Academy Securities, an investment bank founded by military veterans to employ veterans in finance, brought in an inaugural class of summer interns who are both college students and veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The bank wants to group military veterans alongside longtime industry pros to increase the chances of soldiers to build careers in finance, said Frank McKenna, director of public finance at Academy Securities.
"We bring in a lot of young veterans who have a lot of skills which can be translated into the financial services industry," he said, "and give them the chance to get integrated into that industry while they're in school after serving in the military."
It can be difficult in today's job market for employers to recognize and understand the skills members of the U.S. armed forces have learned while serving in combat overseas, said Michael Boyd, chief compliance officer at Academy Securities. Trying to find work upon returning home in a difficult job market compounds their predicament, he said.
"The job market — especially in finance — is not good at all," Boyd said. "And a lot of these kids are going to school at night, or going to school part-time or are looking for full-time work. We give them their first experience in finance, give them a chance to get exposure to get their licenses. And ideally, we'd like to have them stay with the firm and grow with the firm."
Each of the four interns serves in a branch of the armed forces, lives in New York City, and studies at a school in the region.
Academy rotates them through its different areas of coverage. It placed one intern in the municipal bond group, where he's getting exposure to the basics of public finance, Boyd said. Soon, he'll spend time on the trading desk and alongside underwriters.
"And then we'll rotate people," Boyd said. "So he'll go somewhere else, maybe to our corporate finance area or our equity area. And then another young person will rotate into public finance and the municipal bond desk."
Academy officials said in May that veterans, even those in their early 20s, arrive poised from their experience leading large groups, working on significant and sizable projects and managing large budgets. Most have experience with advanced technology, including communications and information systems, and often must multitask, be organized, efficient and focused.
Jeffrey Herrschaft, who's served in the Navy, studies business management at City College of New York and lives in Brooklyn. In the three months he been an intern at Academy, he's enjoyed learning about the mergers and acquisition business.
"There's a lot to learn," Herrschaft said. "There's so much out there; you have to know a lot. I like going through financial statements and finding what needs to be amended to make a merger or acquisition happen."
But though he's greatly appreciated the opportunity Academy has given him, he said he's open to learning more in other industries, as well.
"I don't know enough to know if I would just stay in finance; it's not set in stone," Herrschaft said. "I'd want to see as much as possible, what's available out there."
That suits Academy Securities just fine. Even if they don't wind up in the industry, Boyd said, the interns will have had an opportunity to get working experience at a brokerage firm.