Virtual Internship Program a Success for the Bank

By Mona Tavss

There have been many incarnations of FHLBank San Francisco’s internship program over the years, according to Annette Rovai, Senior Director, Recruiting.

Photo of Annete Rovai“Since I joined the Bank in 2018, we’ve worked hard to grow the program each year but of course the pandemic impacted what we could do in 2020 – a year like no other when we made the difficult decision to pause the program, and 2021, when we were able to expand our outreach efforts beyond the Bay Area, because it was virtual.” With a cohort of just three interns this year, the Bank was able to offer each a robust program and opportunity to work collaboratively across several departments and contribute to several key deliverables. “This small group of students was perhaps our most impressive yet, and added real value to the host departments,” Annette added.

2021 intern Demontre Buckson partnered with the Member Business, Member Financial Services, and Community Investment departments. Playing football from age six through his senior year in college helped him develop strong teambuilding and leadership skills. Demontre believes in being authentic and leading with compassion and integrity in all areas of his life. He grew up in Rock Hill, South Carolina and graduated in 2020 from Howard University with a bachelor of business administration degree in finance.

Photo of Demontre BucksonDemontre is driven to give back to the community. “I chose a career in finance because of the lack of diversity in the field. I’d like to give back to the Black community by educating people on financial products and ultimately helping to create generational wealth. The Bank’s Black homeownership initiatives are a great example of how we can help underserved communities.” Demontre found his internship experience at the Bank valuable, discovering new skills through his work in each department.

As a result of completing the program, Demontre will be moving to the Bay Area and taking on a full-time position at the Bank.

During his FHLBank San Francisco internship, Eric Sarell worked with the Accounting Operations and Financial Reporting teams. Eric grew up in Long Beach, California. A SoCal guy through-and-through, he graduated from UCLA in 2019 with a major in Spanish and a minor in Accounting before entering the MBA program at Cal Poly – California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.

Photo of Eric SarellEric was drawn to the Bank’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. “Identity politics has been a big interest for me when looking at careers. When I saw the Bank’s altruistic mission of supporting underserved communities, its values, and how the Bank puts its money where its mouth is and actually follows through with diversity and inclusion solutions, I knew I found the right place.” Though the remote work was sometimes a struggle, Eric was grateful for the experience and all the help from his coworkers. “Everyone I worked with showed genuine interest in my success during this internship,” he says. Eric plans to continue learning the guitar while “internship hopping” and is considering whether to stay in Southern California or move on to a new adventure.

Ching Fung “Joe” Chan interned with the Credit and Collateral Department. Joe left Hong Kong to study Financial Engineering at UCLA Anderson School of Management, graduating with a master’s degree in December of 2020. He was drawn to the Bank because of the opportunity to build financial models around managing and minimizing credit risks, and optimizing portfolio returns to pricing complex securities.

Photo of Ching Fung Koe ChanHe says, “I’ve had a great experience, even though the internship is done remotely. I worked closely with the team daily. In my time here, I gained a deeper understanding on how the Bank estimates expected loss and probability of default. I certainly enhanced my Excel and programming skills through the projects I worked on.” He feels one of the key components of a great workplace is trust. “When challenges arise, working with people I trust creates the best chemistry. Then we can beat the toughest situations.” Joe recently accepted a job at S&P Global as an index calculation and distribution specialist.

As a senior recruiter, Annette is the owner of most things talent-related for the Bank, and says the selection process for the internship program is very similar to how she recruits other new team members. During the Bank's annual budgeting process, people managers are encouraged to plan for the opportunity to mentor and develop a promising student intern.

“Once a manager has decided to participate in the program, I work with them to develop a project plan," she says. "We discuss key attributes and areas of interest that the ideal individual would possess, then together we discuss what institutions offer the programs that would best meet these needs.” In past years, the Bank targeted local colleges and universities. For a virtual program, Annette could recruit nationwide.

After developing a qualified pool of students, she shares their profiles with potential departmental mentors and sets up interview blocks with a panel from each department. The interview team then considers areas of study, career aspirations, the Bank’s commitment to diversity, and the longer-term potential to offer full-time employment to a candidate after graduation.

On the other end of the equation, the current generation of new grads, perhaps more than other cohorts, seem to be drawn to companies that have a social purpose. “The number one reason candidates find opportunities at the Bank attractive is the role we play in increasing the supply of affordable housing, promoting equitable homeownership opportunity, and advancing economic development in lower-income communities,” she explains. “Whatever aspect of the business someone may be concentrating on, it’s our mission that matters most.”

December 2021 | FHLBank San Francisco