Banks – we all use them to deposit and withdraw money, to gain access to credit and loans and to stash our extra hard-earned cash for a rainy day. But what goes into making sure our banking institutions are following the rules and best practices to ensure the stability of our financial markets?

It’s a question finance major Nina Hayes, a rising junior at the College of Charleston, hadn’t really ever thought about until she took a trip last fall to the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Intrigued by the dollars and cents of banking, Hayes, whose only previous jobs had been as a waitress and a summer camp counselor, began thinking about how she could gain real-world experience in the finance world.

As a student trainee examiner for the FDIC’s Atlanta field office, Hayes, who is a student in the Honors College, is spending her summer digging into her curiosity about all things money. And, while she doesn’t know for sure what type of career path she might ultimately choose, this experience has helped her narrow the field.

“I have found myself enjoying the risk-evaluating aspect of this internship in addition to being able to dive into the world of banking,” she says. “As of now, I am leaning toward going into the banking industry. Whether that’s on the buy or sell side, I do not yet know, but I am excited to find out!”

The College Today recently caught up with Hayes to find out more about what it’s like to work for the FDIC and how this experience is shaping her ambitions for the future.

Why was an internship with the FDIC of interest to you?

In the weeks leading up to fall break of 2018, Dr. [Jocelyn] Evans, one of the finance professors in the School of Business, sent an email out about a trip to the FDIC headquarters in Washington, D.C. I had nothing planned for fall break and I was in the process of looking for internships for the following summer, so I decided that it would be a perfect opportunity to see a city I had never gone to before and learn about a business I knew nothing about. Having spent the weekend exploring the headquarters and hearing about the organization, I began to think more often about the possibility of starting my career at the FDIC. At the time, I didn’t know what part of the financial industry I was most interested in. Being able to talk to students and employees alike was extremely beneficial as I was exposed to very different experiences that influenced my decision to apply.

What are the duties of your internship?

As a student trainee examiner, my duties are similar to that of a full-time bank examiner. I work with the risk management department in the Atlanta field office, but most of the time I’m traveling to banks across northern Georgia to perform standardized examinations. Within the bank, I help assist examiners in evaluating the institution’s CAMELS (Capital, Asset Quality, Management, Earnings, Liquidity and Sensitivity to Market Risk) from an operations perspective, focusing on the bank’s capital, earnings, liquidity and sensitivity to market risk. I have a multitude of different tasks that range from reconciling the bank’s financial statements to evaluating financial ratios to speaking to management teams about their practices and policies. I get to spend each day learning something different, which is great because I am able to explore the whole scope of what it takes to examine and rate a bank.

How are you putting what you’ve learned in the classroom to use in your internship?

I think my financial accounting teacher is going to love to hear this answer (shout out to you, Dr. V [accounting professor William VanDenburgh]!) because every day, all day long, I am using the concepts that I learned in the first accounting class I took back in the fall of my sophomore year. Since I was able to get a good understanding of the basics, I could quickly evaluate the more advanced accounting of the bank itself. In tandem with Dr. V’s accounting course, I was assisted by Dr. Evans, who guided me through the recruitment process and spent her own time going over the basics of her Management of Financial Institutions class to help me prepare. Both of these professors, and many of my other business professors, have helped me understand the basics, which has allowed me to focus on learning and digging deeper into these topics now that I am on the job.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned so far through this internship?

The most surprising thing so far was understanding how much effort and diligence goes into keeping a bank not only running – but successful. Before this internship, I never had a second thought about my own personal banking. The bank was simply a place to deposit and withdraw money. Now, I am amazed at the steps necessary for an examination and the FDIC’s role in the regulation of banks, especially during the most recent financial crisis. The experience has opened my eyes about the complexities of a bank and its operations. By being able to examine different banks in varying financial circumstances, I am able to see data that many people lack access to and this has helped me understand the scope and complexity of the 2008 crisis and the many moving parts that contributed to it.

How will this experience shape your future goals?

Being selected for this internship has proven to me that all of the crazy and seemingly unattainable goals that I have made for myself over the years are absolutely possible. Prior to my role at the FDIC, I have had a job at a restaurant and as a summer camp counselor. While it is important to have these types of jobs, they were not roles that I envisioned myself staying in for the long term. I knew that there were students all across the country applying for this internship who were qualified for the position and that it would be a challenge. However, what I knew as well is that I would regret it if I didn’t at least try. After getting this internship and realizing that someone saw enough potential in me to give me this opportunity, I have felt a stronger desire to push myself and set even more impressive goals.