2019 Summer Interns Part Two - Fannie Mae
Each summer, interns from across the country arrive at Fannie Mae to obtain real-world experience in the business environment. What they bring to the table and the company is truly valued and we are honored to be a starting point for these aspiring professionals, whether they land careers in the mortgage finance industry or in any other sector.
Read more in Part 2 of testimonials and experiences of a few the interns who contributed so much to Fannie Mae during the summer of 2019. Click here for the related post in part one.
My name is Piper Baum. At the end of my fall semester in 2018, I had begun thinking about everything that I was intellectually curious about. Being an 18-year-old and starting my junior year of college right after graduating high school, I was not exactly sure what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I loved learning, being in fast-paced environments that offered me challenging work, and the opportunity to learn on the job. Because of my experience and age, I knew I would have to work extremely hard for any potential employer to take a chance on me. Luckily, in the early weeks of March 2019, Fannie Mae took a chance on me and offered me a position as an Employment Brand Intern within their Human Resources division. This was the break I was waiting for and I wanted to take this opportunity and make it my own.
When I walked through the doors of Fannie Mae's office in Washington, D.C. on June 3rd, I realized this was going to be an experience I would not forget. From the warm welcome, to the sheer exuberance everyone shared, I immediately felt comfortable. My manager, Mike Russo, offered me a mentorship experience that made my internship more meaningful. He assigned me tasks that were going to directly impact Fannie Mae. In fact, one of my daily tasks was to manage our Fannie Mae Career social media channels and analyze our performance using media management software. Upon arriving at Fannie Mae, Mike had told me I was going to become the "de facto expert" on this site that was so foreign to me. Being an economics major, I am very analytical by nature, so I appreciated the fact that I was pushed beyond my creative limits and was able to take the photos we posted and create the captions that would be posted with those photos. Not only could I express my creative side, but I was also able to flex my analytical muscle and provide him with reports on how our social media pages were performing in terms of reach, shares, and engagement. I was very appreciative for the opportunity to also self-teach myself how to use this management tool and teach my manager along the way. This is such an invaluable skill and I am so happy Mike provided me the opportunity to do this.
On top of this, I was also given the opportunity to integrate with Fannie Mae's Talent Acquisition team. I can honestly say that these are some of the most kind and hard-working people I have met yet. Being in a setting among these professionals taught me so many different things from people of all walks of life. There is so much more to a person than just surface level and I think a lot of people forget how much they can learn from someone else. This idea is something I challenge on a daily basis and I try to pick the brains of all of the people I meet, regardless if they are on a career path I would like to follow.
Not only was my manager supportive of me meeting and networking within our department, but he encouraged me to reach out to divisions that I was interested to learn about. This opened up so many doors for me and I have been able to grow my network within and outside of Fannie Mae. As I am interested in exploring different careers, I really wanted to understand the talent aspect of a company before I understood how the business was run on the technical side. Elcio Barcelos, our Chief Human Resources Officer, said something I will not forget: "people make up the business, so you must understand the people behind the business before you can improve strategy and efficiency." This only reinforced my idea of coming into HR before getting to know the business aspect.
From our SERVE volunteer event to all the various networking and social activities the recruitment team put on for us, I will be leaving Fannie Mae with a vast amount of knowledge that I did not have before coming here. Not only did I learn new skills, but professional development has played a key role in my internship as well. I have grown so much as a person and owe it to Fannie Mae believing in me. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and cannot thank Fannie Mae enough for taking a chance on me.
My name is Itzel Tapia. As I take time to reflect on the summer – the people I've gotten to know, and the lessons learned – I feel accomplished.
It has been interesting to come in as an intern while Fannie Mae is undergoing so much change. There's an excitement to innovate and the executive team is happy to hear from the employees' individual perspectives. Throughout my internship I have connected with members of the Single-Family Customer Engagement Technology (SFCET) Digital Products & Channels division, who have openly shared their experience and given valuable feedback. Aside from learning about the products and services, I have benefited from my colleagues. I am not a shy person; I have spent time poking around, asking meaningful questions, interviewing employees on different teams, and speaking up when I have a different opinion.
I think that as an intern, you can be either reactive or proactive. I have found that it is more rewarding to proactively seek out new learning opportunities, engage with knowledgeable employees, and share your unique skills. In my role as a developer I have the opportunity to contribute ideas to the front-end design of Fannie Mae's Developer Portal. I have learned about UX design and implementation but have also offered up knowledge on cloud computing and machine learning. The best thing you can do as an intern is identify key areas of growth where you can contribute your unique skills.
Two key takeaways from my time at Fannie Mae:
1. Embrace diversity
Navigating the field of technology is not easy. People will question whether you have what it takes, and it's easy to feel like you need to prove yourself. Don't fall victim to this. Many will take one look at you and think they have you all figured out. Don't get discouraged. You will feel that if you change how you look, or act, you will better fit in. Embrace who you are. Rather than gravitating towards people who look like you, or think like you, seek out new ideas. I think it's in our human nature to want to be with like-minded people, but there is great potential for growth when you fight this impulse.
2. Challenge the Status Quo
In today's world, there is no room for stagnant processes. To stay competitive means to be agile, embrace change, and continually seek process improvement. As an intern you bring a fresh set of eyes, and even though it can be intimidating, speaking up when you have a different idea or opinion is important. I learned two valuable lessons from a TED Talk, "The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers." First, being an 'original' means that you will have many bad ideas before you have a good, original idea. Second, the more you practice speaking up, the easier this skill will become.
I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to learn about Fannie Mae's vision and values and to have met some amazing people. As the summer comes to an end, I hope to have made a positive impact on my team and take these important lessons with me as I continue with my career.