Senior Michael Hart interns at Neighborhood Finance Corp. in Des Moines

Sept. 1, 2010

Hard work, persistence and passion paid off for Luther senior Michael Hart of Clive, Iowa, during a summer internship with the Neighborhood Finance Corp. (NFC) in Des Moines this summer.

Hart was able to apply his economics education and skills to benefit a targeted Des Moines neighborhood and improve his financial data research abilities through a program with NFC.

Since its founding in 1990, NFC has originated more than $200 million in loans and grants and assisted more than 3,600 homeowners. NFC offers home buyer education free of charge. NFC also offers a tool lending library to eligible individual homeowners and not-for-profit groups with home repair and maintenance needs.

Hart, a double major in economics and Spanish at Luther, applied for an internship with NFC to gain experience in a financial organization and to better understand the kinds of jobs in which he might be interested.

Without the benefit of a step-by-step handbook to follow, Hart began his internship knowing the goals of the organization and the information NFC sought. His main project was a 30-page report that outlines NFC's loan portfolio. His research covered 20 years of loan analysis and 10 years of borrower demographics.

The results were beyond what NFC expected of the summer internship position.

"Michael was our first intern, and we needed someone who had the time and expertise to do research," said Holly Olson, NFC executive director. "Not only did he provide the necessary research and data, but he took it to the next step and offered conclusions from his compiled data. This information will prove useful with every aspect of NFC, from marketing to attracting potential investors."

Hart presented his report to fellow staff, the board of directors, half a dozen city planners and business lending leaders at several banks who were all impressed by his presentation and high-caliber work.

"I do presentations in class, but this was my first time presenting to business leaders in a community," said Hart. "You learn what to include, what not to, and how best to present the information."

In addition to the chance to display his skills, Hart now has a better idea of what job he will pursue after college as he hopes to find a position that is financially focused and challenges him.

"Michael is going to find success in his career," said Olson. "He’s dependable and intelligent. We would not hesitate to hire him again."

When asked what the secret is to a successful internship, Hart responded, "Find a place where what you’re doing is meaningful. Then they care about what you are doing."

For more information about Neighborhood Finance Corp. and its lending programs and services, visit www.neighborhoodfinance.org.