Please understand this: Credit unions need you, and you need them. A study by the Intelligence Group says that 64% of millennials give priority to making the world a better place. This fact often plays out when they are choosing employment. Millennials want to know they are making a difference, and what better place than a credit union where you can have extraordinary impact on peoples’ lives?
You are now part of an industry that is cooperatively committed to serving communities and providing financial products and services to people who need it. The credit union movement is full of some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met who are doing amazing things in their credit unions.
I entered the credit union movement directly out of college. If you are like me, you probably didn’t know what a credit union was until one offered you a job. During the next 11 years, I learned a few important lessons that helped solidify my commitment to the credit union industry and make a difference every single day. Here is my advice to you:
Learn from the leaders around you. The credit union hasn’t been successful by accident. There are many capable and seasoned people at your credit union who would be honored to take you under their wing, share their knowledge, and help grow you into a future leader.
Cultivate a thirst for knowledge. The old adage “readers are leaders” is extremely important if you want to continue to grow as a leader and executive. Moreover, some of the best lessons I learned came from studying different industries and companies that had nothing to do with credit unions or financial services. If something piques your interest, dissect it and try to adapt it at your credit union. As a result, this process will help further differentiate your credit union.
Find a mentor. If there is one piece of advice more important than all the rest, it is this one. We are programmed to be under this illusion that we have to have everything figured out all the time and that asking for help or guidance is a sign of weakness. That is complete malarkey. A good mentor will help you realize your own goals and aspirations and will challenge you to make them happen. I’ve had a couple of wonderful mentors over the years and I can say with 100% honesty that TwoScore would not be a reality without these people in my life helping me to realize my dream of being an entrepreneur in the credit union space.
Ask for career mapping. This is the professional equivalent of the “where is this relationship going” question. It is important for you and your manager(s) to be on the same page about where you see your career going within the credit union. Not only does it show them your intentions and help them with succession planning, but it will also help you to be more engaged in your job.
Get active on social media with other credit union people. It is easy to feel alone and isolated among a majority of employees who have been with the credit union a lot longer than you or if you are hired to do a new type of position. You are not alone. Go out on Twitter (or Instagram or Facebook) and search #creditunions and pretty soon you will find many other people as equally committed to spreading the credit union love. Plus, you’ll likely make a lot of great friends in the process.
Put yourself out there. There are a couple of really awesome programs out there to help develop and celebrate younger credit union employees. The CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec program was something I had the honor of participating in back in 2011 and it was a wonderful and invaluable experience on many levels. Crash the GAC was another pinnacle moment for me. Not only did I get the amazing opportunity to attend the seminal credit union conference, learn a ton about the credit union industry, and network with leaders from all across the country, but I also made several very close friends who I still talk to and see to this day. My point is, there are opportunities at a local, state and national level. Step outside your comfort zone and take those chances. You and your credit union will be all the better for it.
Think big. You’re going to have some crazy huge ideas. Don’t be afraid to make yourself vulnerable and pitch them to your credit union. Not all of them will be approved, but don’t let that stop you from thinking big. Credit unions were started because a group of people got together and came up with a big idea to meet their needs. Never stop thinking big and following your dreams.
Trust me, it’s going to get good.