I graduated from Mathews High School with a small class of about 80 students, a school where “everybody knows everybody,” and was ready to head south to East Carolina University in Greenville, NC as fast as I could. I couldn’t wait to be in a new town, at a new school, surrounded by new people. After a few years, as much as I loved my Pirates, the colors purple and gold, Supdogs, the college town atmosphere, and all of my new friends, I found myself missing the familiar faces and sense of peace found in the small community of Mathews.
Entering ECU, I knew I loved math and working with numbers (based on my love for shopping and money!), so my decision to major in finance was pretty easy. I had no idea which direction within the industry that would take me, though. A mentor within Chesapeake Bank reached out to inform me of a few internships offered within the bank. I had already banked here for years and knew quite a few of the employees, but for some strange reason had never thought about working in a banking atmosphere. I instantly applied, went through a couple of interviews, and became the Commercial / Consumer Loan Operations Intern. All of a sudden, coming home that summer to Mathews and working at a community bank with the friendliest employees was everything I never knew I needed.
One thing that Chesapeake Bank excels at is making every new employee feel welcomed — especially interns. Beginning an internship at any formal institution can be very intimidating. I was much younger and had no prior experience in a professional setting. The women in the Commercial Lending Operations department took me under their wing and immediately put me to work. After my first week, I already felt like I had known them for years. Chesapeake Bank’s CEO Jeff Szyperski even takes all of the interns out to lunch at the beginning of the summer to welcome them to the team.
I went on to intern with Mortgage Loan Operations and became the first Banking Intern for the following two summers. Finally, it was my senior year at ECU, and I had a major decision to make… “where do I want to live and start my career?” As much as I love the state of North Carolina, and had always dreamed of moving to a town like Wilmington, I knew I would never find another institution with a culture like Chesapeake Bank. I was informed of the internal Management Trainee Program where I would earn a salary while having the opportunity to spend time with each department within the bank and gain a broad knowledge about the traditional banking industry as well as our specialty lines of business; Chesapeake Payments Systems, Cash Flow, and Chesapeake Wealth Management. My decision was easy.
I accepted the position and began my year of training and learning from almost every employee within the bank. Instantly I knew this was the best decision I could ever make. It was especially gratifying to be selected to attend the Management Development Program offered by the Virginia Banker’s Association. This experience provided an additional perspective into other banks, and network with other bankers from all over Virginia.
Completing the Management Trainee Program even after interning those couple of years was extremely beneficial for me. It was also hard because just as I started getting to know a coworker, I have transferred again and having to leave new friends. It was an “unforeseen cost” (as someone with a degree in finance would say) that any intern or management trainee will have to experience. This program and the internships the bank offers are vital for the growth of the bank – they are helping build and grow leaders and teachers of our employees, therefore strengthening the institution as a whole.
After a lot of thought, I can proudly announce that I have accepted a job within our Cash Flow department as the Accounting Specialist. This department offers accounts receivable financing and asset-based lending for businesses all over the country. I am so honored that Chesapeake chose me to represent the bank as their Management Trainee for the last year, and now as the Accounting Specialist for Cash Flow.
I have gained tons of knowledge I couldn’t have obtained elsewhere. I am also able to learn from many brilliant and experienced individuals. If you want to work in the financial industry for a company who puts their employees first, you should consider this bank!
— Whitney Eriksen