This Industry Needs More Mariamas

Mariama Bah is proof that Gateway to Leadership (GTL), MMI’s flagship workplace diversity program, is working. However, to improve industry diversity, more firms need to participate in the program – bringing its impact to bear on more students like Mariama will make a meaningful difference in our industry. To encourage greater participation, GTL is offering a new Direct Enrollment track to make it happen. The Direct Enrollment track is a new alternative that allows firms to enroll their self-sourced and self-hired interns directly into the program to benefit from its invaluable educational content and development activities. Read on to learn more about this new, affordable option.

Who is Mariama Bah?

Mariama, an African American woman, attends a small HBCU (Historically Black College and University) in the rural farmlands of Pennsylvania. She was born and raised in Guinea, West Africa and moved to New York during her junior year of high school. When she moved, Mariama only spoke French, but has since become fluent in English.

Mariama applied to the GTL program last year. When we first spoke with her, she was shy and soft-spoken, but her strong will and determination became evident as soon as she started talking about her background and why she needed this opportunity. Mariama is the first member of her family to attend college and is highly motivated to succeed after she graduates, specifically within the wealth management industry. However, she feared her differences might limit her access to the industry. 

We were won over by Mariama’s willpower and accepted her into the 2016 Class of the GTL program. Mariama completed her internship at Fiserv Investment Services in Warren, NJ. One year later, she is about to graduate and is actively pursuing entry level positions in the industry. Mariama now goes into each interview with a new-found confidence, knowing the GTL program has provided her with the skills, education, and experiences needed to succeed in our industry.

“After participating in the GTL program, I am more confident that industry professionals are looking past my differences and my accent and instead looking at me for what I can do,” she said following her completion of the program. Mariama strongly encourages firms across the industry to participate in the program. Why? “Because minority students are hardworking, and if given the opportunity, they will do whatever it takes to contribute to the growth of your organization.”

For the past ten years, the GTL program’s feeder partners – the United Negro College Fund and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities – have been sourcing and selecting top African American and Hispanic students to place at MMI member firms for summer internships.

The Direct Enrollment track is a new alternative that allows firms to enroll their self-sourced and self-hired interns directly into the program to benefit from its invaluable educational content and development activities, known collectively as the GTL Experience

All feeder-sourced interns and directly-enrolled interns share and benefit from the GTL Experience:

  • Virtual opening and closing ceremonies
  • Online industry training (courses sponsored by Envestnet Institute On Campus)
  • Professional communications development (courses provided by Speakeasy’s SelfLink)
  • Educational NetMeetings and online publications
  • Mentorships
  • Industry news subscriptions (provided by FundFire) and current event discussions

Under the GTL umbrella, host firms provide the interns with their day-to-day work experience, and MMI provides the "extra mile" – industry knowledge, professional training and development activities, and industry exposure and experience. What is the benefit of going the extra mile for your interns? Your summer interns will return to the industry after graduation, eager and ready to start their careers, just like Mariama Bah.

For more information, please download the Host Firm Brochure and Commitment Form. ACT QUICKLY if you are interested in enrolling your interns into the GTL program this summer. Please contact Sarah Nau at sarahnau@mminst.org or 646-868-8508 if you have any questions.