NMP - December 2016 - 35


Future

environment like this. It is very
fast-paced and exciting-it's like
drinking from the fire hose for
them-and we ultimately want to
programmatically bring people on
and get them into a position
where they can earn and
succeed."
In creating the First Flyer
course, the company recognized
that not everyone who signed up
would be able to make it through
the entire endeavor-especially in
regards to the requirement in
passing the SAFE Act test, where
participants are given three
chances to make the grade or be
dropped from both the program
and the company payroll.
"If you don't pass, you can't
sell," warned Middleman.
Classes are now averaging
between 40 and 50 participants,

Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage
Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at
PhilH@NMPMediaCorp.com.

n National Mortgage Professional Magazine n DECEMBER 2016

with colleges and students at
career fairs," Middleman
continued. "At first, we had a
somewhat limited pool, so we
extended the targeted candidate
reach to include those with just a
few years out of college. We also
relied on the CareerBuilder Web
site for recruiting."
Participants in the First Flyer
program become salaried
members of Freedom Mortgage
and are expected to go through
a series of learning tracks,
including sales, underwriting, IT,
loan analysis and servicing. The
coursework is taught by Freedom
Mortgage employees, with the
goal of helping program
participants pass the various
tests required for full-time
employment in the mortgage
progression.
"We ask a lot of them," said
Middleman of the program's
participants. "They are put in a
new position with new rules.
Many are just out of school and
do not know how to work in an

35

NationalMortgageProfessional.com

For her part, Rugge had a
sense of been-there/done-that in
dealing with young people that
sort of fell into mortgage jobs
rather than actively pursued
them.
"I graduated from Eastern
University with degree in
anthropology," Rugge said. "I
opted to be a loan advisor, and
spent time in processing and as
customer service advisor."
"We were able to create a
program that encouraged
participants to learn and want to
do something new-if they were
willing to put in all of the effort
that was required," Middleman
stated.
The premiere of the First Flyer
program occurred on Jan. 26,
2015, with a focus on upcoming
and recent college graduates
from schools located near the
company's headquarters in
Mount Laurel, N.J., and its office
in Columbia, Md.
"We had a recruiting group
that started building relations

and the company has been
pleasantly surprised that the
dropout rate is below its initial
expectations.
"We created the program with
a 75 percent retention goal,"
said Rugge. "We are above
that-we have about a 20
percent dropout rate."
A typical First Flyer program
participant is Allison Riss, who
arrived at Freedom Mortgage in
pursuit of her first post-college
job.
"I came to this from my
college, Rutgers, through its
career center," Riss said. "I had
seen a couple of posts and
Freedom Mortgage
representatives visited my
campus. I knew nothing of the
mortgage industry, but I knew I
was good at numbers. So I said
to myself, 'Let me give it a try.'"
To Riss' happy surprise, the
First Flyer program was far
removed from the academic
environment that stressed
individual studies. Instead, she
thrived in a team culture that
offered encouragement at every
level.
"The community support they
have is incredible," Riss
continued. "I've never felt so
involved. I started in June, and in
the first month we had three
different teachers that helped us
go through our books. Once we
passed our first test, we went
into operations. Two to three
months later, we took the state
license exam. In preparing for
that, the instructors] held our
hands throughout whole
process."
In January, Riss will graduate
from the program and become
part of the Freedom Mortgage
operations.
"I hope to be a team leader,
and then a sales manager," Riss
said. "It's great working at
Freedom."
Looking ahead into 2017 and
beyond, Middleman is not eager
to rush the First Flyer program
too quickly, if only not to create
a new disruption within the
company.
"As you grow, it can be
difficult to maintain the core
competencies that got you to
where you are today,"
Middleman explained. "We want
a thoughtful and programmatic
growth that will enable us to
maintain the basic culture of the
company."



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NMP - December 2016

Contents
NMP - December 2016 - Cover1
NMP - December 2016 - Cover2
NMP - December 2016 - 1
NMP - December 2016 - Contents
NMP - December 2016 - 3
NMP - December 2016 - 4
NMP - December 2016 - 5
NMP - December 2016 - 6
NMP - December 2016 - 7
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NMP - December 2016 - Cover3
NMP - December 2016 - Cover4
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