ATLAS Fellows | 2023 Impact Survey Report
ATLAS Fellows surveyed summer 2023 Fellows and Mentors for qualitative and quantitative feedback about their program experience.
Founded in 2021 with support from Balyasny Asset Management, ATLAS Fellows Inc. (“ATLAS Fellows” or “ATLAS”) aims to make careers in the financial industry accessible to talented young adults from a variety of diverse and under-resourced backgrounds. As a Fellow, students receive up to $20,000 a year in college tuition and are guaranteed four years of paid, full-time summer internships at world-renowned financial institutions. Each summer, Fellows are paired with a mentor at their internship placement, part of the program’s ongoing effort to cultivate a community for Fellows, not only during their internship tenure, but also throughout the school year and following graduation.
At the conclusion of our summer 2023 programming, ATLAS surveyed all Fellows and mentors for feedback on topics including summer training, programming, support and staff, and overall impact. This report synthesizes key findings from ATLAS Fellow surveys and mentor surveys. 61 Fellows (30 freshman Fellows and 31 sophomore and junior Fellows) completed the Fellow survey for an overall response rate of 100%. 50 mentors completed the mentor survey for an overall response rate of 89%. Any response rate above 80% is widely considered as the gold standard for social science research.
- Mentors overwhelmingly believe in ATLAS’s mission and in the program’s ability to produce a credible pipeline of diverse, young talent. Mentors see Fellows growing in their skills and knowledge and positively impacting host institutions.
- Fellows see ATLAS’s impact on their knowledge, skills, and network, and believe that ATLAS effectively prepares them for futures as finance professionals.
- Both Mentors and Fellows recognize that networking building, career coaching, and core technical skills can help set the foundation for success and career longevity. However, it is an evolving process, with select skills and components more helpful to some over others.
Both mentors and Fellows have strong belief in ATLAS’s mission and that ATLAS is effectively working to change the face of finance. Additionally, most Fellows and mentors saw their summer role as personally and professionally fulfilling. Many mentors reported a desire to return to their role next summer, while most Fellows reported that their experience improved their knowledge, skills, network, and desire to pursue a financial profession.
Impact from the Mentors’ Perspective
- 94% of mentors agreed that ATLAS helped them become a better manager of diverse, young talent.
- 48 out of 50 of mentors said that they were likely to apply what they have learned from the ATLAS program to other areas of their work. 96% of mentors said they would or probably would return as a mentor again.
- 100% of mentors believe ATLAS provides a credible and effective pipeline of diverse, young talent.
In their own words, most mentors (more than 90%) described how they were positively impacted by hosting an ATLAS Fellow, often describing feelings of fulfillment, excitement to hone coaching and management skills, and inspiration.
- “This really widened my horizon to figure out how to develop people who are particularly young and limited in technical capabilities. I really enjoyed it and found a tremendous amount of meaning in doing so, more so with the social mission of expanding access.”
- “It was a very rewarding experience for me. I learned new skills around managing people. I enjoyed sharing my professional experience during our conversations outside of work as if I was sharing that with my younger self.”
Fellows’ Impact on Workplaces
“There were so many amazing, intelligent young people in the office. I love looking at the diversity we have today and that programs like these target young people to work at an amazing place like Balyasny.”
“I think we all learned from them as they learned from us. We get a different perspective from this group about our business, and we can have an impact socially.”
Most mentors (>95%) also saw their workplaces as positively impacted by hosting Fellows, seeing Fellows as a helpful value-add to business bringing energy, perspective, and opportunities for teaching to offices. Some respondents even noted that Fellows changed the opinions of some current staff about the value of junior employees. Only one mentor felt that Fellows were a burden for their organization.
Impact from the Fellows’ Perspective
- 89% of Fellows said they were more likely to pursue a career in finance because of their summer experience. Only 6% answered said they were likely, and the remaining 5% were unsure.
- More than 90% of Fellows said their knowledge, skills, and network were positively impacted by ATLAS programming.
Figure 1: Fellows rated the impact of the ATLAS program on their knowledge, skills, and network.
Fellows expressed gratitude for the opportunities and learning that ATLAS provided.
- “For people like me and my family, where most individuals have not gone to college, any specialized job that required a college degree was often out of the picture. This experience has completely shattered that idea out of my mind, and I am excited for the future where I can work in specialized fields and pursue my career.”
- “I’ve always been afraid of stepping outside my comfort zone and introducing myself to new people, especially professionals. However, with the efforts my manager took this summer that put me in difficult situations, I learned to think quickly on my feet and embrace risk-taking.”
- “This summer made me realize that I truly love finance and I want to continue exploring the field. It’s been a transformative experience and now I have a much clearer vision of where I want to be and what the future may hold. This summer also taught me to seize opportunities and create opportunities of my own.”
Community and Skills Building
This past summer saw numerous programming additions to ATLAS offerings, including more social events, intensive one-on-one career coaching opportunities for incoming Fellows, and coding training. These changes were implemented following productive and critical feedback from both mentors and Fellows.
After receiving feedback last summer, this year ATLAS increased the number of social offerings for Fellows. More than 90% of Fellows found that social opportunities were effective in preparing them for their internships and careers. Many Fellows also requested additional social opportunities next summer.
In the words of one Fellow, “these were some of the highlights of my summer and I was able to meet and network with so many amazing people. It was always great to speak with other mentors and older fellows to learn from their experiences.”
Almost all (97%) of new Fellows found career coaches to be effective in providing support, encouragement, and goal setting help. Fellows expressed that career coaches bolstered their knowledge and were available for fielding questions or providing feedback. A few Fellows described coaches as shaping their summer trajectory by building their confidence and helping them to set and achieve goals.
In turn, over 80% of mentors who were surveyed saw career coaches as either effective or highly effective, describing them as insightful, useful, and a great addition to the program. The 20% who did not find coaches effective explained that they did not have contact with them, and many wished to utilize them more in the future.
ATLAS added a two-week python intensive this year for a subset of 15 freshmen ATLAS Fellows. Of those that took the course, some Fellows felt that the training was helpful and expanded their skill sets, but only 13% of Fellows found the coding class to be effective or highly effective in preparing them for their internship. Many did not use coding in their internship, found the training was unnecessary, too long, and/or that their time could be better spent in other ways.
Mentors echoed Fellows’ perspectives and expressed that though coding is an important skill to have, the training infringed on precious time that could have been spent working on internship projects.
As we approach the second half of the school year and future career opportunities, it is widely agreed upon that the ATLAS Fellows program provided Fellows with the network, critical skills, and programming necessary to successfully navigate the finance sector. However, we recognize that this is an evolving process, and each summer will work to identify areas within our program that can make a more significant impact on both Fellows and Mentors.
We are proud to have partnered this summer with Balyasny Asset Management, Baird, Loop Capital and our other incredible partners to help transform the finance sector – one young person at a time.
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