Building a pipeline of insurance talent

Working in insurance means knowing that you’re there for people in the worst of times, delivering on promises made. It means taking pride in being part of a noble profession.

But can an industry sustain itself on noble ideals alone?

The data say no.

“More people need to know how great the insurance industry is,” says Jeff Vogts, vice president of talent development. He joined the insurance industry after working in manufacturing. “This is what I had been looking for my entire career.”

If losing talent is part of the problem, then finding, training, and retaining talent must be part of the solution, right?

“I believe that our employees are the reason for our successes,” says Jeff Menary, president and CEO. “So, it is imperative that we continue to develop our current staff and attract new talent. Failing to do that fails our mutual members, our agents, our policyholders, and our employees.”

Building a pipeline

A robust — and growing — co-op and internship program is one way Grinnell Mutual keeps its pipeline full, bringing the next generation of insurance talent to the company.

Introducing the company to the next generation of insurance talent is a key part of recruiting efforts. Since launching an internship program in 2012, we have met thousands of current students and recent graduates, received hundreds of resumes, and employed 75 co-ops and interns. And 19 of those have become full-time employees.

“Part of what we do at career fairs is telling students what a great life they can have in the insurance industry,” Vogts says. “They can have a career with purpose and meaning. They can support their families. They can make a difference in the lives of others.”

“It’s a win-win,” says Brett Hilgendorf, a talent acquisition specialist who manages the co-op and internship program. “We get to see if students would be a fit for our company in the future — and they get to see it, too. They’ve been exposed to our company, our culture. It puts us on their radar.”

The co-op and internship program also creates shared pool of knowledge. Seventeen percent of Grinnell Mutual employees have at least 25 years of service, so co-ops and interns can access a deep pool of employee knowledge. In turn, new talent brings experience and perspectives that can help the company adapt to rapid changes in the insurance industry and marketplace.

Co-op to Full-time

Not only is Hilgendorf helping build Grinnell Mutual’s talent pipeline — she’s also a product of it.

The Camanche, Iowa, native first learned about Grinnell Mutual at an University of Iowa career fair. Majoring in Human Resource Management at the time, Hilgendorf was only interested in a short list of companies.

That all changed when she passed the Grinnell Mutual booth. The employees staffing the booth struck up a conversation with her.

When Grinnell Mutual invited her to attend its co-op interview day, she accepted. Her experience at the home office that day helped her feel a connection to the people she might work with.

“I was impressed — shocked, really — when I pulled up. It’s a beautiful space. I had interviews, but they felt like conversations,” she says. “When I got the offer, it was a no-brainer.”

Hilgendorf’s co-op experience exceeded her expectations.

“I worked on projects and shadowed the different departments in talent development. I was excited about the opportunities I got.”

View our career opportunities Learn about our co-op program