Meet our employees
Michael Anderson, Program Manager, Operations Risk Program, Denver
"You can pretty much go exactly where you want to go in this organization. I like to be involved in projects and assignments, and FCA has provided me with the opportunity to be fully engaged in something beyond just my own job."
"My years at FCA have been very rewarding. I have no complaints—FCA has done a tremendous job in helping me achieve my career goals.
"I came to FCA in 1988 from a very small town in North Carolina where I was a branch manager of a Farm Credit System association. Although the townspeople were very welcoming, the town itself was so small and remote that the nearest night life was 50 miles away."
"From the time I was a young boy, I had always dreamed of living in a city with major sports teams, so when I interviewed with an FCA employee who invited me to join the new Denver field office, I jumped at the chance. I had never been west of West Virginia, and here I was packing everything I owned—my TV, basketball, golf clubs, and clothes—into my 1981 Mazda RX-7 and headed to the Mile High City. What a great opportunity!"
"And that was just the beginning. I have since had so many opportunities at FCA. I became a commissioned examiner in 1992 and two years later entered a program to become a certified information technology [IT] specialist."
"IT examiners evaluate IT controls and risks at banks, associations, and service providers. In 1997 I took the international CISA [certified information systems auditor] test and passed. FCA then certified me to be an IT specialist. I spent several years examining larger System institutions in various roles, such as asset lead examiner, IT lead examiner, and examiner-in-charge."
"Then a two-year rotational assignment came up in FCA’s Office of Regulatory Policy in McLean, Virginia. I saw it as an opportunity to broaden my experience and get involved in policy development. For a year I continued to work in the Denver office while traveling to McLean every month. Another opportunity opened up in the Office of Examination to manage the Operations Risk Program. I applied for and got the job."
"As the new Program Manager, I oversee examinations of System institutions for their operational risk (IT, Internal Controls, and Compliance). These activities reflect FCA’s new emphasis on a risk-based approach—dedicating its resources to the greatest areas of risk and managing them appropriately with a national perspective. My team members are from all the field offices, not just Denver."
"The Office of Examination realigned its career development program to include the three functional areas of credit, finance, and operations. This was done to ensure we have the depth of knowledge and skills within our examination staff to evaluate an increasingly complex Farm Credit System. Today, commissioned examiners have the opportunity to focus on and receive further training in one or more of these functional areas to stake out a specialized career path.
“That approach, combined with the fact that large numbers of examiners are expected to retire from FCA in the next few years, is leading to more opportunities than ever before. It is very positive for the Office of Examination to set this direction.
Benefits of working at FCA
“You can pretty much go exactly where you want to go in this organization. I like to be involved in projects and assignments, and FCA has provided me with the opportunity to be fully engaged in something beyond just my own job. I’ve received a tremendous amount of training here, and there are more opportunities than ever for new examiners.”
Deanna Block, Examiner, Sacramento
"One of the biggest benefits of working at FCA is that it's a small agency. That allows you to not only make a lot of friends but to see what everyone is working on. You get an idea of where you want to take your career and what projects or assignments you want to get involved with."
"I went to University of California-Davis, which is a big ag school, and a lot of my classes, even my economics classes, had an ag focus. My parents have a hobby olive farm, and I grew up in a rural area of Northern California. At the Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce, where I worked before FCA, we had a microloan program for small businesses. I got a lot of experience in how to apply for a loan and helping members get their foot in the door with a microloan program.
"I found out about FCA through the University of California, Davis, career fair. The recruiter sparked my interest in the job because I had studied economics and international relations. I was interested in gaining more of a foundation in finance and the banking world. I started with the agency in June 2009.
"I was first assigned to the Staff Development Division where all of our new examiners start out. It's a really robust training program. They put you through training in credit, finance, compliance, appraisal—really the foundation of everything you need to learn. After you take classes taught by internal staff members, you usually go on-site to different associations for a few weeks and implement what you learned in the training. While you're on the Staff Development Division, which is the first two years with the agency, they send you out in the field with a trainer so you can ask questions. It's still very much a learning environment even though you're actually doing work that gets used by the examiner-in-charge.
"After two years in the Staff Development Division, I joined the Association Examination Division, where I have been since 2011. I've also had a lot of opportunities to work with associations in our Market Risk Division. So being in one division doesn't necessarily prohibit you from working on some of the larger, more complex institutions in our Market Risk Division. I'm now in the Credit Specialist Program and I hope this opens doors to working with even more complex institutions and different people from all over the agency.
"There is no typical workday at FCA. We usually have two- to four-week assignments to a specific institution. Once you get that assignment, you usually start work by traveling to the institution. A typical on-site experience is showing up at the institution with a team of 5 to 10 examiners. You're usually in a board room or other area of the bank working as a team. You meet with the management team and get acquainted with their staff. By working as a team, you can bounce ideas and observations off each other. You usually spend that week gathering and recording information. You take advantage of being able to talk to management while you are on-site.
"After returning to the office, you spend about a week wrapping up assignments you were assigned for that institution you just visited by taking all your notes and coming up with concrete conclusions. We have pretty specific procedures and documentation processes in our program, which help when we write our examination reports.
"Then you'll start to prepare for the next assignment. You are usually working on two to three assignments at once. At the same time, you may be constantly monitoring one institution where you're the examiner-in-charge. It keeps the job interesting.
Lots of opportunities to hone skills
"I definitely have learned a lot about credit and financial analysis after coming on board. I learned credit analysis from the ground up. You touch on some financial analysis in college, but FCA puts you through a detailed training program on financial analysis specific to Farm Credit institutions. I also have learned a lot about the ag economy in general and some of the unique credit risks associated with agriculture.
"I have improved my public speaking and writing skills at FCA. This job allows you to get in front of high-level people—boards and management teams, so you really gain a lot of good experience, especially speaking in somewhat intimidating environments.
"It's been challenging to come on board as an entry-level employee without much banking experience in the real world. You sometimes have to deliver somewhat difficult recommendations or corrective actions to bank management teams. Not only is it challenging to go in as a young examiner with limited experience, but even with experience and tenure at the agency it's always somewhat challenging to deliver some of the news or conclusions to bank management teams.
"One of the other challenging things about this job is you have to be a jack-of-all-trades. One week you may be looking at one area, the next week you may dive into something completely different. You have to know FCA's stance on different issues and stay on top of everything that's going on that could impact the association or bank you're visiting.
Benefits of working at FCA
"One of the biggest benefits of working at FCA is that it's a small agency. That allows you to not only make a lot of friends but to see what everyone is working on. You get an idea of where you want to take your career and what projects or assignments you want to get involved with.
"I also think that FCA really invests a lot in the development of all their employees. I've been encouraged to attend trainings. I specifically pick out trainings that interest me and where I want to take my career. FCA has been supportive of sending me, along with many other employees, to banking school.
"I feel FCA really values its employees. They put so much into the initial training program to make sure you're staying interested in the job and you're following your passion. I think that makes for a really positive work environment. One of the things I've found to be a huge benefit is just how much they've invested in me and how much they value me.
"I think FCA provides a good work-life balance even though there's a lot of travel involved. You definitely have to like travel to take the role of examiner, but I think the agency does a lot to compensate for your being on the road.
"Everyone is really supportive of each other at FCA. It's a good team environment."
Robin Boston, Supervisory Examiner, Denver
"When you begin working at FCA, you start with a hiring class, and you go through the training together as an entire group. It's a collaborative atmosphere and a great learning experience."
