Interns at Mercantile Bank of Michigan hit the ground running.
Mercantile Bank of Michigan started its summer internship program with the objective of giving college students exposure to the financial services industry. But more than that, its program is designed to recruit students from diverse backgrounds and provide them with meaningful hands-on work experience and exposure to opportunities that will impact their communities.
For eight to 10 weeks, students take a break from books and classes and hit the ground running in a real-world workplace. Beginning on the interns’ first day, they start getting exposure to multiple departments and various functions throughout the bank, including human resources, commercial and mortgage lending, and bank operations.
Misti Stanton, diversity and inclusion officer at Mercantile, has been overseeing the program for the past five years. “At Mercantile Bank, we place a strong emphasis on being an active leader and supporter of the communities we serve,” she says. “Our program focuses on providing students with the tools they need for future success. It’s our hope to develop students by exposing them to a professional work environment and teaching practical work skills such as teamwork, customer service, multi-tasking, punctuality, and time management.” She reports that, every year, Mercantile Bank receives up to 400 applicants from colleges and universities across the country for their positions throughout Michigan.
As a community bank, giving back to the diverse communities it serves is embedded in Mercantile’s culture. Because of this, community service is a key component of its summer internship program. For many interns, this experience may be their first professional opportunity. In an effort to help connect students to community, Mercantile provides them with a variety of meaningful volunteer and community-focused projects. Each year students engage in a service project, exposing them to non-profit organizations that are working on addressing various community needs.
Amari Brown, who is a Hope College junior and human resources intern at Mercantile says of her experience, “Diversity is a great teacher and knowledge of how to work with people from different backgrounds, ways of thinking, and cultures is an essential tool for today’s professionals. Misti Stanton intentionally creates a diverse program, picking top talent from all walks of life. With projects, lunch and learns, and community events, interns are empowered to grow their knowledge and expand their worldview.”
With its summer internship program, the community bank recognizes training talented professionals from diverse backgrounds will better help its customers navigate the financial decisions that affect their lives. As Mercantile Bank looks to the future, the company believes that mentoring the next generation makes it a better bank, while at the same time, improving communities from the ground up.