Can you imagine switching jobs in the midst of the Shelter-In-Place? Not seeing your office until five months after you get hired? Having to adapt within days to a completely new business outreach and client support program while still learning the clients themselves? This is exactly what our Client Success Manager, Julius Mitchell, went through when he was hired in early May 2020. In this article, he shares his experience with our readers.
By Julius Mitchell, Client Success Manager at Aux
Right before the spike of the COVID pandemic I was in the process of leaving my former employer to join Aux. Weeks after my interview for the new position, news stories of COVID cases and deaths in the U.S. from the virus began to overwhelm the news cycle. Here in Colorado, the pandemic would force our government to implement ordinances that severely limited people interacting in large gatherings. This rule also applied to most business operations, which included my new company, which I had yet to begin the usual onboarding process for new hires.
Instead of the routine steps new employees normally go through, the new hire process was met with social-distancing from the small number of superiors in attendance, exchanging handshakes with fist and elbow bumps, and making sure to wash my hands and wipe down surfaces with disinfectant. Right after I was provided the information on my role and the company, I was then given my laptop and sent home to finish the rest of the day. Later, I was required to meet with other colleagues of mine that I would work with in some capacity all through video conference calls. For the first time in my career, I would be working in my position and with others digitally, remotely from my home, when most of my co-workers lived within the same region as me. It was quite an unusual process for a new career.
Since the onset of the global COVID pandemic, most of us have experienced drastic changes in our normal daily routines. It has changed the way we utilize our time, how we communicate with others, how often we travel and where we go, how we exercise, shop, etc. It has caused many to lose jobs while altering the way many others work within their current roles. As someone who has worked within the credit union and currently supports credit unions through a third-party agency, this observation has been very evident for this industry.
I began my career working as a teller at a credit union, then eventually moving into the Business Development department under the same company. These roles were very similar to any other person-facing position within the credit union. The general idea of my role was to talk with potential and current members, pitch banking products and services that met their needs, and in turn, gain new members and increase membership retention. The task can be quite an effort, but even more so given the circumstances caused by the pandemic. The approach credit unions used to operate under their usual structure has forced them to change the way they operate and engage with members. The usual process of conducting meetings, allowing little capacity limits of branch walk-ins, and engaging in various human-to-human interactions were all met with restrictions or eliminated due to health ordinances to avoid the spread of covid-19. The preference for face-to-face engagement with clients and partners appear more convenient through video conferencing services or simple phone calls. Various forms of technology such as online portals and banking apps on smart phone devices became even more prevalent now than before. Employees within the credit unions are working limited hours in branches or working strictly from home.
During the first few months in my new position with Aux, I began to realize how much COVID had changed the way credit unions operate. When speaking with representatives in the credit unions, I learned it was quite a balancing act for them to discover ways to serve their members while keeping them safe and abiding by state health ordinances. It was tricky work-around for many who had a large member base that relied on conducting transactions through in-person visits in the branches. I’d also wonder how much of an impact COVID had on individuals that worked in the same positions I did at the credit unions and how they’ve adjusted. It was certainly an unprecedented time for the credit unions. Many of these institutions, like many people, who had a change in normalcy, had to do their best to navigate the trenches.
But at some point, I had gathered like most things in life, with change comes opportunity. As COVID forced state regulators and leaders to implement guidelines to protect the public, the discussions of accepting this “new normal” began to emerge. Many believed that this pandemic was the opening to a change in our routines. The thought had also crossed the minds with many in the credit union industry. Maybe the way tellers engage with members and process transactions will occur through more tech-based solutions. Maybe the way sales reps that oversee outreach programs and networking opportunities will find better use in alternative platforms. Maybe back office departments in credit unions will find a shift in banking habits that require new ideas to keep credit unions running. As these new discussions came up, I realized this could change the way I talk with credit union clients on products and solutions that work for them and their members.
As cases in the state begin to decline, more credit unions and credit union supporting affiliates appear to find the best ways to get back into their usual routines pre- COVID. Just this month, the Denver Area Chapter of Credit Unions had invited Aux, along with other credit union partners, to sponsor their event at the Arrowhead Golf Club with us in attendance to table a booth. Before attending, we were notified of safety measures that were encouraged for all attendees. Facemasks and social distancing were required and the usual handshakes to greet partners were exchanged with handwaves, fist and elbow bumps. It seemed, especially with this event, as if things within the credit union world were slowly gearing back towards the life we had before. But there are some reservations as to how soon things can get back to the way they were, if they ever do, and how quickly. As I spoke with many of the patrons that visited our booth, I came to realize many are trying to reconvene into a period before the pandemic forced us to adapt to change. But some believe many of these changes are inevitably permanent because of the pandemic, and yet this change may also be for the best.
What a wild time for a career change, indeed! A special thanks to Julius for this piece.
Julius has been working in the credit union industry for nearly a decade, promoting and providing services to both members and staff. His journey in this field, as many do, began as a teller. He would eventually transition to marketing and business development as way to bring in new memberships and opportunities to the credit union, and then to recovery services to collections departments. At Aux, Julius continues to support back office departments with their compliance and accounting needs.
Julius’s experiences have allowed him to understand and appreciate the mantra of people helping people and how important credit unions are to those looking for banking solutions and alternatives. He strives to help credit unions grow and, in turn, better serve their members. Check out his LinkedIn here.