Summer 2017 was the summer I entered my first true stage of adulthood. I took a leap of faith and pursued an internship opportunity with the U.S. Department of Treasury Office of the Comptroller of the Currency at its Southern District Office in Dallas, Texas, over 1,000 miles away from my residence in Detroit,Michigan. It was only a week after I turned 18, and, although it seemed crazy, what is success without sacrifice?
I received this opportunity through the Federal Diversity Internship Initiative offered by The Washington Center. They paid for transportation as well as housing, while still giving me a bi-weekly stipend. I received the information for the internship through an email from Joe Ricks, head of the Division of Business. I was only a freshman, but I beat out hundreds of applicants, many of whom were older than I, for the one internship position at the OCC.
For the people unfamiliar with the OCC, it is an independent bureau of the U.S. Department of Treasury that regulates national banks and federal thrift institutions. Lucky for me, I interned with an amazing boss, Liz Phan, who is an executive in the office. She allowed me to be involved in more pertinent meetings and tasks that even some employees are never exposed to. The great thing about this agency is that the employees come from many different walks of life, and everyone has varying professions and tasks that they are responsible for in the regulation process.
I took it upon myself to give informational interviews and meet with specialists (asset management, licensing, etc.), executives, lawyers, new hires, national bank examiners, etc. I took an array of notes about everything from accounting standards to law regulations, and I keep it with me as a tool for future success. My notes were a very instrumental tool for me when I went out and visited a bank while its annual exam was in progress. I was able to efficiently give good feedback on my observations, conclusions, and suggestions for future operation. This was probably one of the most satisfying days I had in my internship, just knowing that I possess the skills necessary for the job was gratifying.
My favorite thing to do was analyze a public report of a bank’s financial information called the Uniform Bank Performance Report (UBPR). I got so good at drawing conclusions from it that my boss allowed me to brief her on banks, and then we’d compare our analysis to other reports. I also sat in for problem
bank decision meetings throughout the summer and, on my last week, I made some discoveries in the report that I spoke up on in a meeting that included top executives in the office, examiners, and even the FDIC. Everyone in the office gave me so many kudos, and this was probably the best day ever.
All-in-all, I can say that this was the opportunity of a lifetime and I definitely left Dallas with so much knowledge and information that puts me way ahead of the average sophomore business major. For that, I am forever grateful.