I used to have an intense case of imposter syndrome. It still likes to creep up on me on occasion, but the more I work with and talk to other people in my same position, I’m realizing most of us don’t come into this job with a background in math, analysis, or college degrees. My only hope is that by sharing a little bit of my story and some of the stories I hear out there, I help someone else gain the courage they need to fully embrace their evolving role at a credit union or CUSO.
For anyone who doesn’t know, I came to the CUSO industry with only one year of college education and a few years of customer service experience. I had been working at a gas station as a brand-new mom when I decided it was time to find an organization where I could build a career so my son and I could have a better life. I received a link to the call center job application for Xtend and applied in the middle of that night while I was up with my son. One month later I found myself working as a part time call center representative, working primarily with conversion calls before I found a talent for outbound phone calls. I was fortunate to get the job as our first ever outbound team lead, and after about nine months in that position, I joined what was our BSR team and helped out with call center service onboardings (inbound, outbound, and lending services) and taking over the RevGen and custom campaign services.
Over the course of the two years working with CEOs, marketing directors, member services teams, and lending teams from credit unions all over the country in this marketing and service onboarding role, I managed to compile a wealth of knowledge. For every report I generated, there were questions from the staff to better understand what the numbers meant. Every time I had to pull together a target audience, I had to think on my feet for if what the credit union was looking for was even possible, and where it would be found within the system. I walked through data sets with credit unions, helped them learn how to track things on their own, and was able to get pretty detailed in my ways of hunting down answers to the data behind the campaigns. This led into my role that I have today, as Xtend’s Business Intelligence Manager, and I have enjoyed the growth this role brought out of me. I’ve learned more about credit union operations, memberships, and products and service performance trends than I ever would have been privy to if I had stayed in the same role.
It all started with my deciding to leave a gas station and join a CUSO in an entry level position. I love that I can be a model for what internal growth and promotion at a company can look like, and I am hopeful for the opportunity to send the ladder back down and bring others up with me at some point. That being said, I know I’m not the only person out there who has come into their role at a CUSO or credit union without extensive background education or prior experience in their current roles at the time of promotion. I’ve had amazing conversations with a woman in a credit union in northern Michigan who was working a customer service job when she got offered a job at the credit union as a teller. She’s not the marketing director and owned marketing and member relationships throughout the entire pandemic, not letting anything slow her down. I’ve had the privilege to talk to another prominent working mother in the industry, who started out as a retired police offer working as a teller at a credit union.
If you’re still sitting in a position lower than where you want to be, keep up the hard work – you will get there some day. Promote and advocate for yourself, manage up when you can, and don’t stop striving for more. If you’re doubting where you’re at, talk with your colleagues and leadership teams. Tell them what you’re feeling and why, and work towards solutions instead of running away. I encourage you to network with others in the industry, those in your role at other organizations, those who’ve been in your shoes already, and those so far past where you are that it’s a distant memory for them. You’d be surprised at what you find out that can help you gain the courage you need to own your role. With the right leadership, network, and team mates, anything is possible.