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Freedom Mortgage’s First Flyer Program

We’re delighted to introduce you to Rachel Buckthorpe, Freedom’s Director of Talent Management. Since June 2013, she has been part of the Freedom family, learning the business and helping with marketing and company events before transitioning to HR/Recruiting in January 2015. She currently oversees the First Flyer, Fast Track, and Leadership Development programs.


If you’re looking for a way to break into the mortgage industry, Freedom Mortgage’s First Flyer program just may be the opportunity you’ve been searching for. Our First Flyer program provides career development for recent (0–2 years post-grad) college graduates who are not currently employed by Freedom Mortgage. The mission of the First Flyer program is to facilitate personal and professional development by providing educational, mentoring, networking, and functional opportunities. The goal of the program is to build the next generation of future leaders. Currently, the First Flyer program offers five different program tracks:

  • Sales
  • Underwriting
  • Marketing
  • IT
  • Analyst

“In this industry things change rapidly, and you must agile enough to adapt. If you can keep up, you’ll do great things here.”

“The program is a great opportunity since not many other companies in our industry have a training program like this,” said Rachel. “Freedom makes a big investment into our new hires and we have proven it works. Not only do First Flyers get practical experience, but they also have a chance to get a mentor, network with senior leaders, learn about the industry as a whole, and connect the dots to how their track plays a part in Freedom’s success. The program is also a great starting point for someone who just graduated college. Participants learn job skills, as well as technical and soft skills. This program really helps set people up for a career at Freedom rather than just a job.”

The First Flyer program started back in January 2015 and was modeled off the journey of Freedom’s own Katherine Rugge. “Kat started as a processor, learned the back end of the business, took the SAFE exam, transitioned to a Loan Advisor, and was really successful. Sales/Leadership wanted to replicate her journey. Today she is the Vice President of Operational Excellence – and still soaring with the firm as well as in her role.

When we started back in 2015, there was only the sales track and as mentioned, we have since expanded. The reason the program was implemented was to help develop the future leaders of the mortgage industry. You do not need to own a home or have 10+ years of mortgage experience to be successful. All you need is a passion to succeed and a desire to learn.

We realized that we can take teach someone SAFE and the mortgage industry. When you invest in someone’s career and their personal and professional development, they have a sense of loyalty to the company. It also helps for future recruiting efforts as well. You can point to someone and say, ‘they started with zero experience and through the program, they passed SAFE, they sold X many loans and now they are a sales manager.’ Once we really saw the success of the sales (Loan Advisor) program, we started to expand to other areas of the business as well. Soon after, we created the Underwriting, Analyst, IT, and Marketing programs. The First Flyer program started in New Jersey and then expanded to Maryland shortly after. We then moved out west to Arizona a few years later and in 2020, we expanded down to Florida.”

Ready to find your great beginning as a First Flyer? The time is now to #SoarWithUs at Freedom Mortgage. Check out all of our open positions by clicking here.

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