The pandemic has caused many college students to miss out on internship experiences in summer 2020. But not at KeyBank, where the company welcomed 275 talented interns and—through virtual and in-bank experiences—helped them safely gain important, real-world experience to boost their future financial careers.

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced colleges and universities to transition to online learning this spring, aspiring young professionals faced an uncertain summer. Like most aspects of their daily lives, their internship plans were upended, causing many students to miss out on this valuable experience.

But not at Key, where company leadership committed to helping 275 talented summer interns gain important, real-world experience to boost their future financial careers.

Welcome, Intern Class of 2020

In early May, as many internship programs were being canceled, Key was happy to notify the intern class of 2020 that their real-world summer education was still happening.

It would just be a little different for many of them—in the form of a virtual internship experience for 160 Enterprise interns. An additional 115 Retail Banking interns would still get in-branch experience, albeit in an evolving branch environment, focused on maintaining everyone’s health and safety.

“To have the opportunity to intern at Key even while every other internship has been canceled has been a blessing, and I value it dearly,” said Juan Peña, a 2020 Retail Banking summer intern. “Not only has my character been challenged and developed, but this internship has also had a tremendous impact on my understanding of the financial world. Because of this internship, I now know that a career in financial services is right for me, and I am excited for the future.”

Enterprise Interns Log on for Virtual Learning

The 160 Key Enterprise interns participated in a virtual, seven-week program aligned with various businesses across Key’s footprint. While delivered virtually, Key was able to maintain elements of its traditional in-person internship format, while incorporating additional enrichment and networking opportunities to learn about Key and engage with others. This included interns working on meaningful projects with teams from Consumer Bank, Commercial Bank, Institutional Bank, Digital and Payments Businesses, as well as in support functions such as Finance, Human Resources, Technology, and Risk Management.

“From the first day, our interns are an important part of our team. We value their input and appreciate the skills they bring to our teams,” said Randy Paine, President of Key Institutional Bank. “That’s why it was so important for us to be able to virtually deliver a hands-on experience that will help this next generation of banking professionals grow. We are honored they brought their diverse skills and talents to make an impact at Key.”

The virtual internships started with orientation and onboarding sessions so interns could learn more about Key’s operations and culture. Interns then learned about various roles within the company via training and learning labs featuring executive leaders. Everyone—interns and KeyBank team members alike—learned how to work together virtually, while participating in valuable networking opportunities.

“My highlights from this summer include learning about and being able to work on the financial models that pertain to my line of business, and being able to network and meet with everyone on the team—from the other interns all the way to senior executives,” said Sarah Bullen, a 2020 Enterprise summer intern. “It was great to see my work presented in regional team meetings, as it reinforced how my work was being valued by my coworkers.”

Retail Banking Interns Head to New Branch Environments

While Enterprise interns learned from home, the 115 Retail Banking interns were out in the world for a 10-week in-branch experience. These students, interested in pursuing careers within Key’s Retail Branch Network, gained a foundational understanding of the operational, compliance and risk components of Retail Banking by working in the teller role.

In addition to working alongside Branch teammates in delivering Key’s Financial Wellness strategy, interns also participated in a speaker series, in which they learned about Key’s multiple Consumer Bank lines of business; participated in virtual volunteer and networking activities; and completed a capstone project addressing a real and present opportunity for the Retail Bank.

Unlike other summers, interns had to pay additional mind to health and safety this year to mitigate risk from COVID-19. That meant participating in daily health screenings and reinforcing best health practices within reconfigured branches with plexiglass wellness barriers, new signage and floor markings. It also involved educating customers about new safety protocols, promoting social distancing and encouraging the use of drive-thrus.

“Not only are Retail Banking interns learning about the financial services industry, they are seeing firsthand the impact we make on our clients, their families and our communities. We see real value in this program as a way to attract and develop diverse talent into the kind of bankers we need,” said Kevin Sloan, KeyBank Branch Network Executive.

Continuing Their Financial Futures

The 2020 Key summer intern class represents a diverse group of 275 young professionals from 46 colleges and universities, covering 42 majors. In the midst of a global pandemic, these committed men and women participated in valuable financial services training and real-world business and customer interactions.

These activities created a rich and meaningful experience for the interns that will support their growth and development in their future careers. Better yet, many may have the opportunity to work at Key following graduation, as internships often open the door to future employment. In fact, about 62% of the Key 2019 Analyst Class consists of former interns. Nearly 75% of this year’s 160 Enterprise interns have been given offers to return to Key in 2021, and to date, we have converted 92% of them to hires. The interns exemplify the type of employee that thrives at Key.

“It’s an honor and reflection of the organization to have so many high-performing interns return after graduation for full-time roles at Key,” said Amy Brady, Key’s Chief Information Officer. “We consider the summer internship as the first step to a lifelong career with Key.”