Boston Fed interns adapt as getting real-world work experience now starts at home
Students get into a new flow as pandemic switches learning to different environments
Students nationally who are pursuing internships have found themselves in uncertain situations, as high school, undergrad, and graduate internships were altered or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s multiple internship programs have evolved and adapted so the bank’s 46 summer interns can get most out of the remote workplace environment.
“The interns are working from home, too!” said Dawn Hicks, manager of the Boston Fed’s Today’s Interns, Tomorrow’s Professional program, or TIP, which is a paid work and learning internship program for eligible Boston high school students.
“It was pretty shaky in the beginning," Hicks said. "It took a couple of weeks to figure out, ‘How are we going to do this?’”
Nailah Khoory, a Financial Support Office intern, said she’s learned to make the most out of meeting with coworkers because her program time is limited and she wants to get to know fellow Bank employees and their roles.
“The remote internship has taught me to be more efficient,” said Khoory, an economics major entering her junior year at Bowdoin College. “I am bringing more to the table during meetings because it is one of few times I get to talk to people face-to-face over video chat.”
Normally, interns find themselves commuting to Boston’s financial district to work in Federal Reserve Plaza’s corporate atmosphere. Now, the high school and college students are getting as much of the Bank experience at home as possible.
Jerrika Dewolfe-Richards, a second-year TIP intern who works with the Real Estate Services Group, receives tools and electrical parts to practice working with three-way switches, light switches, and receptacles or electrical outlets.
“It’s great the Fed allows me to work remote, thanks to my supervisors,” said Dewolfe-Richards, who recently graduated from Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in the Roxbury neighborhood.
Khoory’s project is a current events-inspired twist on an annual presentation Financial Support Office interns create on the main economic indicators. This year, Khoory is focusing on the Fed’s role in the three major American economic crises: the Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the current economic turmoil as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Besides learning about the U.S. central bank and its responsibilities, the interns say they are learning how to grow professionally.
“The program helped me a lot by teaching me to be comfortable in a professional setting,” Dewolfe-Richards said. “They didn’t put any judgement on me when I started. They treated me like family.”
Hicks said she loves interacting with interns and watching them grow on the job.
“I spend close to three years with them. Seeing the growth and maturity and professional development tells me, okay, we’re doing something right,” Hicks said. “Give them the access and the opportunity, and these kids will thrive.”