“Different” has been a recurring theme for 2020 so far, and Farm Credit East internships are no exception. So when we interns got the word that our experience would be virtual this summer, I’ll be honest, my hesitations almost got the best of me.
Luckily, I have former Farm Credit East branch manager Steve Weir to call on, who in his retirement has been teaching farm finance at SUNY Cobleskill. Steve has always spoken highly of Farm Credit East and his demeanor carried through when he encouraged a summer with Farm Credit, albeit virtual, would be worth it.
I think I can speak for all the interns when I say that we are fortunate for choosing Farm Credit East. Credit intern Ally Schneider pointed out that “as many internships were canceled this summer, Farm Credit East quickly made arrangements for us to begin virtually, which showed us just how dedicated they are to their clients, their employees and the next generation.”
Despite COVID-19 challenges, consulting intern Damian Hill said, “the Farm Credit East family welcomed me with open arms and has made my experience very noteworthy. Every day consists of a dynamic learning experience amidst an adaptive and forward-thinking agricultural environment.”
A virtual experience
A large part of our onboarding and professional development has been facilitated by the human resources team, who has come up with new alternative methods, like “The Intern Games,” a virtual book club and weekly check-ins to keep us engaged and connected.
Another challenge we’ve overcome is the ability to go on farm visits, which from what I’ve heard, is a highlight of the traditional summer internship experience. Instead this year, using online meeting platforms, we have been able to tour a variety of operations from dairy farms in New York to vegetable farms in Massachusetts and New Jersey, all from the comfort of our desk. While a computer screen does leave something to be desired, it is safe to say that we have gotten more variety in farm tours than past interns.
Each of us has also been assigned a skills coach and team to work with for the summer. Gabby Krause, a credit intern, pointed out that the one-on-one connection she has with her manager helped her understand the day-to-day and big picture aspects of Farm Credit.
Working with the Knowledge Exchange team, I couldn’t agree more. Not only have I been welcomed as if I was an old friend who’s here to stay, but the work I’ve been assigned is meaningful, and will provide real value to customers and employees.
From the outside looking in, Farm Credit East may just seem like another bank. But what I’ve realized is there is a mutual understanding between all employees — that for Farm Credit to prosper, agriculture must prosper. If you don’t believe me, I’d encourage you to go to the COVID-19 resources hub or visit the Knowledge Exchange page on the website. That alone should prove to you that the Farm Credit East team is committed to adding value to Northeast agriculture — and for that, we are lucky to have them as mentors.
So, was Steve right? Well, don’t tell him I said so, but yes! Going into this summer I thought that “different” would be a bad thing. But, if anything, I think being virtual has brought us closer together and given us an unforgettable summer experience.