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Des Moines-Area Insurers Find Fresh Talent through Internships

Doug Reichardt of Holmes Murphy and Associates with interns Mark Whitlock of Illinois State, Joe Langel of UNI, and Adam Nolan of the UI College students who never considered going into the insurance field are finding it a good fit. Hundreds of junior executives that Des Moines-area insurers recruit each year to fill the pipeline with young talent. It's a constant chore. An insurance career is rarely at the top of the list for most young people, even insurance brokerage Holmes Murphy and Associates' typical intern class.

"None of them went to college thinking they'd end up in insurance," said Doug Reichardt, Holmes Murphy chief executive officer. Reichardt wasn't thinking much about insurance, either, until he took a summer job at Holmes Murphy while studying business at the University of Iowa. His internship was decidedly less comprehensive than what interns can expect today: His first duties there included shining shoes for the boss and driving him to medical appointments.

Something besides shoe polish rubbed off on Reichardt, though, and in 1977, fresh from college, he joined the company and eventually became its top executive. Jim Swift, president at Holmes Murphy, also is a former intern.

"We'll have 20-30 interns a year," Reichardt said. They typically work at headquarters for one summer and then get shipped to a satellite office during their second year, and each year the company will hire two to eight of those second-year interns.

Internships prevail throughout corporate America, and these job tryouts accomplish several tasks. They give employers an opportunity to measure a potential candidate before any commitment is made. For students, they can determine whether insurance is a business that makes sense for them, and whether a particular company is the right fit.

A photo with the article shows Doug Reichardt with summer interns Mark Whitlock of Illinois State University, Joe Langel of the University of Northern Iowa, and Adam Nolan of the University of Iowa.

A sidebar to the article notes that students can study about insurance at more than 100 colleges and universities, according to the Life Office Management Association, which offers distance learning. In Iowa, Drake University and the University of Iowa offer courses in insurance and risk management.


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