from for our internship program."
This past summer, 17 interns went through WSIA's nine-week-long internship program, spending five weeks with a carrier and four weeks with a wholesale broker — all Members of WSIA. Of those 17, 10 have been selected to attend the 2017 WSIA Annual Marketplace. Following the convention, the internship committee will select the top two interns and award them with the J.H. Blades Scholarship, which gives the students the opportunity to work in London in 2018.
The unique opportunities presented for both the interns and the host companies have contributed to the program’s continued success. According to Greenebaum, 50% of former interns are currently working in the E&S insurance industry, many of them employed by WSIA-member firms. "It’s a great program and the fact that we are then able to recruit and hire out of it works out great," he said. "It goes full circle."
"One of the biggest challenges of recruiting the next generation of surplus lines insurance professionals has historically been lack of familiarity with the industry, but that’s one of the reasons why the internship program, and WSIA's career development initiatives, are so valuable to members," said Richard Schmitzer, Internship Committee Co-Chair and President & CEO, James River Insurance Company. "As we reach out and educate more and more bright, young students about what it is we do, and help them understand the variety of roles available within this segment of the insurance industry, we are closing that knowledge gap and improving our ability to recruit them into careers here."
The internship program receives some 100 applications each year, from which WSIA Internship Committee Members select students for the program. One of the challenges in organizing the program is having enough hosts, said Greenebaum, as well as having broker and carrier hosts located in the same city so that students don’t need to relocate when they finish the first part of their program and move on to the second.
The expectation is that the increase in membership with the formation of WSIA will enable the internship program to expand to include more students. "The basic workings of the internship program are absolutely rock-solid and in place," said Greenebaum. "With a larger membership, which in turn translates into more firms willing to host, it means we can expand the program."
Interns earn a competitive salary of $18 an hour from the host firms, and WSIA provides housing and internship-related travel expenses. Students who are interested in applying for the summer 2018 program can visit www.wsia.org or www.napslo.org. Applications will be accepted through Oct. 15, 2017, and selections will be made in early December.
"We have an internship committee of approximately 45 people who go through the applications and select the interns," said Greenebaum. "It's a really rewarding activity and part of my responsibility as co-chair of the internship committee is ensuring the next generation that’s coming in is dedicated, effective and willing to grow. This is a really good place to find those people."
WSIA members interested in shaping the next generation of surplus lines professionals by hosting interns should contact Christine Timmerman at Chris@wsia.org.
"How quickly we can expand depends on the willingness and availability of hosts," adds Greenebaum. "I can guarantee that there will be plenty of deserving students available for these internships."