KOKOMO, Ind. — Mike Francois knew he wanted to work in banking, but he wasn’t sure what opportunities might be available to him in that career field.
An Indiana University Kokomo externship solidified his career plan, and helped him set a specific goal — to be a personal banker.
“I want to start as a teller during my senior year, and end up in the category of banking where you become personal to your customer, and help them manage their money,” said Francois, from Peru. “It’s a close relationship with your customer.”
He was one of six School of Business students who spent two days at 1st Source Bank in South Bend, in an externship coordinated by the Office of Career Services and the IU Kokomo Alumni Association. They were guests of Chris Craft, B.S. ’89, president and chief operating officer of the specialty finance group. Craft earned his degree at IU South Bend.
Brittany Ravas, accessibility coordinator and career counselor, was impressed that Craft and other bank presidents reviewed students’ résumés beforehand, to give them personalized business advice during their visit.
“This takes what they’re learning in the classroom and applies it in a real-world setting, so they know that what they are learning is benefitting them in the long run,” she said.
She plans to continue offering the externships each year, targeting a different school or major each time. The two-day trips are a chance for students to experience potential careers in their fields without the extended commitment of an internship.
“Our goal was to expose them to what the professional world is like, and to network with people who have come from the IU system,” she said. “They were able to see how they are using their IU degrees, what their career challenges have been and how they’ve overcome obstacles to reach their career goals.”
Francois appreciated hearing case studies detailing real situations bank leaders have faced, and talking through what they might have done in those circumstances.
“That’s when I realized what I want to do,” he said. “They help people manage their lives, and make difficult decisions. I want to have these challenges, and help people do a lot in their lives, not just deposit their money and not know them.”
Alison Atkinson, Wabash, gained insight into what employers look for in job candidates, and about opportunities available.
“I learned a lot about the type of organization and corporate culture that I would like to seek in a future place of employment,” she said. “It helped me expand my job search and become more open to employment in other areas. It also showed me how to create connections with employers.”
Olivia Alfrey, Noblesville, found it meaningful to see a fellow IU regional campus graduate succeeding in her career field.
“I think it’s important for us to see the success of other regional campus graduates so we not only understand the connection, but can create valuable networks,” she said.
Ben Liechty, director of alumni relations and campus ceremonies, said alumni also benefit from sharing their expertise with students. His goal is to work with IU Kokomo graduates for future experiences.
“It’s a great way for alumni to guide current students and teach them outside the classroom, by showing them firsthand what happens on a daily basis in a specific industry,” he said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to serve as mentors.”
Additional participating students were Ashlin Triplett, Kokomo; Haley Dietzel, Peru; and Ashley Devore, Sharpsville.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana