In a profession where just one in 20 financial advisors are under the age of 30, Ashley Lenzer stands out—she knew she wanted to be a financial advisor before setting foot in a college classroom, a feeling confirmed by an internship with a professional advisor.

Lenzer, 23, graduated this year from Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, with a degree in finance and accounting, but in her case you could say that advising runs in the family.

“I knew I wanted to do this about five years ago,” Lenzer says. “My dad was working for Edward Jones and he went to an advisor meeting. They asked him if he wanted to bring anyone, and he chose to bring me. I got to learn a little about what it was like to be an advisor, and it really intrigued me.”

Lenzer hasn’t had to look far for her first post-graduation job; she’s taken a financial services assistant position at Glass Financial Advisors, a Voya Financial Services-affiliated firm in nearby Cleveland. The firm’s principal, Michelle Glass, interned Lenzer last summer through the college intern program run by the Women Advisors Network, a group of Voya-affiliated financial professionals.

“My business is booming; I saw an internship as a growth strategy for my practice,” Glass says. “Voya supports their advisors and wants their advisors to grow their practices. The internship was a win-win situation.”

In the internship program’s inaugural year in 2014, Lenzer and three other female students were paired with professionals in the Women Advisors Network. Of the four students, two have taken jobs at Voya working with advisors; one continued as an intern through this year before landing a full-time marketing position; and the fourth is returning to the internship program this summer, as Voya expands it to include five students.

Tom Halloran, president of Voya Financial Advisors, says the internship program is part of the company’s effort to bring more women into the profession. “This program is part and parcel to something that’s been bigger for us—the Voya Women Advisors Network,” Halloran says. “We’ve spent a lot of time at meetings trying to figure out how to attract female advisors to the company.”

Voya’s efforts to increase gender diversity may be working—17.8% of its advisors are female while the industry average is about 14%, Halloran says. What’s more, Voya’s top representative for the past two years has been Joyce Thomas, from California.

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