FinTech Internship Program
As part of our community development efforts to impact low- and moderate-income individuals in New England, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s FinTech Internship Program seeks to catalyze the upward social and economic mobility of young adults. The Bank is proud to continue its 30-year partnership with the Boston Private Industry Council and remains committed to providing opportunities to Greater Boston’s low-income youth so that they can attain long-term employment and financial stability.
Recognizing that employer investment in human capital can have a lasting, positive impact on financial and life-sustaining outcomes, we restructured our long-standing high school internship program with the goal of increasing the level and endurance of participant success. To accomplish this, we:
- strengthened the program’s enrichment component to better address the guidance, support, and training needs of low-income youth;
- adopted a more holistic approach to workforce preparation, emphasizing career building through training in essential soft and hard skills (see examples of these below); and
- expanded the program’s “technology and financial services” emphasis to encompass a broader set of transferable skills and offer opportunities to explore diverse occupational experiences throughout the Bank, reflecting multiple sectors of the job market.
The aim is to increase human capital as a result of the value afforded the interns through the program. Currently, we are assessing the impact of this combination of training, experience, and opportunity on the ability of young adults to make informed employment decisions and gain access to jobs that could lead to economic mobility.
“FinTech is advantageous to the Bank as an employer, but it also gives young people exposure to the corporate environment, giving them transferrable skills. From a corporate responsibility perspective, it means we’re doing [something] good for the local economy and business environment.” -Boston Fed First Vice President Ken Montgomery
Effectiveness and Outreach
A primary goal of the FinTech program is to explore innovations that could address persistent barriers to the social mobility of low-income youth. For example, we are currently investigating the potential impacts of mental health supports with strengthened personal and professional networks on job retention and employment mobility of these young adults.
Although the Bank created this program to benefit our Boston-area youth, we are working to achieve greater impact throughout Massachusetts and New England and will be using well-defined metrics and benchmarks to measure program impact. We are encouraged by early signs of the program’s effectiveness and hope to share these results with other employers and youth-serving workforce programs.
Soft Skills: Child Trends, et al., June 2015, Workforce Connections-Key “Soft Skills” That Foster Youth Workforce Success: Toward a Consensus Across Fields, states that there are key soft skills linked to the youth workforce outcomes of obtaining employment, getting promoted, earning wage increases, and achieving entrepreneurial success. Examples of FinTech training in soft skills include:
- Conflict resolution
- Communication (speaking and listening)
- Impacts of a positive attitude in the workplace
Hard Skills: Burning Glass Technologies, et al., March 2015, The Digital Skills Gap in the Workforce, states that possessing strong digital skills and a mastery of productivity software, such as Microsoft Office, can advance job-seeker eligibility. Examples of FinTech training in hard skills include:
- Productivity software skills (spreadsheets, document formatting, presentation slides)
- Business applications of email and shared calendars
1982: The Boston Fed, in partnership with the Boston PIC, launches an internship program for Boston high school students intended to provide a pipeline to employment through summer jobs at the Bank. The program is housed and managed under the auspices of the Bank’s “Public & Community Affairs” department—now “Regional & Community Outreach” (R&CO).
1990s: Classroom at the Workplace is implemented to address the PIC’s request that academic support—particularly with MCAS and SAT preparation—be provided in the program for interns who need it.
2006: In response to growing concern over low-income students’ lack of access to careers in the financial and technology sectors, R&CO revamps the internship program. The new FinTech Internship is designed to cultivate interested youth for careers in these growing segments of the job market.
2014: With a strategic goal of contributing to increasing human capital in the region, R&CO uses a variety of research techniques to inform further enhancements to the program that aim to help local youth achieve both workplace success and personal financial stability. These include conducting a review of youth workforce development literature and programs, with an eye on promising youth employment practices, and surveying our student interns and their Bank supervisors to better understand their unique needs.
This research informs the restructuring of the summer FinTech Internship Program’s enrichment component, which includes training in both soft-skills and hard-skills content with a just-in-time delivery approach (see below). Just-in-time delivery uses teachable moments to provide students with specific content right when they need it. For instance, the financial success workshops that include budgeting and savings content are presented during the first pay period. Similarly, interns learn effective networking skills as they prepare to exit the program and join the general workforce.
Those who do well during the summer programming are eligible for the year-round program which supports interns for three critical transitional years—junior year of high school through first year of post-secondary education—helping students maximize present and future employment opportunities.
Just-in-time Delivery Approach: Vernon Loke, et al., Increasing Youth Financial Capability: An Evaluation of the MyPath Savings Initiative refers to youth earning their first paycheck as a critical teachable moment to promote savings and connect them with mainstream financial products.