As banks and startups on both coasts compete for new graduates, Fishers, Ind.-based First Internet Bank is using an internship program to keep talent in the Midwest.
The program, which lasts a few months, sources talent from local universities. Participants are expected to take a hands-on approach and effect change at the institution.
“When I launched [First Internet Bank] in 1999, there were a lot of questions around how can you develop any kind of tech operation in the state of Indiana,” said David Becker, CEO and founder of First Internet Bank, during an interview at Bank Innovation Build in November. With multiple large colleges in the state, however, Becker said the bank has been able to hire talent just as promising as its Silicon Valley competitors. “The real key to technology is universities and the talent they are producing.”
Finding and retaining young talent is becoming an increasingly high priority among legacy financial companies as well as startups.
Becker pointed to local Indiana universities like Notre Dame, Purdue, DePauw, Indiana University Bloomington and IUPUI as some of the major producers of talent in the state.
He said First Internet Bank interns must pitch one change they would make at the bank to senior leadership. As an example, he said one intern helped the bank develop its current data warehouse after pointing out that it took a week to pull data from siloed systems when it could take seconds. Interns also helped the bank develop its LYC processes and helped the bank automate the scanning of financial statements and tax documents in an effort speed up the lending process.
First Internet Bank, much like its younger neobank counterparts, has no branches. The bank went public in 2013 and has $4.1 billion in assets. First Internet Bank has a footprint in all 50 states, and it offers a variety of savings, checking and lending products for both retail and business customers.
The internship program, according to Becker, helps keep the bank up-to-date with consumer expectations. “It’s a way of infusing our organization with that constant thought of reinvention and not letting complacency get ahead of you,” he said.