Falling into a Great Career

What do you want to be when you grow up?  When you are little, it was magical to imagine what you might grow up to be: a ballerina, singer, movie star (or today a YouTube star), an astronaut – the list goes on. Every choice sounded and felt achievable. However, then you got to high school and found out you can’t sing on key to save your life, or you were too tall or curvy to be a ballerina, so you sought a more attainable goal. I would also guess that the majority of you reading this didn’t say, “I want to work at a Credit Union.” Over my last six years, I have asked one question of most of the credit union executives I have met, and that is, “Why did you take your first credit union job?” Resoundingly the stories don’t venture far from my own story; I needed to make a car payment, see a doctor, and have a job until I found my career and passion.

That was me – six years ago. I had just graduated from college with a degree in Geography – Environmental Science with a certificate in Geographic Information Systems. In short, on paper, I am qualified to make maps and understand the data that goes into building them.  Shortly after achieving that degree, my grandfather died just three days after turning 98. During the time I was in school, I was also caring for my grandparents while my parents worked.  All in all, life got in the way of me finding a real job and my passion.

That’s not to say I didn’t search for a job that fit my educational background. In fact, there were many jobs in my field; however, they were all contract jobs, which meant, I was going to be looking for new contracts every six months, and I would not have any benefits like health insurance coverage.  So, as a “last resort,” I took a job as a teller at the Credit Union. I took this job because my dad (Rich, host of this site) and mom worked for credit unions and, the job had benefits.  I would also have my first paycheck before my car payment was due.  I figured – hey, this will get me through until I find my real career.  Credit Unions were not meant to be my forever, and yet, that is what they became.  I quickly fell in love with my members, their families, and their struggles.  I discovered how to help people who didn’t even know they were in trouble.  I have made a life and career from Credit Unions, just like many of the people I have met in my journey.

I fell in love with helping the members, the cooperative spirit that makes us all better, the chance to color outside the lines and make new pictures all around, of working incredibly hard and having a blast every day while making life-long friends and meeting people from all around the country.

I know we have all asked ourselves, how do we get people to want to work for a credit union? How do we show the world that this is the place to be?  Although you might not be a ballerina, YouTube star, or astronaut, you will be doing something pretty amazing! You will get to help people and have fun almost every day of your life. If you are lucky, you will find a rewarding, challenging career that goes beyond you and contributes to others.  I believe we can get people to want to work at their local credit union if we:

  • Raise our hand and share our thoughts, there are no boundaries to our growth.
  • Every day will be a Hodge Podge of being a superhero, counselor, advocate, and regular person.
  • Never let our voice – small or large – go unheard and unappreciated.
  • Allow ourselves to become a jack of all trades and a master of some.
  • Shout from the roof-tops that we never dreamed of working at a credit union, and yet now we wouldn’t dream of anything different. 

Because it is true – I never dreamt of working at a credit union – but now I can’t believe I ever dreamed of anything else.

About Mollie Otieno

Mollie is a Learning and Development Expert for a $2B+ Asset credit union. Over the past few years, she worked her way from teller to her current role. Mollie brings some fresh thoughts and compelling insights as she talks about working in a complex organization nurturing new professionals into the credit union world. Enjoy Mollie’s unique and entertaining ideas, a must-read for every aspiring professional.

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