By Noelle Ullery, Intern
Noelle Ullery is serving her third summer internship at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. A former member of the St. Louis Fed's student board of directors, she is majoring in economics and English at Xavier University in Cincinnati.
The student board of directors was a valuable opportunity I never expected to have.
This year is the program’s 10th anniversary, with 166 members having served on the board during that time. As a student from Nerinx Hall in Webster Groves, Mo., I participated in the program from 2018 through 2019 and am grateful to have been a part of it. It taught me so much about the Federal Reserve, career readiness and professionalism.
Going into this program, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t know much about economics because I had never taken a class in it. Fortunately, the student board included assignments through the St. Louis Fed’s Econ Lowdown portal.
These modules taught me about the Fed’s structure, history and mission, in addition to economic concepts. During our monthly meetings, we would discuss what we learned and participated in activities to help us apply our knowledge.
Another component of the program involved presenting the learned information to our respective high schools. It gave us a chance to apply what we knew and teach it to our fellow classmates. Student board members were grouped in teams to give feedback and rehearse presentations to one another. This activity challenged us to synthesize information and communicate effectively.
The student board also invited guest speakers from various divisions in the St. Louis Fed. They would talk about their career journey and their work at the Bank, and they would answer any questions we had. This was an aspect I appreciated when I was a senior unsure of what to major in. It gave me the reassurance that I did not need to have everything planned out for my future career. I learned the importance of preparing for the future, but also that sometimes life takes you in directions you’ll never anticipate.
My experience on the board led me to major in economics at Xavier University in Cincinnati. I enjoyed the topic but also was interested in pursuing a degree in a field that lacks diversity; many women, especially of minority backgrounds, are not exposed to economic education until college—if even then. I wanted to add to my college’s economics courses and bring my own experiences and insights as an Asian woman in a predominantly white, male field.
I think that is why the program prioritized diversity and inclusion within the board members. I served on the board with 17 other high school seniors from across the greater St. Louis area and was exposed to individuals that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. The student board motivates former students to work in industries that would benefit from more diversity. In fact, 66% of former student board members who are women and minorities work in banking, finance or a related industry.
This program was life-changing for me, and I would recommend it to any incoming high school seniors. Even if they don’t want to major in economics, it provides a great opportunity to strengthen professional skills applicable to any industry. It also offers a chance to build new relationships and challenge yourself to become a better professional.
This is especially the case with the program’s option to apply for an internship with one of the St. Louis Fed’s various divisions. I interned with the Economic Education department as a high school intern in 2019. There have been 51 former student board members hired as high school interns at the St. Louis Fed. Of those 51 students, 17 of them have become college interns at one point in time. I am now a college intern for the External Engagement and Corporate Communications Division, my third summer interning at the Bank.
Without the student board, I would not have gained the skills and knowledge I have today.