COVID-19 threw a wrench into many plans for 2020, but when it came time to decide whether Freddie Mac would still host summer internships despite them being virtual, the answer from all program leads was a resounding, "Yes."
COVID-19 forced companies to alter plans and practices at rapid speed this past winter and spring, leading to internships being canceled or postponed and leaving many recent graduates and rising seniors facing the reality that their summer plans might look a little different.
"For about two months, all I was hearing from my friends is that their internship opportunities had been canceled. I thought it was just a matter of time before mine was too," said Rebecca, corporate communications intern.
But for Freddie Mac interns like Rebecca, good news was on the horizon. Program directors across all divisions worked together to create internship experiences that would be collaborative and meaningful despite being completely virtual.
"It's never too early in your career to learn how to make the most of an unexpected situation. That's exactly what we're doing this summer with our Freddie Mac virtual internships," said Amy Gooen, IT business management director. "For our IT internship program, we designed a highly interactive experience that includes daily team check-ins, professional and technical development courses and an intern innovation competition – all completed by virtual collaboration. "
Many interns worried about isolation and lack of camaraderie before starting their virtual internships at Freddie Mac, but they're fears were quickly assuaged.
"I don't feel like I am suffering from a virtual experience. I am still learning amazing things and I am interacting with my co-workers like I would in the office. I've enjoyed getting to know my fellow graduate interns on Zoom during virtual happy hours too," said Zade, graduate risk management intern.
In addition to hosting online events and onboarding socials, program directors have taken several steps to ensure all interns feel connected to their colleagues, their work and Freddie Mac's mission.
"To make sure we maintain personal connection and networking, we paired all of our interns with a buddy from our recent college hire program, technical mentors and individual career and personal brand coaches. We're also providing our interns' managers with training and support in how to keep this summer a connected, meaningful experience," said Amy.
Although each program and each individual internship is different, teams across the company are doing everything they can to ensure the summer interns benefit from the "Freddie experience" and learn tangible skills that will lead them forward in their careers.
"I don't think I've ever worked at a company where every single person I've met has been so nice and genuinely willing to help, and that makes the challenges of working remotely so much easier to handle. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to work with such a talented and mission-driven team, virtual or not," said Sonali, public relations intern.
The virtual environment continues to throw curve balls, forcing teams to pivot and react on the fly. But with new challenges comes new opportunity, and the virtual internship program is one more example of Freddie Mac's flexibility and ingenuity in times of stress.
"I would have understood if Freddie Mac decided to cancel their internship program and not take on additional employees in this unprecedented time, but I am proud to be part of a company that adapted so quickly and showed true resilience during the pandemic," said Rebecca.
Our internship and college hire programs will begin accepting applications again in August. Learn more about opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students at Freddie Mac and get ready to apply!