"I first learned about FCA at an agricultural career fair at Oklahoma State University, where I earned my undergraduate degree in business management and MBA. I was looking for a challenging new job that would allow me to travel. With a lot of employers, traveling was not an option until after a couple of years. I was really excited about the opportunities with FCA so I interviewed the next day. I began working here in June 2008.
"My dad is a part-time farmer in Adair, Oklahoma, with a cow-calf operation and a garden. When I was growing up, I helped with ranch chores. Before FCA, I had no banking background, but I had a number of classes related to financial analysis in college and graduate school.
"The training program for FCA is very thorough. It lasts three to four years and includes formal classroom training, as well as on-the-job training. When you begin working at FCA, you start with a hiring class, and you go through the training together as an entire group. It's a collaborative atmosphere and a great learning experience.
"I started in the Staff Development Division and currently work in the Association Examination Division. I am a supervisory examiner with a portfolio of institutions and examiners.
"Project management is essential in this role. As a supervisory examiner, I oversee the examiner-in-charge of an institution and provide input throughout the examination process. I review information from the institution, establish on-going communication with management and the board, and oversee the report writing process. These activities sometimes occur concurrently among multiple associations in my portfolio. Time management is a very important aspect of the job. I need to manage my time and help manage the time of my examiners, as well. There are different expectations for different projects, so a lot of coordination and organization is needed. At the end of the day, it’s important that we get a well-developed report out in a reasonable amount of time.
Working on bank examinations
"For on-site work, we typically go out on Monday and come back on Friday. We review loans, interview staff on operational areas, and speak with the institution's management. We ask questions and provide feedback. Throughout the week, we provide management with updates on how the process is going. On Friday, we have a close-out meeting so they understand where we are in the examination process.
"More than anything else, I've improved my verbal and written skills since starting at FCA. We do a lot of writing. Every day, we do some sort of analysis to create a final report of examination for boards and management teams.
"In addition, there are a number of discussions and meetings with institutions' management teams. We also hold exit meetings and formal board presentations to share final examination results. We need to communicate in a persuasive and compelling manner to ensure that the institution understands the Agency's position
Benefits of working at FCA
"Getting to travel and having a good work-life balance are benefits of working at FCA. I think it's unusual to find a job that offers both of these at the same time. My schedule is set well in advance and I travel approximately 25 percent of the time, so once a month I go on-site. I'm only gone during the weekdays, and I'm always back for the weekends to be with my family. When we go on-site as an exam team, we go out socially as a group in the evenings. It's a chance to get to know each other better. It's a nice environment to work in.
"I headed up a scheduling task force a few years ago. The experience was very valuable, and we provided some meaningful recommendations to management. Since FCA is a smaller agency, management is very accessible. In my office, there are only about 45 people, so you can easily speak to management staff if you have any questions or would like to provide input. They have an open-door policy.
"I'm definitely excited about my future at FCA and the different options available. You can develop an emphasis in credit, capital markets, operations, IT and other paths. You have a lot of opportunities to move forward in your career."
Alex Buckley, Examiner, Dallas
"In our communication training, we’re given practice in asking tough questions, dealing with different opinions with staff at associations — like about rating the riskiness of a loan — and also at the agency. I’ve really improved at dealing with uncomfortable news."
“I learned about FCA through a friend from college who works in the Denver office. I’d actually accepted an offer elsewhere — at a big financial institution — but I found the structured commissioning program and the travel at FCA attractive. I also liked the idea of a smaller workplace.”
“I was a finance major in college. I’d studied stocks and investments. I had more of a corporate finance background so I needed to learn more about credit analysis and banking fundamentals. Before taking the FCA commissioning exam, we all take the same set of classes at the same time for three years.
“I don’t have a background in ag. I’m as much of a city boy as you can imagine, but the farm aspect is just another market to analyze for me.
“We’re all in the Staff Development Division for two years, and then we move to the Association Examination Division. I have done some side projects for the Bank Examination Division. I am interested specifically in our Capital Markets Division, so I’ve sought outside work from them. New associates might be able to follow up on a particular interest early on like I did. It really depends on availability.”
Lots of opportunities to hone skills
“I had limited experience coming out of college in credit and banking skills, only a class or two in each field. I’ve really improved in those areas and in my financial analysis skills.
“In college you don’t learn how to deal with challenging people and situations; you can only learn that through experience on the job. At work you get thrown into situations where you have to deal with disagreements in different situations. In our communication training, we’re given practice in asking tough questions, dealing with different opinions with staff at associations — like about rating the riskiness of a loan — and within the agency. I’ve really improved at dealing with uncomfortable news.
“Like most of my class, I had no experience with the FCA writing style. It’s deductive — you start with your conclusion and work down to the details, as opposed to the more traditional college style. I’ve improved at that and understand why we do it that way. Writing was a weak subject for me in college. This way is more logical — be concise, get to the point, draw a conclusion, and support it with specific details. I’m more of a bullet-point writer, and generally, I’ve been allowed to do that, depending on the assignment, so there’s some scope here for personal style.”
“I check my email first thing to catch up on things. I’m a week-by-week person, so I plan out a series of tasks for the week. I’m also a morning person, so I crank out the detailed, tough work in the morning, and in the afternoon I do more planning and preparation. If I have something coming up the next week when I’m going on-site, the afternoon’s the best time to start preparing for that, getting documents ready to go, doing a little research on the association I’m going to.
“When you’re in the office, there are plenty of people to reach out to if you need help, but you’re working on your individual assignments.”
Working on bank examinations
“So far I’ve worked in about 15 states, spending about one week of travel per month, sometimes two.
“Working off-site is the opposite of on-site, where we do a lot of individual work. On-site, you’re usually on a team of about 10 people: 4 to 6 associate examiners like me, the examiner in charge, and roughly 4 other examiners. We’re asking the association staff questions and talking with each other. It’s always exciting to ask senior management questions, and the expectations are high. On-site, I jump into team mindset. I’m doing my own individual work, but there’s a team supporting me. I can bounce ideas off team members, and at this level, we’re working with trainers so we can run questions by them.
“On-site is the time to work as hard as you can, do as much as you can in a limited amount of time. When I’m on-site, it’s full go. I have to get as much done as I can in nine hours. We generally only have access to an association’s loans when we’re on-site.
“Sometimes an association will show us one of their borrowers’ operations. Up in Pasco, Washington, we visited a few apple orchards with staff from the association to learn about how apples are grown and harvested.”
Benefits of working at FCA
“A big perk is the 401(k) retirement matching, and the work-life balance is awesome. My boss is very flexible about my schedule, letting me move my flex day around when I need to. Vacation time is generous. And the pay-grade structure gives set criteria for moving up. I really enjoy the travel. I’m a competitive, fast-paced person, and with the basic training complete, I really enjoy the work. There are a lot of opportunities here even for associates. A couple of opportunities I’ve taken part in are leading our summer intern project and a research project for our Capital Markets Division. FCA is a good place to put down some roots.”
Gina Chmielewski, Examiner, Sacramento
"What we do as examiners is make sure that institutions operate in a safe and sound manner so they are around for the communities they serve…. A lot of times federal employees get a bad rap. It's nice to say we are doing something with a purpose; we are not just there for paperwork."
"I started at FCA in 2006, right after graduating college. I met with recruiters at a career fair, and it sounded like a job that would fit my background and interests so I applied. I went to the University of California at Davis. My major was managerial economics with an agriculture option.
"I did not have an ag background. In college, I took agriculture classes, such as agricultural economics and agriculture science (livestock, fruit production, winemaking, etc.). I had a class where I worked on the campus dairy, which provided hands-on farming experience.
