By Tim Unruh
A summer internship at United Capital Management, under the tutelage of Chad Koehn and some top-notch colleagues, involve way more than pencil sharpening and coffee runs.
His pupils are thrust onto the front lines of the financial and investment services company, where they meet and serve clients, and endeavor to make a difference.
In the process, they are propelled into money management, and meeting the goal of preserving and growing wealth for hard-working people.
“It was meaningful work, and you got to see some of the impact you were having on clients,” said Seth Thompson. “It was a glimpse of the real world. It was nice to see the difference between the classroom and an actual workplace.”
A Salina South graduate, he teamed with Josiah Hein during the summer of 2021, who turned the tassel at Lincoln, (NE) High School. They formed the UCM intern crew that season.
“It was great. I liked it, but it wasn’t easy,” Thompson said. “You definitely get thrown into the fire right away and get tested. You talk with a lot of people and have the opportunity to contribute to the company.”
Among Koehn’s goals for the program is for youngsters to stay hungry to learn and continue in the business.
And many have done just that.
Thompson and Hein moved on to complete college degrees — at Kansas State University and University of Nebraska at Lincoln, respectively, both in finance — and landed full-time jobs in the finance industry.
Amy Haskell, a summer 2022 intern, chose to stay put and pursue a career in the finance industry. She is working full-time as an executive assistant and project manager in UCM’s Wichita office — 2707 W. Douglas Ave, Suite B — with intentions to pass a Series 66 (a securities license exam) this fall.
A few months after her internship, Haskell completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology in December of 2022, from Kansas State University.
“It’s a good industry to be in. Finances are everywhere and it is important to educate yourself while also being able to help and educate others,” she said. “My summer was spent learning the ins and outs of the office space, learning the operational duties behind the scenes, having unique and involved client meetings, and becoming an integral part of the Wichita team.”
Haskell was among five interns in 2022, but she was the only one in Wichita. The other four spent their summer at UCM headquarters in Salina (227 N. Santa Fe).
“I kind of did a little bit of everything that summer, I wore a lot of different hats.” she said. “As an assistant, what surprised and intrigued me about this business was how much it involved educating people and caring about them at an individual level. It’s about teaching others how to strategically save money throughout their lifetime and create a plan to live the life that the client feels they deserve.”
Thompson is working as a business analyst in international finance for Wing Stop, at corporate headquarters in Dallas. Hein helps manage surplus investments for Ameritas Investment Partners, a division of Ameritas Life Insurance in Lincoln, with the goal of working his way up to portfolio manager.
“I like investment analysis,” he said. “Right now, I’m mainly doing private equity funds and eventually I’ll start working my way into mergers, acquisitions and mineral rights.”
The experience in Salina has proven valuable for many. UCM was able to whet the appetites of interns and produced a hunger to stay the course through college and pursue careers in finance and investment.
“Chad was a good mentor and role model,” Hein said. “(The internship) looks very good on a resume. You push yourself and put your name on projects.”
Koehn started in the profession in 1992, and began an internship program six years later, for a number of reasons; the biggest being necessity.
“After my sophomore year at Tabor College, I knocked on the doors of at least seven financial service firms in Dodge City and Garden City. I called Wichita, and there were no organizations that would accommodate me, even if I volunteered,” he said. “Internships were foreign to everybody I spoke to.”
His most attractive option to make money during the offseason was “very labor intensive, agriculturally-related jobs.”
The closest Koehn came to work in his field was working in the quality control department at Monfort Beef in Greeley, CO.
“I only got that internship because of inside connections from college training,” he said. “They were looking for basically scientific skills.”
Koehn tried commodity brokers, stock brokers, and CPAs, but there were no good fits for students in investment and finance.
“Shortly after I entered the industry, I started offering internships, Koehn said. “I saw a real need.”
Most summers, he hired one intern, but there were summers with several at one time.
“In the beginning years, especially before technological advancements, the work was secretarial in nature. But over time, we started to focus on people who for sure had the desire to work in the industry in some capacity,” Koehn said. “In recent years, we’ve had interns doing what would be equivalent to masters- or doctoral degree-level research. It is pretty intensive, major stuff, like market and tax statistical research, that helped them get higher level jobs after college.”
The internship program offered UCM leaders a glimpse of what’s going on in academia as it relates to finance and investments.
“It keeps us in touch with what college is teaching, or not teaching,” Koehn said. “It also provides us with prospects as the company grows, gives us potential people to employ, and gives our offices an infusion of youthful enthusiasm.”
“Connections” also helped him find interns.
Among Amy Haskell’s colleagues in the Wichita office is her father, Raymond Haskell, an investment advisor and representative, and a veteran of 30 years in the business, eight with UCM.
That touch of kinship is evident with Hein and Thompson, whose families have a longstanding relationship with Koehn.
“I met Chad at a rodeo in Lincoln (NE) when I was a little kid,” Josiah said.
When he switched his college major to finance, Josiah received a good share of mentoring from the Salina entrepreneur.
“I’d been investing for awhile, and I ran a lot of ideas by Chad, got his opinion on things,” Hein said.
After growing tired of landscaping in the summer, he landed an internship with UCM.
Seth is the son of Gary and Toni Thompson, and they have enjoyed a long friendship with Koehn.
The young Thompson made the most of his internship.
“I took one of my licensing exams (the Series 65) that summer,” Seth said, “and by the time I finished my internship, I felt like I had some pretty applicable experience in the finance industry.”
FACTOID: This summer’s UCM interns:
• Josh Weiser, 22, of Salina, a 2020 graduate of Salina Sacred Heart High School, and a senior at the University of Kansas, majoring in finance with a minor in sports management.
He’s the son of Laura Weiser, of Salina.
• Landon Allen, 19, of Salina, is a 2023 graduate of Southeast of Saline High School, near Gypsum. He will enter Fort Hays State University this fall, majoring in business finance, and is a preferred walk-on to the Tigers’ football team.
Landon is the son of Jim and Adrienne Allen, of Salina.
• Ty Sides, of Phillipsburg, KS, is a 2021 graduate of Phillipsburg High School. Parents are Keith and Robin Sides.
Ty is studying finance at Kansas State University.
Students interested in applying for a UCM internship may inquire by calling the Salina office at 785-823-7900 by visiting ucmofkansas.com