A Win-Win: Virtual Internships Help Small Businesses

Virtual Internships

Needham Bank President and CEO Joe Campanelli ’79 needed to help local businesses receive their Paycheck Protection Program loans. Natalie Oakes ’21 needed an internship. The Babson connection brought them together.

“As a community bank, it was our responsibility to help as many small businesses as we could receive PPP loans from the Small Business Association as quickly as possible,” said Campanelli. The program, offered in response to the pandemic, aimed to put $350 billion in loans to businesses across the United States, and banks needed to move quickly to ensure businesses in the communities receive funds.

“We knew that we would receive more loan requests than we could handle with current resources. Instead of turning people away, we reached out to Babson to get interns in place to help with various parts of the process,” Campanelli said.

Babson’s Centers for Career Development (CCD) quickly reached out and notified students about this opportunity. One of the first to apply was Oakes, back in the U.S. after having to leave her year-long study abroad program at London School of Economics early because of COVID-19. “I was on the telephone with a CCD adviser when I received the email. I jumped on it. The next day the interview was scheduled,” she said.

“Over a weekend, Babson was able to send us well-qualified applicants who we interviewed, hired and began to train that Monday,” said Linda Farley, Needham Bank’s Senior Vice President, Human Resources. “We ultimately hired 16 interns and were able to process loan requests around the clock since a handful were located in different time zones.”

One was Oakes, working remotely from home in California. She attended, along with the other Babson interns, a welcome meeting with Campanelli, who thanked them for their interest in the bank. Then she got to work, learning about bank and government loan processes. “My accounting background was helpful with some of the niche processes concerning the loans,” she said.

Looking back she notes that “it was impressive to see the amount of loans processed in the five week period.” And she’s continuing her internship with Needham through the summer, working in the commercial and industrial lending areas. “A virtual internship works,” she says. “Needham Bank was one giant team.”

“This partnership is a win-win for all,” said Campanelli. “Needham Bank processed more loans to help small businesses and Babson students had a unique learning opportunity during a time when colleges are moving learning online. As a Babson alum, I’ve enjoyed seeing this partnership come to fruition.”

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