"I was hired as an associate examiner for the Staff Development Division in the Office of Examination so I was in the pre-commissioning training program for the first three to four years.
"Since getting commissioned in 2010, I have been serving in the Association Examination Division. I'm a generalist, and I have examiner-in-charge responsibilities. FCA has been supportive of continuing education. I received my Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification in 2016. I also completed an online master's program in 2014, graduating with an M.S. in management from Colorado State. In addition, I have taken classes and training to further my knowledge in areas like credit, finance, and fraud.
"There's no typical workday for an FCA examiner. When you have an exam, you go on-site to an institution. You analyze credit risk in individual loans by evaluating the financial condition and performance as well as collateral position and loan administration. You conduct interviews with loan officers and management.
"Once you get back into the office, you wrap up your work and look at different areas. Say you are doing finance, you're looking at all the institution's income statements, balance sheets and allowance for loan losses. You wrap up everything and send it off to the examiner-in-charge. When I'm in charge of my own exam, I do a lot of other work in the office, including email, reviewing other examiners' work and writing the Report of Examination. So there really isn't a typical day—it just depends where you are in the exam cycle.
Other opportunities: Federal Women's Program
"My term as chair of the Federal Women's Program ended April 1, 2015. I also represented the Federal Women's Program as a Special Emphasis Program (SEP) manager. I held these positions for two years. As a SEP manager, I met with other SEP managers within the Equal Employment Opportunity and Inclusion (EEOI) Department, including the EEOI Director, to discuss what activities our group was doing and any strategies in terms of concerns that people have at the agency.
"Monthly, our Federal Women's Group has its own internal meetings, as well. That's where we do our planning of activities, whether it's a Brown Bag event or a charity drive. We also have discussions to figure out how to make the workplace a better place.
Opportunities to hone skills
"Obviously technical skills are one area that I definitely have learned and improved on. When you come directly from college, you usually don't know a lot about how to do this job so that's why they train you through the pre-commission training program. From day one, you learn what a loan file looks like and how to make a loan. You also learn about credit and financial analysis.
"Organizational skills and project management are key things that I've improved on since becoming an examiner. As an examiner-in-charge, you have to be really organized because you have different moving parts during an exam, whether it's coordinating with an institution's management for your on-site time and getting the information you need, to coordinating all the examiners on your exam team, making sure they know what they need to do and they have the resources they need.
"It has been a challenge to deal with opposing viewpoints. This happens more when dealing with institution boards and management because often we have recommendations that they may not fully agree on, so you have to explain the benefits, the pros and cons of these recommendations, and the reasoning.
Benefits of working at FCA
"I feel like I am doing something useful as an examiner and a federal employee. What we do as examiners is make sure that institutions operate in a safe and sound manner so they are around for the communities they serve. Some of these institutions are in small rural areas so there might not be a lot of choices to get credit. So it's important that these institutions are there for these customers to be served.
"A lot of times federal employees get a bad rap. It's nice to say we are doing something with a purpose; we are not just there for paperwork. There's a true legitimate mission for what we do.
"In terms of tangible benefits, FCA is very keen on developing your skills—whether it's technical, communication, organizational or writing skills. You have the opportunity to continue your development and improve all the time. I think that's something you don't see everywhere so I find that a huge benefit.
"When I travel, I go to some small places with not a lot to do and I also go to bigger cities with lots of fun stuff to do. If you like to travel, it's great. You get to go all across the country.
"There are a lot of good people in our agency and it's really nice to work with people who are fun but also respectful and professional."
Patrick Fairchild, Examiner, Senior Credit Risk Specialist, Bloomington
"Probably the best aspect about working for FCA is the staff and team philosophy. There are always staff members available who are willing to help you succeed."
“FCA was my first job out of Iowa State University, where I earned a B.S. in finance. Growing up in rural Iowa, I worked in my family’s shop repairing large farm equipment and also worked for local farmers in the summers and at harvest time. I knew I wanted to go into banking or a related field, so when I attended a career fair at Iowa State and talked to two FCA examiners from the Bloomington office, I felt that FCA was a good fit for me. I started right after graduation in May 2006.
“I initially worked in FCA’s Staff Development Division, where I learned the examination function through formal classroom instruction and on-the-job training. After about two years working directly with and receiving valuable guidance from trainers, I began directly assisting an examiner-in-charge in the oversight and examination of one large association. In October 2009, I completed the FCA Commissioning Test and became a commissioned FCA examiner.
“The life as an FCA examiner consists of both office days and on-site examinations. During office days, you complete follow-up work from on-site examinations as well as routine oversight examination activities, such as reviewing board minutes, audits, business plans, annual reports, financial statements, and credit reports. The on-site examination work involves reviewing loan files, completing various examination sections, and other examination-related activities. I find the diversity of loans in Farm Credit System institutions very interesting—dairy, swine, beef, renewable fuels, corn, soybeans, cotton, the list goes on. We talk to loan officers about any concerns we have about certain loans and classify the loans according to various credit risk factors. We also need to reach conclusions regarding each examination section we are reviewing and ensure the institution is in compliance with all applicable regulations.
“I’ve always considered myself a detail-oriented person, but this job really honed my attention to detail. I’ve also improved my writing—you do a lot of writing—and my communication skills have definitely improved. The job of a bank examiner requires constant communication with colleagues, FCA management, association management, and boards of directors.
“Before I accepted the job, I thought the travel aspect would be challenging, but it hasn’t been an issue for me. The travel is typically scheduled well in advance and I estimate that 40 to 50 percent of my time so far has involved traveling to training sessions or examinations. The locations where you travel are interesting and you get to see different areas of the country while meeting a diverse group of people.
Benefits of working at FCA
“I believe the benefits at FCA are excellent and the Agency places significant emphasis on being family-friendly. Work schedules are flexible, and the amount of family sick leave, personal sick leave, annual leave, and holiday leave provides great flexibility to balance work life and family life.
“In addition, FCA promotes continuing education both before and after you become a commissioned examiner. Probably the best aspect about working for FCA is the staff and team philosophy. There are always staff members available who are willing to help you succeed.
“Lastly, working for FCA, an independent Federal Government agency, provides the satisfaction of public service while helping fulfill the mission of the Farm Credit Administration.
“Overall, FCA has offered me a lot of great opportunities throughout my seven years with the Agency. About a year after becoming commissioned, I was selected to serve as a trainer on the Staff Development Division, training newly hired examiners. After serving two years as a trainer, I was then given the opportunity within FCA’s Market Risk Division to examine banks and large associations. Most recently, I was selected into FCA’s Credit Risk Specialist Program. Throughout all the transitions, I maintained examiner-in-charge responsibilities of one or more Farm Credit entities. The opportunities provided by FCA are endless if you have a passion for what you do. I believe I have found my career, not just a job.”
Morgan Littleton, Associate Examiner, McLean
"I was surprised at the world of opportunity here. I’ve had conversations with people who’ve been here quite a few years and they say the training and classes never stop. The sky’s the limit for an examiner."
“I’m one of the few people who didn’t get introduced to FCA at a career fair. I was unfamiliar with the agency when I saw the ad on USAJOBS, but everything about the position fit the bill so I applied.
“Some of my college professors were involved in the banking industry, and they got me interested in finance, accounting, and auditing. I like getting behind the numbers. I had one professor who was never satisfied with the surface answer, who told us to always dig deeper. I think that background has been a good match for this job. We’re also taught at FCA to dig deeper.”
