As I am learning more and more about the benefits of Credit Union membership and getting to know some of the people that work at 121 Financial Credit Union, it occurred to me that there might be job/career opportunities for teens at a Credit Union.
Yes, I know. Most of us don’t grow up day dreaming about working at a bank or a credit union. However, I realized that there are so many different types of job at a credit union – so much more than being a teller! It was also surprising to me to find out that 121 and other credit unions offer tuition reimbursement to their employees. This is a huge plus in my opinion because you could get a job with them right after high school and then they would help pay for your college classes!
I spoke with Gretchen Quisenberry the Senior Vice President of human resources over at 121. She answered all of my questions and took the time to explain more about how credit unions work and why they can be such a good place to work. Here is the conversation we had recently. I hope that it will be a help to you as you think about your future!
Me: Can you tell me the major areas or departments that are represented at a credit union?
Gretchen: Branch Offices, Lending/Mortgages, Call Center, Accounting/Card Services, Information Systems, Collections, Marketing/Business Development, Human Resources/Training, Business Accounts, Administration and our Executive group. Our smaller departments are: Branch Ops, Risk Management, Internal Audit and Admin Services.
Me: What specific employment opportunities are available for teens?
Gretchen: Entry level positions are feasible in the Branch Offices (Tellers), Administration, Admin Services, Lending, Collections, Marketing and possibly Accounting. If a teen has some technology experience, certifications or majoring in IT, then Info Systems could be an option. You only have to be 16 years old to apply for a teller position.
Me: Do credit unions normally promote from within?
Gretchen: Yes, we usually try to promote from within so that our current employees have opportunities for career advancement, plus it helps the new department since their new hire doesn’t need to go through credit union orientation again! Internal advancement at the branch level includes Financial Service Rep working with accounts and loans. Being promoted to Management of the various departments is also an option as employees learn more about the operation of the organization. Training is ongoing…
Me: Are there any departments or positions that require a college degree?
Gretchen: Those areas would typically be the Executive group, Accounting, Marketing, Human Resources and Information Systems (sometimes Training).
Me: Does 121 offer reimbursement for employees who are attending college?
Gretchen: Yes we do. Our policy relates to employees that are pursuing a major that is related to their job at the Credit Union or a business-type major that benefits the operations of the organization. We reimburse for tuition and books as long as the employee earns a grade “C” or better. We use the rates at FSCJ or UNF as a reference, but do not reimburse for the high costs at University of Phoenix or other accelerated programs (we do reimburse for these programs, but at the lower UNF rate).
Me: Why should a teen consider working at a credit union?
Gretchen: I believe that the Credit Union philosophy of “People Helping People” and motto of “Not for Profit, Not for Charity, but for Service” falls right in line with what young people have always focused on over the years. Credit Unions were created for the consumers as financial cooperatives back in the 1930’s and so there is a great purpose and focus on the “little people” as a financial institution.
Other reasons include the opportunity for entry level work, since training is always provided; the starting wage can be $10/hr. or more, depending on experience; the variety of departments (reflective of most businesses in the support or back office departments, i.e., accounting, marketing, IT); and the opportunity to advance and build a career versus just having a job.
Me: How did you get started at 121 and why do you like working at a credit union?
Gretchen: I was lucky enough to have a friend that knew about credit unions and suggested that I apply for a loan officer position. The job I actually ended up interviewing for and getting was “Branch & Administration Assistant.” I believe that people don’t generally start out thinking that they would major in business and work at a Credit Union. Most of our employees start out in a job here and move up, then realize that they’ve made it a career because they stayed so long. I started in January, 1983 and have worked at two credit unions here in Jacksonville. I have been at 121 Financial for 10 years now (my anniversary was November 1st)!
Me: Thanks so much for your time Gretchen!
So basically you can get a job at a credit union at 16, work full time by 18, there are a ton of different areas to work in AND they will help cover your college tuition? That is the definition of a no brainer! It really opens up some incredible opportunities for teens that we may not normally consider.
Many thanks to Gretchen for taking the time for an interview and thanks to my sponsor, 121 Financial Credit Union!