Navigating Passions and Pathways
Faith Blue originally wanted to be a veterinarian, but biology didn’t interest her like her elective web design course. The logic behind programming made sense to her, and she enjoyed working with Excel statements, data structures, and algorithms. In high school, Faith sold snacks for 50 cents to buy her first laptop, while teaching herself programming languages like HTML and Python. Afterwards, she won first place in a hackathon and thought, “This can be a career.” Now a senior majoring in computer science at University of California, Merced, Faith Blue shares her experience as a summer intern at the SF Fed.
How did you hear about the internship?
The SF Fed did a ton of promotion at one of my university’s recruiting events. Jeanette Lewis, Early Career & Diversity Program Manager, even privately messaged me on Handshake, a digital recruiting platform for college students and alumni. I looked up available engineer roles and thought to myself, “Okay. My skills may be able to apply to this role. Let me check out what the fit is.”
As far as internships go, I previously interned with Cisco, and I was trying to intern there again. But I was open to opportunities. Because of my background and coming from humble beginnings, I’m always on the lookout for opportunities.
When I got the call offering me the internship, I was not expecting it. I was in my room getting ready to go to school. At first, I thought the call might be a scam, but it was Jeanette, who offered me an internship for the summer of 2022. I was in disbelief, but I was also ecstatic. Then my thinking shifted. I was like, “My internship starts now. What do I need to do to prepare?”
What were your expectations for the Fed coming in?
Before the recruiting event, I never knew about the Federal Reserve. I didn’t understand the importance that the Federal Reserve System had on the economy. And the fact that I was interning at the Fed didn’t really register until I got into the building and started talking to everyone.
Then I was struck by it—I was interning for the bank of banks. Whatever research I did wasn’t enough, I’ll tell you that. However, once I got here, I started using the intranet to learn about the Bank’s functions. I learned that the Fed has two main goals: price stability and maximum employment. And now it’s like, “Why didn’t I hear about the Fed before?”
Tell us a bit more about your internship and what you’ve been doing.
I am under the National Solution Services Group, which is a department within ITS (Information + Technology Services). At first, my managers wanted me to familiarize myself with the technologies they use. So, I worked with various scripting languages. Then I tried to understand how our organization creates pathways for our applications to communicate with each other. Learning those concepts took a long time and was challenging, but it taught me that I can be thrown into something unknown.
Outside of my day-to-day tasks, I want to make the most of this opportunity. I’ve been spending my time networking and getting to know the people I work with. It’s been amazing getting to talk with President Mary C. Daly and the First Vice President Sarah Devany.
I’ve also developed my relationship with my Bank buddy and my mentors, which is part of the Bank’s mentor program. From the first week, I’ve kept the advice they’ve given me. They told me to arrange coffee chats and get to know people. That’s what I did. Now, I am more confident when I’m talking to people. I don’t know if I would have progressed this much without those relationships. Over the course of this internship, I have grown into a different person.
If you had free rein to do whatever you want with computer science, what would be your ideal future?
That’s the interesting thing about my future right now. As I’m interning here, I’m realizing what I set out to do. Cybersecurity engineer doesn’t require a lot of programming within your day-to-day. So, now I’m trying to find a career path that requires me to create solutions within IT where I can also use my programming skills every day. I don’t mind having meetings and doing documentation, but I also want that exciting part of my day where I’m sitting down trying to figure out the codes.
As far as jobs that will give me a balance, I’m interested in becoming a cybersecurity architect, integration engineer, or an architect. A lot of companies are transitioning towards cloud technology. I’m not too sure about the future right now, but I have this set of skills and I’m trying to figure out what I can apply them to and what roles I can get.
When you leave this internship, what are you taking with you?
There’s so much. I want to keep the connections I’ve made as well as the friendly attitude of my Bank colleagues. I also want to take this optimistic mindset I’ve developed while interning here. For example, reaching out to somebody and meeting with them. It doesn’t necessarily have to be networking for a job. I can keep networking to make friends. I also want to maintain my adventure book attitude. Usually, I’d be too scared to adventure out. I’d be a homebody staying in the house. But now I’m like, “Oh, you need to get up. There’s daylight outside. Get up and go somewhere.”
What advice do you have for future interns?
To people who are looking to intern with the Fed, go ahead and apply. If you feel like your resume isn’t good enough, they are willing to give opportunities to people. I’ve talked to people in different pathways who were once interns and now, several years into their career, they’re managers. The Bank wants to take people in and give them a chance to grow their strengths and knowledge.
And for the interns already here: Enjoy your time here and be open to learning. You can learn a lot from others, including those you talk to at the SF Fed café. Remain open to meeting new people and complete your project. That’s it.