“Pretty much as soon as we start, we enter a training program, which is great, because a lot of us don’t have ag backgrounds. Within the first week, we had an introduction to FCA and the ag lending world. Once we got the foundations, we took classes on credit, finance, and communication.
“In the communication classes, we learned how to tactfully ask for more information when we’re talking with people at the associations. The head of the FCA training program is really big on continuously asking ‘why.’ We’ve learned not to be satisfied with the first answer because we might find something more we need to address.
“For ag, the biggest thing I’ve been exposed to isn’t necessarily operations, but the risk farmers and people in the ag industry face, such as weather, disease, or contracts.
“We get to travel all over the country; we don’t necessarily focus on a particular region. I think there’s a desire to mix it up so we stay current in the different districts, which is great. The districts have different ways of doing business, different systems and processes. It’s good to get exposed to all those differences.
"There’s a positive level of stress here. The demands aren’t so high we can’t meet them. There are times when we need guidance, and we have trainers who know what they’re doing; they’re experts. The training team is fantastic. We have the resources to help us learn the job.”
Lots of opportunities to hone skills
“I feel like every week I’m learning something new. That’s something I’ve really enjoyed about this job. It’s a continuous learning process even for some of the people who’ve been here for decades. I think even they would say they’re still learning as they adapt to new regulations or work with new people or go to new places.
“I know I’ve improved in terms of communicating about work-related issues with the association staff. You learn with practice on the job.
“I feel more comfortable doing the job than when I got here — looking at financial statements, knowing how to address regulations, looking for compliance.
“FCA uses a different form of writing from what we’re taught in college, and that takes some time to get used to. Here, it’s ‘get to the point,’ whereas in college, you need to write a certain number of pages and words so you can end up embellishing things that aren’t important. Here people don’t have time for fluff. You need to get to the point and provide valuable content. I’ve learned how to trim down, provide value to the reader, to just say what’s important, and then provide the support. I’ve also learned how to juggle multiple assignments and to prioritize.”
“It depends. There have been really busy days where I’m juggling several tasks. Sometimes we do remote exams. I might be doing scheduling or routine paperwork. I might work on projects with a group. Sometimes there’ll be an ad hoc project. Right now I’m working with summer interns, providing guidance about what they need to be looking at. At this stage of the training program, we share everything we do with trainers. I need to make sure I get my work to the trainers on time. To sum it up, every day I have to ensure that I’m attending to all of my assignments in a timely manner; I have to make sure my work is prioritized.”
“Time on the road varies. Up to now, there’s been a lot more travel in the summer. Last year, I spent 70 nights on the road. The amount of travel changes throughout your career. At the beginning there’s more travel. Then, when you become an examiner-in-charge (EIC), there’s less travel because you go to fewer associations.
“The travel opportunities really caught my eye. In this job I’ve seen a lot of the U.S. I’ve been to a lot of places I might never have gone, like North Dakota, Missouri, and Arkansas. I’ve also been as far away as California, and as close to home as Maryland. It’s truly nationwide.”
“As associate examiners, we’re automatically on the examiner track. We take the commissioning test a little more than three years after we start. It’s in the back of my mind, but I’m not stressing about it because I know the training program is very structured. When we are taking training courses, we have periodic tests. For example, at the end of the Credit 1 class, there was a test. What we learn in these classes is tested on the two big tests we take — one at the end of year 1 and one at the end of year 2 — called technical evaluations (TEs). The TEs are like progress checks.
“After you pass the commissioning test, you become the EIC of an association. You become the person who makes sure everything that needs to be looked at for the exam of that association gets looked at; you make sure you have a team and you make sure assignments are doled out. You are the point of contact for everything. It’s your responsibility to make sure the exam is conducted according to regulations and practices.”
Benefits of working at FCA
“FCA definitely puts emphasis on the work-life balance. I appreciate their acknowledgement that everyone has a life outside of work. Also, the pay is good, and the benefits — tangible and intangible — are great. I enjoy the travel and getting to know people outside of the office.
“A lot is expected of us, but we don’t have to meet sales numbers like you do in other finance-related careers. Our expectations are high; they’re just different from Wall Street’s.
“The job is great. I was surprised at the world of opportunity here. I’ve had conversations with people who’ve been here quite a few years and they say the training and classes never stop. The sky’s the limit for an examiner. Even the interns, to some extent, are on the same career path as the chief examiner. That’s amazing and humbling. But it also shows how much opportunity there is in this career.”
Michelle McCann, Examiner, McLean
"One of the things I like about this job is there isn't a typical day. We do a lot of different things depending on whether we are on-site or in the office."
"I started working for FCA in the summer of 2010. I learned about FCA through the career fairs at Virginia Tech, where I graduated with a degree in accounting and agricultural economics.
"As a college student, I interned with a System institution one summer, and the following summer I interned with FCA's Office of the Board. During my FCA internship, I got a chance to work on different projects and learn about the different offices within the agency.
"I went on a one-week loan review with the Office of Examination during that time and got to see what examiners do. I was intrigued by the travel and different aspects of the job. When FCA came to the career fair, I asked about full-time positions, and the recruiters encouraged me to apply when I graduated. After that, everything fell into place and I was hired."
"I was involved in agriculture from a young age, as soon as I was old enough to join 4-H and FFA. I stayed a member of FFA through college. My younger brother and I raised a few lambs and showed them at area livestock shows. During summers and winter breaks in college, I was a teller at our local community bank, so I became familiar with some aspects of banking.
"When I started at FCA, I received a variety of training through the commissioning program on credit and finance. After that, I transferred into the Association Examination Division and shadowed a couple of examiners-in-charge and learned that role as I prepared to take the commissioning test. I was commissioned in 2013 and became responsible for overseeing institutions
"One of the things I like about this job is there isn't a typical day. We do a lot of different things depending on whether we are on-site or in the office. An on-site day is different if it's an exam I'm leading as an examiner-in-charge or if I'm just participating in the exam work. If I'm leading it, I take on the role of making the assignments and making sure people have the information they need to do loan review and section work. Once we get back from being on-site, if I am the examiner-in-charge, I review everyone's work and compile a report to issue and present to the board. If I am just a participant, I complete my particular sections and submit them to the examiner-in-charge.
"As an examiner-in-charge I'm responsible for overseeing institutions and monitoring their ongoing financial condition and asset quality. I do quarterly evaluations to assign the FIRS [Financial Institution Rating System] ratings. I also review their board minutes as part of our ongoing oversight.
"I continue to participate in training. Now that I'm commissioned, the training is less formal. We get to choose the trainings we attend, either through different agencies or online.
Lot of opportunities to hone skills
"I also work on other special projects. I got to work with a staff member who does quality assurance for the Office of Examination. She performs reviews of our processes. I helped with a review of plain writing, to test if we are following those practices in our exam work and reports. Currently I'm on a workgroup to review and draft guidance on various issues.
"I've improved my communication skills at FCA. Due to the nature of our job, we do a lot of written and oral communication, with a broad audience of people—whether it's internally or working with the CEO, management team, and board of directors of institutions. I've learned to be more comfortable presenting in front of people and how to tailor our message to different audiences. Sometimes the message that we have to share is not always positive or easy. I've learned how to prepare for questions and reduce the adverse reaction.
"At first, it was challenging to get used to FCA's writing style and learn the different terminology. Through the training program and with experience, it gets easier. In college, you are used to leading up to the conclusion in your writing and here you start with your conclusion and support it after. Now it's second nature to write that way.
"At FCA, I appreciate working with a wide variety of people since we have offices across the United States. When we come together on exam teams we are able to gain and share different knowledge and experiences.
