Boneetha Bose has always been good at problem solving.
When the Carleton University computer science student joined TD as a co-op student in 2019, it was easy for Bose to apply her analytical skills to machine learning challenges. But at the start of 2020—just as Bose was getting ready to return for another year to gain career experience as part of the Bank's Early Talent Program—the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
That's when, in the absence of a solution to the many personal and professional challenges unfolding due to the pandemic, Bose began to worry.
"I like challenges which is why I decided on a career in tech, but I didn't know what to do," said Bose, who is now building machine learning models using data and analytics with TD as an Associate under the Early Talent Program.
"I was worried about family. I had personal worries, plus job security concerns because I was reading about lay-offs in every industry. Some of my friends were being laid off during that time. I was thinking if this Program doesn't continue, how will I find a job?"
Bose is one of about 1,000 students and new graduates who, despite these concerns, were able to continue with TD as the Bank quickly pivoted to offer work experience virtually during the early days of the pandemic.
Each year, the Early Talent Program aims to provide about 1,000 co-op students and new grads—some of whom continue on with the Bank in a full-time position—with vital work experience, networking opportunities, and workshops on a range of topics from creating a strong online profile, to leadership and career advice.
Logistical challenges pave the way for new opportunities
"There's a social component to the Program, and they get a feel for what it's like to work at TD," said Erin Miller, Associate Vice President, Early Talent Program at TD. "Obviously things have been more challenging with the pandemic, so we had to get creative."
While it was a challenge for the Bank to get hundreds of students and new grads onboarded and organized with new equipment and the systems needed to work at the Bank virtually in a short period of time, Miller said the end result has been—in many ways—a better experience for participants.
"In order to support students and new grads with several aspects of their career growth, we provided them with unique opportunities, such as virtual well-being and fitness classes and more access to our leaders to learn what it's like to work in different areas of the Bank, including the TD Wealth division or Canadian Personal Bank for example," said Miller. "We are now able to expose them to more areas of the Bank and share more of our culture than we were previously able to. There are fewer scheduling conflicts and no space restrictions," she said.
This summer, the Program evolved further to offer an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) challenge to students in which leaders from the Corporate Citizenship arm of the Bank challenged students to brainstorm ways TD can further embed social governance practices into various business lines.
"We didn't know what these students would come back with," said Miller. "But we found that they came back with some thinking and research that we could implement into our Environmental, Social and Governance practices. The winning team this summer ended up brainstorming a loan related to electric vehicles for our transportation, shipping, and Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) clients."
Miller adds that the Early Talent Program is an important talent recruitment tool for the bank. Some of the students who first join TD as co-op students stay on for a second year as new-graduate Associates in full-time positions. These Associates gain work experience specific to business lines at the Bank that need to be developed in a cohort (be it a role in Compliance, HR or any other department).
Machine learning opportunities that make an impact
For Bose, that's translated into the opportunity to work with the Data Science team in Canadian Personal Banking to help build an Artificial Intelligence-based model that learns from past fraud-related data patterns and flags customers who are at risk so that the Bank could potentially help customers avoid being defrauded by scammers.
"Our team is trying to identify whether our model is performing with only a certain type of customer," Bose said. "We want to make sure it generalizes well and doesn't perform well only for some customers because of data inputs like age, gender, how much money they have, or where they are geographically located, for example."
For Bose, the ability to continue gaining early career experience has left her feeling grateful.
"TD has done a good job of onboarding us, collecting feedback and making sure we feel part of the collective while providing exposure to interesting work and helping us network," says Bose. "I feel that this company is one that students should really consider for their future."
If you're a student or new grad looking to kickstart your career, winter-term co-op positions and full-time Associate roles are now open for application. For more information on the Early Talent Program including all available positions and to apply, visit the TD Campus Recruitment page.