Developing confidence as a NERD

July 18, 2022 Chelsey Sleator
From student intern to new employee, see how Luke Ewan gained the skills and the confidence he needed to be successful through on the job training.

Employing people at all stages of their careers creates a culture built on a diversity of experience. By combining new ways of thinking with tenured industry expertise, it helps spark innovation.

One way the company brings in fresh ideas is through the Intern Academy. And this summer Schwab is welcoming 450 interns. But the Intern Academy is just one of many programs designed to foster diversity of experience and help the next generation of leaders begin and grow their careers.

The NERD (New Employee Recruitment & Development) program also launched a new cohort of 57 NERDs in June (2022). Luke Ewan, an employee of three years who recently relocated from Denver to Austin, was a beneficiary of both programs.

From student intern to new hire

Luke began his Schwab career as an intern in 2018 and was excited to join as a full-time software engineer in Banking Technology in 2019. However, he found the transition from student intern to employee to be more challenging than he expected.

“Coming out of college, I wasn’t very confident in my engineering skills,” explains Luke. “I knew the fundamentals, but I did not know how to implement them and needed to learn the technology for Schwab and the industry.”

Then Luke heard about the NERD program, a nine-month development opportunity designed to provide early career technologists with the skills, support, and expertise to be successful contributors and future leaders in Schwab Technology Services. Luke spent 20% of his time with his NERD cohort, and the other 80% focused on his day-to-day role with Banking Technology.

A community of support

“I found a community that encouraged me to ask questions and picked me up after I failed,” says Luke of the program. “I obtained the technical skills I needed with my team, but the NERD community gave me the confidence I needed most. Together our cohort had the opportunity to learn and overcome the apprehension we had in starting a new career.”

The program culminates with an innovation event called the NERDathon, where NERDs demonstrate and use the skills they learned in the program. Luke developed an onboarding app, and in doing so discovered a passion.

“After the program, I found myself continuing to help, especially with onboarding new NERDs, because I loved it so much,” he explains. “I recognized through my own experience that if there is no documentation or support systems, fear or lack of confidence can grow. I wanted to make sure others didn’t feel that way.” 

Helping future NERDs

In September 2021 Luke found a permanent role for himself in the NERD program—focused on onboarding of course. He also serves as a mentor to new NERDs and has realized how far he’s come.

“A while back one of the NERDs asked me a question that I’d also asked when I was in the program. And this time I was the one with the answer,” explains Luke. “That was a turning point for me in realizing that I’ve grown as a software engineer and in my confidence too.”