"I like traveling as part of the job. I've been to California, Texas, Maine, and different places that I probably wouldn't otherwise have been. I enjoy trying new and interesting foods, such as lobster in Maine and fried stuffed avocados in New Mexico. The opportunity to travel and experience new cuisines is just one of the perks of the job for an FCA examiner."
Lun Nguyen, Supervisory Senior Examiner, Bloomington
"Getting to work with a lot of different people is the fun part of the job. Every exam you're on, you're doing something different, working with different people."
"As a student at the University of Minnesota, I was involved in the INROADS Program—a two-year program to help college students from underrepresented groups develop their business skills and find jobs. Through INROADS, I got an interview with FCA for a summer internship in 2003. I completed the internship and started a full-time position the next year as an associate examiner.
"FCA puts all of its newly hired associate examiners through a rigorous commissioning program. Because I had a bachelor's degree in agricultural food business management, I already had the basic knowledge and skills I needed in finance, banking, and business, but the commissioning program really honed my skills and taught me what I needed to know to do the job. It's a really good program. The courses you take through the commissioning program teach you what you need to look for when you're examining an institution.
"Even after you get commissioned, FCA has a very good training emphasis. Supervisors and FCA management are really interested in employee progression and helping people along. They find out where an employee's weaknesses are and what their interests are and help them get training in those areas.
"After I got commissioned in 2007, I went through the Graduate School of Banking with the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The Graduate School of Banking was a very good program. It's designed for bankers, but they also allow regulators to go. It gives you a different perspective of what's going on at the bank level or the association level.
"There's really no typical day at FCA. Every day seems to be different. Right now I've taken a temporary training position with the Staff Development Division in FCA's Office of Examination. I've been providing feedback to associate examiners on their work, helping them through the commissioning process. I've also been doing some curriculum development — updating training slides and presenting them to associate examiners.
"At the same time, I also serve as an examiner-in-charge of an association with a $3 billion loan portfolio. As an examiner-in-charge, I assign tasks to examiners assigned to work on my association, and I review some areas myself, such as the institution's internal controls or loan portfolio management. Right now, I'm working with the institution on its standards of conduct, which is one of OE's National Oversight Program focus areas. So I wouldn't say there is a typical day at FCA. It just depends on what's going on that week or even that day. There's a lot of things going on, lots of moving parts.
Working on bank examinations
"Lately I've been traveling about 25 percent of the time. Traveling usually involves going to institutions to perform on-site exams. There are a couple of locations within driving distance of the office, but most of the time, I'm getting on a flight to get to a location. We go as a team to perform on-site exams. The size of the team varies from institution to institution. At this upcoming exam, we have eight people on-site.
"When we go on-site, we typically complete a loan review. We pull a sample of loans prior to going on-site and then review those loans on-site, looking at the five credit factors (character, capacity, capital, conditions, collateral). In my role as temporary trainer, rather than reviewing loans myself, I've been reviewing the work of associate examiners, making sure they are covering all relevant areas when reviewing loans and completing what should be done on each loan they review.
"We also complete 'section' work when we're on-site—that is, we evaluate the financial condition and performance of the association, its internal controls, its loan portfolio management, etc. And we have a lot of meetings with management while we're on-site—whether it's talking about the loans we're reviewing or those section areas.
"Getting to work with a lot of different people is the fun part of the job. Every exam you're on, you're doing something different, working with different people. You're not doing the same thing over and over again.
Lots of opportunities to hone skills
"When I first came on board, I felt that writing and presenting in front of people were not my strong suits. But with all the training and feedback and practice you get, you quickly improve in those areas.
Benefits of working at FCA
"FCA also offers a good career path. When I first started, there were fewer options. After you became a commissioned examiner, you could aim to become a senior examiner in which you supervise the examiners-in-charge of several institutions. After that, you could aim for a director position. But there were only four or five director positions and just a handful of senior examiner positions.
"Now it seems there are more opportunities to move to different career paths. There are opportunities in the Credit Specialist Program, the Capital Markets Specialist Program, and the IT Program. There are even opportunities in other parts of the agency — outside the Office of Examination.
"And the benefits are great at FCA. The pay is very competitive, especially for people coming right out of college, and FCA offers a good work/life balance."
Tuyen Pham, Examiner, IT Risk Specialist, Dallas
"One of the reasons I have stayed at FCA for so long is because my personal life has changed with marriage, family, and young kids, and FCA has been very accommodating and family-friendly."
"I learned about FCA through a career recruitment fair when I was a student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where I graduated with a banking and finance major in May 1987. I started in the Omaha office right after graduation and worked there for three years.
"After the reorganization and restructuring of the Office of Examination, I transferred to the Dallas office in July 1990. I have been at the Dallas field office ever since.
"When I joined FCA, I didn't have any banking background, but I did have some agricultural experience from my childhood in South Vietnam, where I lived in a small village. My family raised chickens that were both caged and free-range. It was organic before it was considered hip! As far as modern farming, I learned all of that on the job. Looking at our staff, I think we have a good mix of people who do and do not have farming backgrounds.
"When I started in the commissioning program, it wasn't as structured as it is now. Today, the program is a lot more mature. I went through the program and became a commissioned examiner in March 1995. Subsequently, I went through an Information Technology (IT) specialty program when it became a new career path at FCA.
"I got my CISA (Certified Information System Auditor) certification in July 2003, which is an international certification. I also attended a three-year banking program at Louisiana State University from 2010 to 2012. The student body is mostly bankers, but also includes regulators and other examiners. Through FCA's IT program, I also became a Certified Business Resilience Auditor in 2014.
"During my career, I've attended a variety of training classes on coaching, managing, conducting advanced examinations, and auditing. The commissioning program has gone through several changes, and I've participated in testing the program and being an assessor. In the week-long commissioning exam, new examiners have to go through a simulation process. I play an association loan officer and board member. We test the candidates on their ability to analyze loans, their written and oral communication skills, and their technical knowledge. I continue to be a part of that program.
"Along with that, I've also been a coach and mentor to help employees assess their technical skills. I also help them identify opportunities. I didn't have the benefit of having a mentor early in my career, and it's definitely a reflection of the maturity of the employee development program.
"I do safety and soundness examinations, as well as IT examinations. For example, I'm the examiner-in-charge of an institution so I'm responsible for conducting examinations, monitoring, and preparing reports. I also have the role of an IT examiner, where I am the examiner-in-charge of a large bank and I'm responsible for monitoring its technology, as well as its IT security environment, and governance. Because the bank provides IT services to the whole district, I need to be cognizant of the relationship to the associations. Getting to do both credit and IT examinations keeps my job interesting.
"My workday varies depending on the issues I am addressing. If I'm working on monitoring my regular institution, I will look at business plans and do quarterly oversight. I will do the same tasks as an IT examiner. I am in regular communication with management since I need to review information and provide my assessment. I might need to coordinate with other departments, such as risk supervision when dealing with an institution under an enforcement action or the legal department when dealing with borrower complaints. You never know when you walk in the door if unexpected issues will come up and turn your day completely upside down. It keeps it interesting. In my role as coach and mentor, I need to be available to make sure my mentee has his or her questions answered.
"When I'm on the road, I am responsible for overseeing the whole exam process, assigning tasks, coordinating meetings, reviewing assignments, talking to the loan officer, and meeting with management.
