Celebrating National Intern Day: Learn how a big idea helped fill a gap for new-to-career employees!
By Chelsey S., Sr. Manager, Employee Communications
When Dillon S. started as a Schwab intern in 2015, he was thrilled. He was going to get the experience he desired at a company that he knew had an outstanding reputation for integrity, and a passion for client-centric innovation.
He literally worked shoulder-to-shoulder with his fellow interns in Phoenix, where their desktop computers were set up next to each other in a conference room. “We were building work relationships, but we were also building friendships,” says Dillon. “We still talk to this day.”
Outside of the relationships with his cohort, Dillon’s manager encouraged him to network to get exposure to what goes on peripherally across Schwab.
“The internship was great at checking all of the boxes,” explains Dillon. “It was really attentive to all aspects of what it takes to build a successful career.”
But when he started as a full-time employee, Dillon found he missed the camaraderie, support, and structure that the Intern Academy provided.
He joined WINS (Women’s Interactive Network Employee Resource Group), where he got to be part of an active Schwab community. And after seeing how an ERG worked, he saw an opportunity.
Trusting that the work matters
“I told my managing director that I have this really big idea—I wanted to start an ERG for early-in-career professionals,” says Dillon. “She practically jumped out of her chair and said, ‘This is excellent, you need to go for it!”
A little while later, Dillon approached Katie Casey, Head of HR, after a WINS panel. He asked if he could send her his proposal.
“That’s one of those moments where Schwab stands out to me,” says Dillon. “A senior leader took the time to read a 14-page research proposal written by somebody who was only six months into his career. How many leaders at other companies would do that?”
Katie liked the idea and connected Dillon to D&I leadership. Eventually Jalina Kerr stepped in as executive sponsor and helped Dillon and his team define a strategy for a 6-month pilot in Phoenix for what became the “NEXT” ERG.
“We had our fair share of struggles at first,” explains Dillon. “But Jalina put our failures into perspective. We were navigating uncharted waters as inexperienced employees, and she encouraged us to push forward.”
After the pilot, NEXT began to scale nationally by building out a team of national leaders, executive sponsors, local chairs and other driven professionals.
In 2020, after nearly 5 years, 1,300+ members and 9 corporate locations, Dillon stepped down from his leadership position, making way for the “NEXT” generation of Schwabbies to take over leadership in the ERG.
Continue to Challenge the status Quo
“Schwab is a very unique place,” explains Dillon. “Interns and new-to-career employees bring a new perspective and passion to Schwab. It’s important to harness that, and to give them the confidence to make their voices heard. With a carefully thought-out plan and the right support, no idea is too big at Schwab.”
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