As the summer wraps up, we thought it would be fun to give you an inside look into our company through the eyes of our latest intern, Maxx Kempton. Maxx was part of the Walsh Duffield team for eight weeks this summer and has a unique experience to share.
Hi, I’m Maxx
When you were in high school what did you want to be when you grew up? Chances are you didn’t say you wanted to work in the insurance industry. My name is Maxx Kempton – I am going into my Senior year at Clarence High School and Walsh Duffield’s most recent intern. I am only 17 years old which might seem a little young to have an internship, but I am a part of the Academy of Business and Finance at Clarence High School where internships are required. I don’t mind this, because I also appreciate the value that an internship has to offer. For my future, I plan to study finance and business which lead me to this opportunity at Walsh Duffield.
I was introduced to Walsh Duffield by my father, Christopher Kempton, who is the Director of the Group Benefits Division here. I know what you might be thinking, and I did not come here to be my Dad’s personal assistant! (As a matter of fact, I rarely saw him during my internship). I have found that internships are a great way to get into the working community to experience what it’s like to be out in the real world, to get a taste of what an office is like, to test the waters of an industry and to get your foot in the door of a company. I was very excited to begin this Internship and once it started, it did not disappoint.
What I Learned About the Insurance Industry
So why is it that no one wants to go into insurance? I’m in high school and I don’t know a single person who even considers a career in insurance. I bet half the kids in my school don’t even know what insurance is! My theory is that everyone thinks insurance is boring, but in reality, I don’t think the students even know enough about the industry to call it boring. Through my internship I’ve realized how wrong people are about the insurance industry. It is not boring – not at all. It is complex, collaborative, and actually quite interesting!
Walsh Duffield is an Independent Insurance Agency which is basically an insurance broker. They act as the middleman between the insurance carriers and private organizations or individuals who need insurance. Walsh Duffield represents the client and finds the best insurance plans for their needs. The insurance carriers then provide the actual insurance coverage. There are two sides of the business: commercial lines and personal lines. Commercial being business insurance for more of the private corporations and personal lines being on a more individual level like car and homeowners insurance. There is also employee benefits division which deals with health insurance, retirement plans including 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, Pensions, and more.
You can ask any adult and I’m sure that they would say that insurance is crucial. Insurance is defined as a guarantee of compensation for specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for payment of a premium. It is basically financial protection for if anything were to happen. When companies don’t have the time or knowledge to find a plan for themselves they hire someone else to do it, hence the insurance agent, also known as Walsh Duffield.
Getting to Know Walsh Duffield
On my first day of the internship, I was enlightened with new knowledge. I was in meetings all day with different people at the office coming from different departments. I first met with Sean Keenan, Vice President of Walsh Duffield, who told me about the culture of the company. Then I went onto speak to someone from the benefits, personal lines, commercial lines, and administration departments to get a good understanding on what the company does.
Walsh Duffield is a family owned business which is quite noticeable. As soon as land on their website it states, “Our Family Takes Care of Yours”. This characterizes Walsh as a family and I saw this to be true throughout my internship. Everyone is very friendly to each other and everyone here seems to be happy with their work life. This also has a large impact on the productivity. Everybody works hard and gets their job done so this company can function properly and the customers are satisfied.
My internship was directed by Felicia Jones, the Organizational Development Manager. She gave me many opportunities throughout the internship which really boosted my overall experience with Walsh. It is apparent that she put in a lot of time and work to set up an internship program. She is also a great teacher, and I’ve learned that she does a lot of teaching not only to me, but to the employees of this company. She is also a great resource for the employees here for if they wanted to improve on something or learn more about proper behavior in business professional situations.
Walsh Duffield has two main offices, one here in Buffalo and another in Rochester. I was fortunate enough to be able to also visit Rochester and I was truly amazed. The office is in a beautiful building with many great employees working there. Another aspect of the Rochester office that I noticed was the space. This means a lot for this company. It means that they have room to grow. Walsh Duffield seems to have always been growing and from what I see there is no sign of them stopping. In turn, this will provide jobs, opportunities, and of course the availability to gain more clients.
Walsh Duffield has a terrific environment all around. The company cares deeply about the well-being of its employees through its extensive wellness program. This program has a team of employees in itself in order to provide a safe and healthy surrounding for the company. They also seem to be on the forefront of new workplace practices, including:
- Walking meeting rooms, where you can walk on treadmills during a meeting,
- Office owned bikes, that employees may take out during breaks to enjoy a nice bike ride with various bike routes provided by the wellness team,
- And meal plans which include recipes and eating suggestions.
Since I am looking to go into business, working in an office was a great experience for me. Even though this is no skyscraper in New York City, I was still in an office environment which was amazing. Speaking of cities, this office is in a great location within the city of Buffalo. There are so many different restaurants, all with great food and within walking distance of Walsh Duffield. This is no sketchy city either, I feel perfectly safe walking around these streets by myself! However, if you weren’t looking to go out to eat, there is a large full kitchen break room where you may enjoy a bagged lunch.
And it’s not only the Buffalo office with the nice surroundings – the Rochester office also has a couple great places for food that are walking distance from the office with downtown Rochester only 3 miles away. In addition to that, there is a beautiful park right next door to the building. With the healthy, safe, and fun environment that Walsh provides, it allows for a great place to grow as a professional.
So, What Have I actually Been Doing All Summer, You Ask?
Being at Walsh for the past several weeks I have realized the extraordinary amount of opportunities I was given to explore. Many of these opportunities came to me through Felicia. Some that she brought forth to me included a volunteer activity, creating a LinkedIn profile, and a DiSC profile. First, the volunteer activity came through Felicia’s involvement in Junior Achievement in which she teaches children about college, career, and future plans. I went to assist her with teaching the students which was a great experience. I was also able to create a LinkedIn profile and having LinkedIn will be very useful in the future as I job search and make more connections in the business world. I’ve already connected to the whole office! Finally, I did a DiSC profile which was very interesting. This profile is where you answer a few questions about yourself and it gives you your communication style.
In addition, I was able to sit in on many meetings and presentations. Many of the presentations taught me about communication in the workplace, interviews, resumes, and career exploration – all in which are very beneficial to me, especially at this point of my life. Another great plus to having an internship is the networking. Networking is HUGE! A well-known quote says, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. In this internship, I have met so many people. I was helped greatly by many of the people sitting around me throughout the internship including Maryellen, Lisa, and of course, one of the coolest employees to sit next to, Dan. I also learned that Ted Walsh, President and CEO prefers tea over coffee (and not because I was fetching it for him!) In addition, these people are also in the working community giving me great connections for if and when I need them.
Another great opportunity I had in this internship was to actually do something that was meaningful to the company. When I wasn’t out on little work trips, volunteering, or in meetings and presentations, I was actually doing work. I was given multiple projects from my internship project manager, Lisa Petronio. Yes, there were a couple stereotypical internship jobs like scanning but hey, someone’s gotta do it! Some meaningful projects I worked on included making sure client service agreements included data security provisions, reviewing SOC audits for deficiencies and summarizing the findings, and researching prospects for the company(for some of these I actually had to contact other companies!)
To conclude, Walsh Duffield gave me outstanding opportunities considering I was just an intern for a couple of weeks. I learned a lot about the insurance industry and working in an office, and it was well worth my time here.