Brandon Popalis masters the learning curve on his journey from intern to Analyst

First National Financial LP Nov 15, 2022   mins

Brandon joined our internship program as a Property Tax Administrator in the summer of his third year at St. Francis Xavier University where he was studying business administration (finance).

First National is one of many companies that offer paid internships to students hoping to enter the financial services industry. But it is the only company that employs Brandon Popalis.

Brandon joined our internship program as a Property Tax Administrator in the summer of his third year at St. Francis Xavier University where he was studying business administration (finance).  That four months in 2017 was formative as Brandon gained experience in a professional setting, learned business processes and networked to add knowledge. 

Because he liked his colleagues and felt that First National was “a place I was going to be provided with an opportunity to grow as long as I was willing to put in the work,” Brandon returned full-time in 2018 after graduation. Commercial Mortgage Funder was his first permanent position but by mastering the learning curve, he was quickly promoted to Junior Analyst (2019) and then Analyst working on sizeable and complex commercial loans.

For those thinking of applying for or who are already participating in our internship program, Brandon’s story serves as an example of what is possible with First National’s help.

Learning and Self-Confidence: Key Pillars of Success

First National puts a premium on personal self-confidence and learning. These core corporate values were evident to Brandon soon after he joined our team. During his internship, he and a colleague paid a visit to HR to express interest in a future career at First National and was rewarded for his initiative with a referral to our commercial funding team where he was given the opportunity to job shadow. Brandon then took it upon himself to keep in touch with the department’s senior manager who ended up offering him a permanent job after graduation.  

For Brandon, self-confidence comes from taking on different tasks, asking questions, working as part of a team and seeing “the team achieve success. I become better as an individual in order to help out the team overall.” By showing his willingness to put in the hours and “showing I was eager to learn and understand the business,” Brandon demonstrates he is ready to take on more responsibilities and could be “trusted when more complex items” come his way.

While he extols the benefits of the different programs, manuals and courses that First National provides to help him learn, he has special praise for the “other employees who are willing to talk and share their experiences and perspectives.” His advice for today’s First National interns is straightforward: be patient and stay calm. “Growth comes in good time if you are willing to put in the work. Use the resources around you and you will be ok. I learned this really early on in my career. It helped me get to where I am today.”

As he looks back on the start of his career, Brandon says joining First National was “one of the better decisions I have made, still here almost four years later and enjoying every minute of it.” 

If you would like to speak to Brandon to discuss his experiences, he can be reached at brandon.popalis@firstnational.ca. You can learn more about First National’s internship program on our website.


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