Interns are grateful the program was created in 'lightning speed'
Like many of us, college juniors Morgan Forrest and Mohamad Miri weren't expecting to spend the balmy days of summer at home on their computers.
But the two are among the members of the first TD Bank virtual internship class, due to the stay-at-home requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"With many of my peers’ internships cancelled across the country due to COVID-19, I am so grateful that TD has chosen to move their intern program to virtual," said Morgan, who will be an intern for the Digital Channels team based in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. "I know that TD will try to make this experience as close to a normal, in-person internship as possible, and I am so excited to start learning!"
That's exactly what Erica Stauffer, TD Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, and team are hoping for all 72 interns in the US participating in the program.
"TD has a great culture, so we had to find a way to keep the culture alive via a screen," she said.
How to completely revamp a program in fast and furious time
By late February, Erica and her team knew that there may need to be major changes as the COVID-19 pandemic became more prevalent in the US, so they began planning an alternative proposal for the intern program with the original starting date of May 27 for 67 college juniors and two weeks later for five sophomores. The team completed a proposal in early March that made the program completely virtual.
"Our team was able to create a totally virtual program in lightning speed," Erica said.
The biggest challenge was making sure the interns felt connected to TD, not an easy task given it will be without a physical presence at both work and social events.
"It is important to us to keep focused on our early talent during these unprecedented times," said Girish Ganesan, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, TD Bank Group, and Head of Talent, TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank. "Honoring our commitments to our interns and analysts is part of our colleague promise and we look forward to empowering our incoming colleagues to grow their skills, gain new perspectives, and create impact at work and in their community."
To fully learn what "TD is all about," the new program will double the number of senior leader speaking events and increase the opportunities for group coaching. The topics covered will include performance management and performance reviews.
One of the most important parts of all internships program are the social and team building events. Erica and her team made sure to factor in that aspect by scheduling Wednesday fitness classes, rotating team luncheons with smaller groups of interns, an interns' newsletter with different interns taking the lead each week, and a virtual volunteering opportunity.
"I am excited to have the opportunity to work for TD Auto Finance whether it is online or in the office," said Mohamad, who lives in Michigan. "Many peers of mine with various internship opportunities have been cancelled for the summer of 2020 due to COVID-19. I could not be more grateful for the opportunity that continues to present itself today. I am looking forward to making a positive impact in meeting the goals and expectations for the Dealer Operations department."
There has been talk of what happens if stay-at-home regulations are relaxed as the summer progresses. Erica said as the interns are based throughout the US, TD will be adaptable regarding housing opportunities near internship locations and other factors.
"We will be flexible and work with each intern to find the best solution," she said.
All this planning in such a short time took a lot of work, but Erica and her team believe it was vital for them to ensure their promise to the interns when they invited them to the program.
"TD is committed to early talent," she said. "For us, our early talent is the customer, and I didn't want anybody to cancel. At TD, we are true to our customers and true to our new hires."
Erica and her team would like to ask TD Bank colleagues to consider reaching out and introducing themselves to the interns this summer via virtual means.
"These are 72 young people eager to learn and help," she said. "Be curious about them, they are curious about us. We want them to truly know TD Bank and everything great about it."