We like to say that the Brighton Jones internship program is a microcosm of our larger organizational structure and the ways in which we collaborate across teams. Those who go through the program have an opportunity to work within each of the firm’s department and functional areas, contribute in meaningful ways to projects and initiatives of strategic importance, and join in the regular moments of community and connection. Career development is central to the mission of our Get and Keep People teams, and that goal extends to our interns. What’s more, the summer cohort is just blocks away from the waterfront during Seattle’s best weather months!
We were lucky to welcome Elizabeth Norris, Rael Rubin, and Katy Valencia as interns this past summer. Before heading back to campus for senior year, they sat down to answer a few questions on their work, share insights they gained about the wealth management industry, and offer advice to next summer’s interns.
Walk us through a typical day in the life of a Brighton Jones intern.
Elizabeth: One of the great things about being a Brighton Jones intern is that no two days look exactly the same! Rather than sitting at my desk and working on one project the entire summer, my days included meetings, shadowing experiences, and team projects.
I always made sure that I knew what needed to get done and that I was on the same page as my fellow interns and the Brighton Jones employee responsible for that week’s rotation (aka, my team champion). I often schedule meetings with people I need to chat with, clarify assignments, and collaborate with the intern team to complete our work.
Rael: Each morning included a check-in with Jenah Smith to brief her on my day. That these conversations often included non-work topics and cold brew was a sweet bonus. After responding to emails and planning out my day, I continued working on my given project for that section of my internship. If a problem occurred or I had questions, it was always easy for me to walk over to my team champion and get the answers I was looking for.
Katy: As a rotational intern, we were exposed to each department at Brighton Jones. We spent time with business development, marketing, client service, operations, and what the firm calls “Get People/Keep People (recruiting and retention).
Depending on what rotation we were in, we would have different champions (full-time employees in each department). We would have regular check-ins to better understand the goals and priorities of each department and where we could contribute in an impactful way. What I valued most was that no two days were the same.
What project(s) did you enjoy most during your internship?
Elizabeth: One of the projects I dedicated time toward and really enjoyed was the Women Living a Richer Life initiative, a project whose goal is to financially empower women, both clients and community members.
I had the opportunity to brainstorm fun events for female clients, such as wine tastings and concerts, as well as analyze data to target specific issues our clients face. I loved contributing to a project I was passionate about and could see firsthand how Brighton Jones is tackling broader issues within our society.
In addition, I worked alongside Jed Collins, CFP® in his financial education workshops for young adults. During six on-site sessions over the summer, Jed guided attendees through the principles of personal finance and coached them on how to address life’s major money questions. As part of the project, I collaborated on a workbook and conceptualized interactive activities to help illustrate the key lessons in the curriculum. Most of all, it was a joy to share our collective passion for finance with young students.
Katy: My favorite project was working with Tama Smith and Manisha Thakor on the new Women Living a Richer Life initiative. We researched potential events and content, as well as analyzed survey data to create a clearer picture of the key financial questions and hurdles facing women today and devise strategies to educate and empower women on all aspects of personal finance.
What surprised you most about the Brighton Jones work environment and culture?
Elizabeth: When I interviewed, it was clear that culture was paramount at Brighton Jones. Everyone I interacted with was kind and fun to talk to. However, I don’t think I was prepared for how much I would love the work environment! Starting from day one of my internship, I was welcomed in and felt like part of the team. No one treated me any differently as an intern, and I felt respected and valued. Everyone is invested in their work, as well as fun to be around—truly the perfect environment in which to grow.
Rael: Being able to talk to anyone in the firm, no matter what position they were in, and ask them questions about what they were doing or if they could include me in meetings. It was incredible working with others who genuinely value interns and are eager to help them learn and develop their skills. Aside from work, being able to start a conversation with anyone about your weekend and by the end of it being completely off topic is incredible and builds a sense of family at the workplace.
Katy: The energy at Brighton Jones is incredible! On my first day, we went around the office and introduced ourselves, and everyone was so welcoming and excited to have us on board.
From weekly happy hours to group outings like concerts and golfing, there was always something fun to look forward to. I was able to create meaningful relationships with people throughout the office and have made many new friends from my experience.
Did you come away with any insights about the wealth management industry that defy conventional wisdom?
Elizabeth: I’m not going to lie, I have read and heard a lot about the finance industry that made me nervous to choose that career path. Brighton Jones erased all those worries, as I saw a company that valued employees’ and clients’ wellbeing first and foremost.
Rael: What was beneficial for me was seeing how Brighton Jones takes a different approach to client services. No matter the client’s situation, the entire Personal CFO team builds a plan and works to address challenges.
Working in an open office with the free flow of ideas is extremely refreshing, and there’s never a dull moment. When I first came to Brighton Jones, I was unaware of how passionate and caring the people are who work here. We truly take a different approach to make sure our clients are living a richer life, both financially and emotionally.
What’s your favorite lunch spot within walking distance of the office?
Elizabeth: I loved being able to walk to any of the shops or restaurants at Pike Place Market, particularly The Pink Door.
Rael: The Pink Door
Katy: Local 360
You’re tasked with sharing advice with next summer’s interns—what would you say to them?
Elizabeth: My biggest piece of advice would be to get involved right off the bat. Volunteer, ask people to coffee, attend every meeting you can, and be proactive in forming relationships at the office. Not only is it a lot more fun to have a group of friends at work each day, but you learn so much from the people around you. It makes a huge difference to be plugged in and excited to come to work each morning.
Rael: Include yourself in as many Brighton Jones events as you can. Some of the most fun I had over the summer was during spontaneous happy hours with coworkers or grabbing lunch during the day. Brighton Jones welcomes new ideas and loves when you put yourself out there to be included in projects and meetings. There is never an irrelevant question, and everyone in the office would be more than happy to take some time out of their day to explain something to you. Come hungry to learn!
Katy: Everyone at Brighton Jones wants to get to know and help you, so take advantage of it! Ask questions and seek out advice. Be outgoing and build relationships. Everyone has an interesting story about how they got to Brighton Jones, and they want to share their wisdom with you!
What’s next for you in terms of school or your career?
Elizabeth: I’m going into my senior year at Seattle Pacific University and will be studying abroad for the fall quarter in Verona, Italy! After getting home, I will complete one more quarter and then graduate early, finishing with a degree in business finance and a minor in English literature. I am hoping to continue working in wealth management and eventually work my way into an advisor role.
Rael: I will be graduating from Washington State University next year with a degree in finance and management information systems. My goal is to first complete the series 65 and then move on to completing my CFP®.
Katy: I will be heading into my senior year at the University of Washington and will graduate in June with a degree in finance. I am excited to take everything I have learned during my internship and apply it to my classes. I have loved learning about wealth management and am interested in following this career path.
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