Lots of opportunities to hone skills
" I have learned a lot as an examiner, but most importantly I have learned to work well with others. Even though I consider myself a people person, I have learned to deal with different personalities at FCA. We are constantly working in a team so you interact with people who have different skills, experience levels, backgrounds, and work disciplines. You also work with different departments, so you work with attorneys, enforcement staff, trainees, and senior-level administrators. Externally, we work with people who are on the management level and on the board of directors. In the IT field, you must have highly technical knowledge.
"One of the current challenges I face is the fast pace of change. Looking back at my career as an examiner, I used to visit small branches with one branch manager and few loan officers. Organization structure and credit lending have become more complex and sophisticated. The risks involved are more challenging. In the IT field, the changes occur so fast it makes my head spin. It has forced me to continuously hone my technical skills and knowledge base.
Benefits of working at FCA
"Because FCA is a small federal agency, I feel I am treated as an individual—both professionally and personally. I have had some exceptional senior examiner supervisors who were very interested in my professional development, training needs, and career goals. My supervisor challenges me to step out of my comfort zone and is constantly looking out for opportunities for me.
"One of the reasons I have stayed at FCA for so long is because my personal life has changed with marriage, family, and young kids, and FCA has been very accommodating and family-friendly. If I needed to take time to go to the doctor or needed to travel less, my supervisors have respected my personal needs and I am very grateful for that.
"As a federal employee, we have excellent retirement benefits, as well as staff members who are interested in helping us figure out the best retirement options. This agency is interested in developing both my professional career and meeting my post-employment needs, which is definitely a plus."
Jarvis Tillman, Examiner, McLean
"FCA has this philosophy that no matter what you don't know, we're going to teach you everything we know. The staff goes through all these steps to get you on the same level as everybody else. Nobody is left behind."
"I learned about FCA in the spring semester of my senior year at Tennessee State University's career fair. I was an accounting major but knew I didn't want to be a staff accountant or have a dull, hum-drum job. FCA seemed like a good fit because it was non-routine. I interviewed with FCA and was offered the job two days before I graduated. You can say the rest is history. I had another job offer but FCA was definitely my first choice. I began my career at FCA in July 2011.
"I didn't have any farming or banking background so it was a very new field for me. When you first start, you learn about the Farm Credit System, as well as FCA and its different departments. FCA's training program prepares you to advance from associate examiner to the commissioned examiner level. You start with basic courses to learn the job—introductory agriculture, credit, finance, communications, and appraisal classes. People ask me if I'm pursuing my master's degree and I say, 'No, not right now, but it kind of feels like it.' Some of these classes last just a week, but if you calculate how many hours we spend, it almost equates to a semester class.
"When you graduate from college, you might be a little scared that you're not prepared for your job. FCA has this philosophy that no matter what you don't know, we're going to teach you everything we know. The staff goes through all these steps to get you on the same level as everybody else. Nobody is left behind. Everybody is going to learn the same thing, whether it's something you've learned before or something you don't know. This makes you confident in your job, especially when it comes to talking to management. You really need to be trained to do this job, and the system in place is very beneficial.
"I will transition to the Association Examination Division in October 2013. You typically do about two years in the Staff Development Division when you are first hired and then after proper evaluation, you are transferred to another division.
"There really are no typical days, which is one of the things I really like about this job. When I first get into the office, I check my emails and make sure that any communication needed gets handled first. After that, depending if I've traveled the week before or if I have travel coming up, I try to complete any travel authorizations or vouchers.
"My workload also depends on the time of year. After the quarter-end, we'll probably be doing a lot of quarter-end work for institutions, including completing financial institution rating system reports.
Working on bank examinations
"Right now during the summer months, we are doing compliance examinations, where we go to institutions and check for compliance with consumer lending and borrower rights regulations. This consists of checking for disclosures and checking procedure and policy manuals to make sure they comply with both FCA and federal regulations. Compliance exams tend to go a little faster than typical loan examinations and require a lot of traveling. Out of the past two or three months, I've been gone at least six to seven weeks. We usually fly in on Mondays and leave on Fridays.
"As the compliance exams come to an end in August, we'll go back to our typical loan review exams. That is when we do an analysis of the borrower's financial condition for risk identification. We're actually looking at loans for the five C's—character, capacity, capital, collateral, and conditions. When we're looking at a loan, we look at these five categories and determine whether the loan is classified correctly or needs to be downgraded. In addition, we examine credit administration on the account to determine whether it is satisfactory, needs improvement or is unsatisfactory. These week-long exams typically involve more communication with management because we might not know everything about the borrower from what we read. That is kind of nice because you're more engaged with the management team.
"Typically during the first two years, you're either going to be involved in compliance exams or loan review exams. The size of the team you go with is based on the size of the institution. The teams can range anywhere from three to eight people. We try to get interns involved with exams during the summer too. In my first year, I traveled probably around 40 or 50 percent of my time. This year I believe I hit the 60 percent mark. I've been gone at least two weeks out of every month.
"Although the amount of travel can sometimes be overwhelming, it is also one of the biggest benefits of this job. It's fun and you get to see parts of the country that you've never seen. A month after I started working, I had the opportunity to travel to Seattle, Washington, for the first time for a conference. In my first year alone, I probably traveled to 15 states.
Lots of opportunities to hone skills
"The biggest thing I've improved on is the ability to communicate effectively to a large crowd of experienced professionals, and to keep that intimidation factor in check. I realized I needed to improve my public-speaking skills when I gave my first board presentation. I was asked to complete lead sheets for some of the finance sections of one of the largest institutions in the Farm Credit System and present to the board. As the youngest staff member at the presentation, it was a big opportunity but also a challenge to overcome my nervousness and be confident in myself.
"I've also learned to delegate tasks and work cooperatively in a team. I always preferred to work alone on school projects rather than rely on a team. So when it came to leading my first compliance exam, I learned to delegate tasks because there was no way I could single-handedly examine an entire institution. I told my team that we've got to divide these tasks up equally so we can get the job done in the most efficient way possible.
Benefits of working at FCA
"I'm a big fan of FCA and my job. It's nonroutine, you get to work in teams, and have a lot of interaction with other people. Plus, you're always working on different things so it keeps things interesting. Although there are some things you do regularly, there's so much more involved with the job that you don't get bored. That's a big benefit.
"FCA offers very competitive pay—a huge plus. Also, just being a federal employee, the benefits are great. I can see myself at FCA for a very long time. I really do believe in FCA's mission and goals. When I used to think about agriculture, I knew being a farmer or rancher wasn't for me. But this is a different side of it, and I have always liked numbers.
"I love recruiting season because I get to tell college students how much I really enjoy the job. I tell them this is a really good deal."
Brianna Tomlinson, Supervisory Examiner, Denver
"One of the best things about working at FCA is knowing that we play an important role in agriculture and in providing safe and sound credit to farmers and ranchers across the U.S. It’s rewarding to see the role we play in the big picture."
“I came to FCA right out of college in 2008. I went to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, and I started to work at FCA about a month after I graduated. After seven great years as an examiner at FCA, I left to join a commercial bank as a relationship manager. But I missed working at FCA. I missed the comradery and the work-life balance, and I missed working in agriculture, so I decided to come back a year later. I now work as a trainer, which I really enjoy because it challenges me in new ways.
“I heard about the agency from a college friend who graduated a year ahead of me and went to work at FCA. She talked very highly of FCA, and when I went to the career fair at CSU, I met others from the agency who told me about the advantages of working here. Of the job offers I received right out of college, FCA offered the best flexibility and benefits.
“I have a B.S. in economics and a minor in finance, so FCA was right up my alley. I was leaning more towards the private sector, but the benefits at FCA caught my eye, as well as the good work-life balance.
