This Funding Shop Puts Students on the Phone for College Credit
“We figured out the best way is to recruit,” said Khoury.
Chris Khoury, CEO of Cheetah Capital, isn’t just hiring talent; he’s teaching it. He introduced a funding academy for college students in the summer of 2022. It’s an actual internship program that is specially tailored to recruit and train aspiring brokers and sales reps and teach them everything from the ground up.
Starting in the business three years ago, Khoury eventually went on to establish Cheetah Capital. He recognized the challenges in finding quality hires in the industry and decided to tackle it head-on with the creation of the program.
“[The interns] learn various skills such as cold calling, crafting professional emails, and acclimating to the corporate environment,” said Khoury. “Our program aims to provide valuable real-world experience that complements their academic learning to develop in business, marketing, and communication. They also gain experience understanding the world of financial services.”
The program is a collaboration between Khoury, Jonah Farella (Director of Sales & Business Development), and Joe Zampell (COO). The program is split into three “spots” (Spot 1, 2, & 3), where they each mentor 10-15 students and assess them on a weekly basis. Each student has an individual mentoring session each week and a team meeting every Monday.
Based in Boston, Cheetah Capital partners with local institutions such as UMASS, Boston University, Boston College, and Endicott College. Many of these schools have accredited their students with college credits upon validation from their team but interns are also compensated for their efforts.
“For Fall 2023, we’ve taken a slightly different approach,” said Khoury. “Rather than our usual remote/and in person internships, we’ve partnered with local Boston schools for a fully in-person co-op experience. These students dedicate their full semester to Cheetah Capital, working regular 9-5 hours, immersing themselves in a comprehensive professional environment.”
Chris Bearden, a current intern from Endicott, discovered the program on LinkedIn and secured an interview with Farella. Considering he is required to complete a 32-hour weekly internship in his senior year, Bearden has decided to cut his teeth in business in the world of b2b finance sales. He actually started at Cheetah this past June despite the internship program not officially starting until the fall. The program, he told deBanked, started off with a lot of training and he says it’s prepared him to be able to talk more confidently to business owners and in general. He mused about the “100 different stories” he’s heard daily. “Everyone will tell you something different,” he said.
“The most I’ve made on a sale so far is $8,000 off of one deal,” Bearden shared. “That was really exciting, I can’t really describe the feeling being 22 years old and coming off of a phone call understanding that I just made that much money. But I think one thing that they have taught me at Cheetah Capital is just to keep your head down and kind of keep going…”
Farella, who oversees the program, also started out as an intern himself. As a graduate from Boston College, he was mentored by Khoury and he adapted to the industry quickly. Once he started closing deals and making money he realized, “I’m making more money than I ever have.” Helping the interns in his program at the time later turned into an offer from Khoury on running the program.
“Right now, we cap at around 45-50 [students] and that’s because we only have them for about three months,” said Farella. “But as it grows, and we bring in more managers, what we want to do is kind of offer interns a return offer.”
Offering real-world work experience to students while building up quality employees has felt like a win-win for Cheetah.
“We try to take good well-rounded kids here and teach them what we wish we knew at their age,” said Khoury.Last modified: October 5, 2023
Anaya Vance is a reporter for deBanked. Connect with me on LinkedIn.