Locked Work Update

So, if you're not on my Christmas list, you might not know that the company where I've been working since 12/12/05 is CitiFinancial Mortgage, which is the subprime division of CitiGroup's mortgage branch. I spent the first 10 days without computer access, because even though I work for the largest financial institution in all creation…the umbrella company so iconic that their logo IS an umbrella (yeah, okay, they stole that from Traveller's, but, hey…), the fact that I was hired during the holiday season, and in the middle of a stage by stage move (all the Dallas ops divisions are moving from scattered campuses to one big campus in Irving) meant that they couldn't manage to create a login for me.

So I spent a lot of time stacking files, and bringing files to underwriting, closing, audit, or escrow, which, if nothing else, forced me to meet everyone. And I mean EVERYONE. They may have taken ten days to give me computer access, but they're all so amazingly friendly…it's very cool. The people I didn't meet by wandering around being helpful came to my desk and said, “You're the newest processor on S's team, right? Welcome!”

Finally, the day after Christmas, I had access, and they threw me into processing. I think I scared our supervisor a little when my first four files came back with no underwriting stips (conditions). But, you know, in a good way. By the 7th of January, I had 10 submissions, two closings, and two declines (I'd never have sent them TO underwriting if I'd had the option not to, on those). And somewhere along the line the two male underwriters started calling me “Famous.” Well, first it was, “So, you're the famous Melissa,” and then it was shortened to just, “Hi, Famous.”

On January 11th, I was pulled away from the team and my pipeline to attend a month-long training class. If you've never done any processing before, or only a little, it's a good class. The trainers are upbeat, bright, funny, and generally nice people. It's not their fault they have nothing to teach that I don't already know. Really. But it's a requirement, and they welcome input, so I've been trying to balance being helpful with not showing off. Thankfully, they understand the need to be occupied, so they provided each of us with a bunch of pipecleaners, koosh balls, plastic slinky-like things, and small tubs of play-dough (the substance, but not the brand).

Yesterday, our training class ended at 3:15. The trainers can't release us from the building before 4:30, so we were sent to our managers, who, for the most part, said, “Enjoy the ability to bail while you can.” I pointed out that I was meeting Fuzzy at six, so had time available if there was anything to be done. (They know how bored I've been in this training. Not that the trainers aren't wonderful, marvellous people, but…out of the twenty people in my class, 5 are wholesale, 2 are ALP, and the other 13 are consumer direct. The five of us who are wholesale processors have oodles of mortgage experience. The ALP women use completely different forms and software than we do (ALP = Alternative Lending, they're the people who get our loans when even we can't do them), and the consumer direct people are all green, green, green.

So, for the first week of class, as we did things like spending an entire day learning how to read an appraisal (no, I didn't actually murder anyone. Really.) And on Monday and Tuesday they paid us – and I'm not making this up – to play Hangman to fill the last half hour of the day. ANd the whole time I've been politely telling anyone who asked “How's training going?” that the class is very good, if you don't already have oodles of experience.

Anyway, back to yesterday. I mentioned I had time to kill, they said, “Really??? Well A's alone on your team right now. Can you get two files done by the time you need to leave?” And I said, “Of course.” So I was given two files to process, and was done with one and 90% done with the other when we had to go. I came in early this morning to print the last few pages, and carry it to underwriting, and on the way back my manager stopped me and said, “So, about your training?” And I said, “Yes?”

“You're done as of tomorrow,” she told me.

“Oh?” I asked, trying not to jump up and down with glee.

“We need you on the floor, and you know what you're doing, and the underwriters say you don't make mistakes.”

“I try not to,” I said. “I don't like stips. It's like a game – how few stips can I get?”

She laughed, and said, “Exactly. Clearly you have a lot of knowledge, and it's being wasted. And I know you'd rather earn bonuses than play with clay.”

“Um, well, it was magenta clay, at least,” I said.

“So, you're finishing MAGIC (customer service stuff – it's FUN – it's ROLEPLAY!) tomorrow, and then you're back on the team on Monday, while everyone else does two weeks of software training.”

“THANK YOU!” I said.

So, yeah, I'm kicked out of training for knowing too much. Although, I'm going to ONE day of software training so I can learn the broker-engine in a training environment without my phone ringing, and have the opportunity to ask questions about some of the fields I'm not sure of in the main processing software. Still, two days is WAY better than two weeks.

Which brings us to this evening. I went to my desk to find out about my two files, and they were both approved. “Do you mind sending out the approvals before you go?” my manager asked. And of course I didn't. As I was working on them, my favorite underwriter, the one who gave me the name “Famous” walked by and asked how training was. I gave my spiel about the trainers doing their best to keep it interesting, and he said, “No. I mean, really, how is it for you?” So I told him, and he said, “Yep, thought so.”

I thanked him for the lack of stips on my file. He grabbed the folder and threatened to add some, “just cuz I've been too easy on you.” And we talked for a while about Citi's underwriting philosophy, and how they tend to be conservative with income but generous about credit burps.

“I want your job in a year,” I told him.

He said, “Totally possible. Talk to our manager A. She'll make sure it happens.”

I'm TIRED, but I'm really really happy about this decision to work for Citi. Really happy.