Shanna Myers ('07)

Every student eventually reaches a point in their college career where they must answer the impending question, “Is this the right career for me?” Upon answering this crucial question students may find themselves frustrated or confused as to their next move. Shanna Myers, a 2007 graduate of Milligan College, realized early on that an internship could provide the hands-on experience necessary to transform this doubt into confidence in her plans for the future.

Myers, a native of Maryville, Tennessee, spent most summers with her grandmother in Kingsport. It was during one of these summers that friend, Cindy Mayes, suggested she attend Milligan. Despite holding a full scholarship to Maryville College, Myers chose to attend Milligan just three weeks shy of the start of class. At Milligan, Myers double majored in psychology and business administration with an emphasis in accounting. “I started out in psychology because I originally thought I would become a counselor. I soon realized that I worked well with numbers and decided to add a business degree because of its versatility and my natural skills toward accounting” said Myers.

In February 2006, Myers interned at Burleson Construction in Johnson City, Tennessee. Despite possessing the necessary accounting skills, Myers soon realized that a career in accounting was not for her. However, the Burleson internship was crucial to Myers’ professional development. The internship afforded Myers’ the opportunity to focus on other areas of the business world prior to entering the job market. It also taught her important skills that she has since incorporated into her professional career.

Once Myers’ realized she did not want to become an accountant, she immediately began looking for other internships. She soon discovered an email that was recruiting for the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network (NMFN) internship. The Northwestern Mutual internship program began in 1967 and provides students with the opportunity to work as financial representatives while obtaining their business degree. The “Vault Guide to Internships” magazine has ranked Northwestern as one of the top ten internships for the past 13 years. The program offers real-world experience along with practical guidance in students’ career selection process. Mentors aid interns in developing a network and other valuable business relationship skills.

When asked about her daily tasks Myers explained that the structure of the program followed the same format as that of permanent financial representatives.

“Most of my work days were spent learning the field, meeting people, and building my network. The clients I met during my internship are the same individuals I work with now” said Myers.

Myers is most grateful to the internship for coaching and supporting her as she built her network. While most representatives begin building their client base from their “warm network,” individuals they already know, Myers was at a disadvantage not being from the Johnson City area.

“Since I didn’t know anybody, I met individuals by attending lots of events” she said. “I went to chamber events, became associated with Junior League and Junior Achievement. Everywhere I went I asked if I could present my business.”

Toward the end of her internship, Myers accepted an offer by Northwestern Mutual to work as a full-time financial representative because of her love for the job and for people.

“Financial representatives interact with people on a daily basis, which can seem like an emotional rollercoaster” said Myers. “I have to read signals from potential clients and make them understand that I am there to help and that I am trustworthy. Trusting someone with your money is a huge deal. Earning the client’s trust is just one of the many barriers a financial representative has to overcome.”

Despite the hard work involved in the financial business Myers loves her job.

“I get to hear people’s stories all the time. I help create a financial plan for individuals and coach them to better living,” said Myers.

Myers recommends that students take advantage of opportunities to participate in as many internships as possible throughout their college career. She advises students to seek challenging internships, look for opportunities to meet people, and get involved to establish connections.

Although Myers never thought she would sell insurance or manage peoples’ money, she is grateful the internship with Northwestern Mutual opened her eyes to new business career possibilities.

“Being a Financial Representative is character building, it forces me to have courageous conversations I wouldn’t normally have,” said Myers. “Nobody wants to initiate the tough conversations about money, which is why people like me are necessary. We can’t impact those around us without the courage to boldly say what needs to be said. You will never change people’s lives by sitting comfortably.”