My Clearinghouse CDFI Intern Experience – Jacques Blackman

Jacques Blackman - Intern

An Intro to the CDFI World

I began my internship with Clearinghouse CDFI in 2015 after my Freshman year at the University of Oregon. During my first summer, I was fortunate enough to report to President/CEO Doug Bystry. My first official project began immediately: conducting a month’s worth of research into the company’s portfolio about the factors contributing to early loan payoffs. At the beginning, I had little to no knowledge about lending. However, over the course of my research, I was able to explore multiple types of loans and speak with several staff members about their various roles within the company. For example, listening in on a Loan Committee call helped me understand how a loan gets approved by Clearinghouse CDFI and all the work that goes into reaching this approval.

My presence in the office also allowed me to pick up on information that I could apply to my project. Many times I believed I had completed my research into the paid off loans, but every week I would uncover another potential factor. This became a great learning experience for me, illustrating that there is always something more to be discovered—to be learned. My favorite component of the project was my presentation to the Executive Team. It was a unique experience as an intern to stand in front of four executives to present a research project. I came away from the presentation with confidence in my month of work and a better understanding for the company’s mission and how it’s accomplished.

Round Two: Summer 2016

The knowledge and familiarity I gained during my first summer as an intern was crucial to my work during my second summer at Clearinghouse CDFI. Upon my return this year, I began working with Kristy Ollendorff and Michelle Taylor on the implementation of a company-wide customer relationship management system called nCino. Amongst other benefits, this new system will help advance the current loan origination process by tracking information for underwriters more efficiently. My contribution to this project instilled in me a deeper understanding of the life of a loan and the intricacies of the loan process.

Jacques Blackman - Intern - painting

Throughout this second summer, not only have I learned about Clearinghouse CDFI’s process in great detail, but also how to transfer my knowledge into forms of data, and ultimately to an external company. Helping to build a brand new system to meet the company’s specific needs has been the most challenging part of this project. This “exchange” has become my favorite part of the project—clarifying what Clearinghouse CDFI wants to accomplish and then identifying exactly how technology can expedite the work required. Upon launch, the nCino system will open doors for the origination team with a single point of data entry and the ability to extract data fields required for reporting. At its full implementation, nCino should reduce the time—by days, in fact—required to fund a loan.

Skills to Pay the Bills

As a college student with an economics major, my internship experience has been similar to the projects I undertake in my field of study. Rather than running data from experiments or studies, the data I see here is the loans from Clearinghouse CDFI’s portfolio. I found it interesting to take project data I originally encountered during my first summer and develop the same numbers into something much more meaningful.

My time at Clearinghouse CDFI has shown me a tangible professional application of the work I do as a student. Although there are stark differences between my internship and my work as a student, my internship has provided insight into what my future workplace will be and the skills I will need to be successful.

“My time at Clearinghouse CDFI has shown me a tangible professional application of the work I do as a student.”

Jacques Blackman - Intern

An Attitude of Gratitude

I am grateful for the opportunity to intern at Clearinghouse CDFI. The best part has been working for a small company where I’ve gotten to know everyone in the office in a short amount of time. I think this starts with the positive attitude and hard work that Mai Nguyen Ha and Kathy Bonney invest into office programs. In fact, everyone is always happy to answer my endless questions or to simply enjoy a friendly conversation. As I look back over my first two summers with the company, I truly appreciate all of the “little” details that make Clearinghouse CDFI unique. I look forward to continuing my time with Clearinghouse CDFI in the future, and I hope to continue providing valuable contributions as a member of the team.