Students get a look inside the banking industry

By Ryan Cornell

STRASBURG — Area students learned about the banking industry and shadowed bankers on Tuesday.

Eighteen high school seniors from Central, Skyline, Millbrook, James Wood and John Handley attended the Bank Day event at the First Bank operations center in Strasburg.

The students visited various bank departments and learned about the loan process, importance of good credit, profile of a qualified borrower, appropriate etiquette during a job interview, the Federal Reserve System and how First Bank is involved in its community.

Sponsored by the Virginia Bankers Association Educational Foundation, Bank Day has been celebrated in Virginia on the third Tuesday of March each year since 1991, though this marked the inaugural event hosted by First Bank.

Chandler Dewey, communications manager of the Virginia Bankers Association, said more than 230 students across Virginia participated in Bank Day this year.

Noting the one credit economics and personal finance course that Virginia high school students are required to take before graduating — which takes effect next year — she said the purpose of the association’s educational foundation is to increase financial literacy among students.

“A lot of times, people assume parents are the ones teaching these types of things,” she said. “…A lot of times, students go into college without knowledge of overdraft fees or how to write a check. We feel like we can better prepare them for that.”

Scott Harvard, president and CEO of First Bank, said it’s important for students to know about areas of banking because most of them headed to college will soon be taking out loans to help pay for tuition.

They’ll also face the tables that big banks set up during orientation week, he added.

“They’re just throwing credit cards at students the freshman year of college,” he said.

“My dad was a banker, and as a senior in high school, I wish I had this day to actually learn what he did.”

Logan Rutherford, 17, of Skyline, said he got to learn more about his mother’s job as the director of human resources for First Bank, and about how banks make their money through interest rates on loans.

“I thought they didn’t make that much money before,” he said. “I thought it was from a little bit of interest.”

He said he also learned about the importance of customer service.

“First Bank is big enough, but it’s small enough to know you by name,” he said. “It helped me realize what goes on in community banking and small business in general.”

Destiny Howell, 17, of Central, said she got an inside look into the banking system and learned about the duties of a bank CEO.

To be eligible to participate in Bank Day, high school seniors needed to have teacher support and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.

The students are now tasked with writing an essay about their experiences and can win scholarships. Six $2,000 scholarships will be given to winners in each region in Virginia and one statewide winner will be chosen from these winners for an additional $4,000 scholarship. These scholarships are funded by banks throughout Virginia.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com