“I did not come from a farming background. I think it’s easier to join FCA without the agricultural background than without the finance background. FCA has a robust training program, and what’s great is that they teach you everything you need to know — you just need to be coachable.
“Currently I work in the Staff Development Division and serve in the capacity of training others. When I joined FCA in 2008, I started off in this division, where all new examiners begin their career, and successfully completed the training program and passed the commissioning test in 2011.
“Upon passing the commissioning test, I had the opportunity to act as the examiner-in-charge of one of the largest associations in the System within the Market Risk Division. It was a very challenging, yet rewarding, experience — one that afforded me great learning opportunities as a newly commissioned examiner. I worked closely with a senior examiner who had been at FCA for many years. He is now retired, so I feel privileged to have worked with him and learned from him.
"I currently train and mentor associate examiners in their first few years here at the agency. I also aid in developing and revamping formal training courses for associate examiners that align with our commissioning program, as well as serve as an instructor for some of the classes. Being a trainer and mentor has been a wonderful experience in many ways. I enjoy working in staff development because the work is challenging and rewarding.
“When I’m in the office, a typical day starts with checking emails and following up on communication from associate examiners that I’m working with on an assignment or from Staff Development Division managers. Then I like to read the news clips, association reports, crop updates, and status reports from within our agency. After I do those things, every day is different.
“When I’m on-site, a typical day is a nine-hour workday. If we’re looking at loans, we generally pull a loan sample and work through the list. There’s always a group of examiners, and we all look at loans together and bounce ideas and concerns off of one another. We generally spend the whole week looking at loans and talking to loan officers, relationship managers, management, and sometimes to the board. As a trainer, a lot of my day is spent answering questions from associate examiners, sitting in on conversations with association personnel, and reviewing work the associate examiners submit to me.
“If we’re not looking at loans, we’re probably concentrating on one of the CAMELS areas — capital, assets, management, earnings, liquidity, or sensitivity. We also look at board governance, compensation and other areas based on a risk-based approach. It just depends on what the examiner-in-charge needs from us that week. And we’re typically busy from the time we sit down until the time we leave the site. Staying busy keeps it interesting.
Lots of opportunities to hone skills
“FCA’s writing style was probably the most challenging aspect for me to get used to as it is very different from college writing. It’s a deductive style. As a regulator, we state our conclusions first, whereas in college you’re told to put the conclusion at the end. My writing can be a bit wordy, so it was hard to get used to stating very concisely what my conclusion was up front and then supporting that conclusion in the body of the document.
“My credit and finance skills have improved since I joined FCA, but what surprised me is that my written communication has greatly improved, too. Needless to say, we do a lot of writing as regulators. My public speaking skills have also improved because, when I was an examiner-in-charge, I had the opportunity to give board presentations and speak in front of executive management teams and board members. Even though I am not currently an examiner-in-charge, I hone my public speaking skills by instructing formal training courses.
“Travel time ebbs and flows. As a trainer, my travel is much more frequent than when I was an examiner-in-charge.
“I thought initially that the travel would be difficult — you know, constantly being on airplanes and in airports. But in all honesty, it hasn’t been. Once you’ve done it a couple of times, you get in the groove. Plus, you constantly get to go to different places. There are definitely better locations than others, but traveling with a team of examiners from across the different field offices gives you a chance to get out of your comfort zone, meet new people, and try new things.
Benefits of working at FCA
“One of the best things about working at FCA is knowing that we play an important role in agriculture and in providing safe and sound credit to farmers and ranchers across the U.S. It’s rewarding to see the role we play in the big picture.
“Plus, FCA examiners really have a unique opportunity to go — right out of college — and talk face to face with executive management teams and with boards of directors. These are people with years and years of experience and we get to learn from them as soon as we are hired on — there are not many places where you can say that as a new employee. I’ve always tried to surround myself with people who are more experienced or more knowledgeable because that’s really how you’re going to learn.
“Another benefit is getting to go on farm tours. It’s great to get out there and see what the farmers are doing across the U.S. Not coming from a farming background, I was unfamiliar with the efficiencies and inner workings of farm operations. When a farm tour opportunity arises, I am always eager to participate. Each operation is fascinating and unique. There is some great work being done out in the field, and to be able to witness it first-hand is a priceless experience.”
Ashley Waldron, Supervisory Examiner, McLean
"In my first few years as an examiner, I significantly improved my skills in financial analysis; credit analysis; teamwork, which is a big part of the examination process; and communication skills — both written and oral."
“I first learned about FCA at my university’s business career fair during my senior year of college. I had never heard of FCA before, but my major was finance and I saw that was one of the majors FCA was looking for. I stopped at the FCA booth and talked to the recruiting folks. I had another job offer I had been considering, but FCA appealed to me the most mainly because of the flexibility of the work schedule and also the travel aspect of it.
“I started working at FCA in June 2009 just a few weeks after I graduated, and now I’m going on 10 years here. I went to the University of North Texas in Denton.
“I did not have any sort of farming or ag background before I started working at FCA. The closest thing I had to a banking background was a finance degree. An ag background certainly would have helped, but I wouldn’t say that not having one has hindered me in performing my job. There’s lots of training FCA provides and they basically teach you everything you need to know in order to do the job. Then, as you are out in the field, you pick up additional knowledge in working with various institutions and working with more tenured examiners.
“I started in the Staff Development Division (SDD) when I was hired at FCA. The SDD has a structured training program for new associate examiners, and it involves every facet of the job. You get training on farming and agricultural terminology, ag and farming processes, credit, finance, appraisal, communications, audit, governance — everything you need to know to become a commissioned examiner down the line. I eventually transitioned to the Association Examination Division in October 2011, where I worked for more than six years.
"I moved back to SDD in January 2018, this time around as a supervisory examiner, which is my current position. In this role, I supervise and train SDD associate examiners. It’s very fulfilling as you help them develop and grow their skillsets on the path to hopefully getting commissioned.
“In the office, my day always starts with checking my email. I’ll address anything that is pressing and then move on to whatever I happen to be working on that week. There’s not really a typical day in the sense that I’m always reviewing different areas assigned for different institutions we happen to be working on at the moment.
Working on bank examinations
“When we are on-site, we’re typically reviewing loans completing an analysis on the five C’s of credit [character, capacity, capital, collateral and conditions] and then evaluating credit administration areas. Besides loans, we also do things like assess financial condition and performance, review asset quality, or examine corporate governance areas. The assignments depend on the scope of examination set by the examiner-in-charge as well as the learning and development needs of SDD’s associate examiners.
Lots of opportunities to hone skills
“In my first few years as an examiner, I significantly improved my skills in financial analysis; credit analysis; teamwork, which is a big part of the examination process; and communication skills — both written and oral. Public speaking really is a huge part of the job. We’re meeting with management teams and boards of directors, and we’re giving presentations on the results of our examination work. The power of persuasion as you communicate with management and boards of directors is really important.
“In my new role as a supervisory examiner, soft skills are increasingly critical. There are many difficult conversations to have, decisions to make, and outcomes to manage. I’ve had the opportunity to improve my leadership, supervisory, and communication skills.
Benefits of working at FCA
“Some of the benefits of working at FCA are the flexible work schedule, the work-life balance, compensation, and benefits. We get a nice amount of vacation time and sick leave benefits. I’ve seen lots of different parts of the country that I would probably never have otherwise seen. There are also great people that work at FCA.”
Tiffany Wayland, Examiner, McLean
"Sometimes I stop and think, ‘This is amazing because two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.'"
“I started at FCA in June 2015. I just finished my second year, and I’m an associate examiner in the Staff Development Division right now. This fall I’ll transition to the Association Examination Division.
“I grew up on a farm in Virginia, so I have an ag background. My dad is a beef cattle farmer with a cow-calf operation. I went to Virginia Tech where I was an agribusiness major. So FCA is a good match for me. I found out about the Farm Credit System and FCA through school. I interned at a System association for two summers when I was in college. I also really liked the idea of traveling because I didn’t do a lot of traveling when I was growing up.”
First days on the job
“There is a settling-in period. The first week was human resources-type things. People come and introduce themselves. They chat and check in on you, which is really nice.
“Because we have access to customer information — financials, Social Security numbers, bank accounts, credit reports, that type of thing — we need to get a security clearance, similar to a public trust security clearance. That just means filling out forms and having an interview with a background investigator.
“A benefit of working in McLean is that, in the cafeteria and in general in McLean, you see people from different offices. As for the people in the field offices, they come to McLean for their new employee orientation where they meet everyone in their class and learn about the other offices in the agency.
“I’d say the people are probably the best part of working here. The agency, and the Office of Examination specifically, are so small that we all get really close.”
“The first couple of months, you’re doing training in the office on your own — reading through binders, doing online training, taking quizzes about what you’ve learned. The first summer after I was hired, I felt like I was going to college or like I was getting paid to learn. All the classes we’ve taken here are really beneficial.
“We all come in with different backgrounds. I think my biggest shock coming into the job was the diversity of backgrounds. A lot of people come in with finance, accounting, and banking majors. That’s been really helpful because, in my class, we all have different experiences that we can bring to the table to help each other learn when we’re studying for tests or doing exam work.
“The training definitely gives you an opportunity to learn things you don’t know already. No matter what your background, you are going to be missing a piece of the puzzle. I was lacking some of the finance knowledge. But you learn what you need. They train you on everything.
“The classes are spread out through the commissioning program. We also take two big tests — one toward the end of the first year and another toward the end of the second year. Those are knowledge and simulation tests to assess how you’re doing so far and if you’re where you should be. About two months before the test, we are given an overview of the test — how it’s set up, what you can expect.
“I was surprised at how much training we get and how people help with everything. I go to people in the classes ahead of me all the time with questions. That was a surprise — that you can get help from everyone. I was also surprised at how structured the entire program is, the trainings, the tests, and checkpoints along the way. “
Lots of opportunities to hone skills
“Sometimes I stop and think, ‘This is amazing because two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.’
“The writing style here is a lot different from what’s taught in college, so that has been a big adjustment. The trainers review our work, and we get a lot of help and a lot of feedback. It’s a huge learning process.
“We also learn a lot about communicating. We all take two communication courses where we do simulations of situations we might find ourselves in. This was really helpful so we’d know what to expect and be able to prepare to answer questions.”
“There is not a typical day because you’re always assigned to something different. Even loan reviews aren’t typical because you get different types of loans that have different nuances because the borrowers are all different, with different commodities. It’s a big learning process.”
“I started working here in June 2015, and at the end of August 2015, I began going out to associations and getting on-site training. In-person, classroom-style training started, too. People who work in the Office of Examination give the training — on credit, finance, communication, compliance, as well as other topics. We go to a class in one of our field offices. It’s like college with lectures, PowerPoints, classwork, and homework. You study and take a test at the end of each class.
“So far, I’ve been to Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Texas, Kansas, North Dakota, Colorado, California, and Missouri. When we are on-site, there are lots of things to explore and see.
“Sometimes we have the opportunity to go on farm tours when we go to the associations. In Florida, we went on a tour of a farm that grows sugar cane, which was really interesting because I didn’t know how it was grown or harvested. We also went to a large-scale flower nursery. Other associate examiners have recently been to large cattle feedlots and a potato farm in Idaho.”
Working on bank examinations
“After the first couple of months of training, we started working on association examinations. At first, we started by going on loan reviews. We work alongside commissioned examiners, specialists, and the examiners-in-charge (EICs). We’re doing smaller, less complicated accounts than they are, but the work definitely counts.
“For the first two years, a trainer goes on the exams with you. They review your work, answer your questions, and help you with anything you need because this is your first time looking at loan files. We look at individual borrowers’ loans and identify credit risk; we make sure the association has identified credit risks and that they’re doing all the correct things for compliance and credit administration.
“We do little bits and pieces of everything and learn about things one at a time. Usually the week after a loan review, you come back to the office and wrap things up. Then you’re assigned to other off-site activities. We also work on finance activities, like the quarterly FIRS [Financial Institution Rating System] reports. We are given the opportunity to work on all types of exam work — evaluating management, governance, policies, and compliance with our regulations.”
Craig Wondra, Senior Examiner, Bloomington
"It's rewarding to work with new employees and see them learn and grow in their roles and get commissioned. It's also rewarding to see institutions take measures to become safer and stronger."
"I learned about FCA when Agency staff came to interview students at my college, University of Wisconsin-River Falls, where I graduated with a bachelor's degree in agriculture business. My adviser and a college professor, who was a former FCA examiner, both recommended FCA as a good place to work. I was interviewed, offered a job as an examiner, and began work in January 1999, right after I graduated.
"I did not have a banking background, but did have a farming background. I grew up on a small dairy farm near Mayville, Wisconsin, with about 50 dairy cows and 200 acres of land. Along with my five siblings, I helped out with farm chores.
"I was in a pretty structured training program for the first three to four years of my career, until I became a commissioned examiner. I took formal classes along with on-the-job training, where I worked alongside commissioned examiners to learn the job.
"I've been in the Office of Examination in Bloomington, Minnesota, throughout my entire career at FCA. I've worked in different areas—first as an examiner, then on the division that trains new examiners and now in the Risk Supervision Division. I believe my training prepared me well and gave me the needed background. Once you are trained, you can follow your interests.
"I don't really have structured days. That's one of the good things about the job. There are days when you come into the office and the day may turn out completely different than you expected. I still participate in some examinations, but most of my travel now is to go to meetings with boards of directors. I travel about as much now as when I first joined FCA, but my trips are shorter, so I'm away for fewer nights. I enjoy some travel but, with four small children, it's harder to be away from home.
Lots of opportunities to hone skills
"Since joining FCA, I have improved my communication skills—both writing and giving presentations. I've also learned how to be more persuasive with bank personnel. It's important to explain the reasoning behind your conclusions so others better understand your view of a situation. I have also learned how to analyze information and come up with conclusions.
"Some of the presentations were challenging when I was a newer examiner. It can be a little daunting at first to present to a group of experienced bankers. Some of the examination concepts and issues are complicated and you need to work with your team to get the right answer.
Benefits of working at FCA
"I have been fortunate to work with some great people both in the Bloomington office and the whole agency. Even though I'm not involved in production agriculture, I'm still able to have a connection with the farming industry.
"When I attend college recruitment fairs, I mention salary, government benefits, and other interesting aspects of the job as benefits of working at FCA. You can have a desk job here but still be involved in agriculture. For many new examiners, travel is also a big incentive.
"The flexible benefits that come with a federal job are very good also. There are many opportunities for advancement, and you get the chance to work with different people and challenges.
"It's rewarding to work with new employees and see them learn and grow in their roles and get commissioned. It's also rewarding to see institutions take measures to become safer and stronger.
"I've had quite a few mentors in the Bloomington office over the years. If I have a question, I feel comfortable asking a coworker for their input. There's always been a support system in that sense. I've been here 19 years already, and the time has gone by very quickly."