Tell Your Story
August 5, 2019
By Jodi Allen, ICUL Member Services Consultant
I can’t tell you the exact date, but I know that it was some time in the summer of 2006. I remember being newly married. I remember that we had just moved to a new town. I remember walking together on a beautiful trail. And I remember feeling so lost.
No, I wasn’t literally lost. I was lost with what to do with my career path, and I was sharing my thoughts and feelings with my new husband. Why was I feeling so lost? I was not going to fulfill my dream of being a teacher. While I don’t recall all the details of our conversation, I remember the emotion. I was sad, I felt like a failure, and I was scared because I had no idea what I was going to do for a job, let alone a long-term career. What was hardest for me was that I felt like I was letting so many people down – my teachers, my professors, my mentors, my fellow classmates, and my parents. They had all been so supportive of me fulfilling my dream.
As I look back on it now, it seems like a small problem. But at that time, it seemed huge. For as long as I could remember, I had wanted to be a teacher. I dedicated most of my work experience and volunteer experience to working with children. I babysat, nannied, worked in daycares, tutored, volunteered in classrooms, etc. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in elementary education, and I did everything that I could to set myself up for success. And after just one year of teaching, I decided that it wasn’t going to be the right career path for me. Even though I was feeling lost, I knew that I had to move forward with what was best for me.
Later in 2006, I was hired as a teller at a bank. I am still thankful for the people who took a chance on hiring me because it was my start in the financial services industry. In 2008, my husband unintentionally found a job posting for a trainer at a credit union, and he shared it with me. I was happy as a teller, I wasn’t looking for jobs, and I honestly didn’t know what a credit union was. But with some further research, I decided to apply. After interviewing and accepting the job, I felt like things were starting to come together. I was able to use my background in education and my experience as a teller to be a trainer, and I will forever be grateful to those who hired me at the credit union. It changed my life. I found a love for training, then eventually Human Resources (HR), and most importantly…a love for credit unions!
Fast forward to 2014. Some more key people in my life hired me at AMC (Thank you!), and I continued my work in HR. While working in HR, I learned so much about the various positions in the credit union industry, and I especially loved hiring others who were so passionate about contributing to the financial well-being of consumers through credit unions. Last year, I accepted this position as a Member Services Consultant with ICUL, and I am super grateful for my current role. I get to work with amazing credit union employees all across the state of Iowa. I especially love my work with those in our Emerging Leaders Connection (ELC) community. Their excitement and passion for helping their membership is incredible, and their enthusiasm inspires me to be the best that I can be.
Now more than ever, I can look back at each of my experiences and say that they contributed to who I am today. It’s a good feeling. If I could go back to that walk in 2006, I would tell myself to focus more on the present moments instead of feeling bad about my past or worrying about my future. I can now say that I don’t regret my early work experience and pursuing my elementary education degree. I learned a lot, and I still use some of this is in my personal and professional life today. Since I love children, you will find me volunteering to work with kids at the school, the church, and in the community. It fills my bucket. I can now say that I will never regret my early work experience as a teller at a bank either. I loved being a teller. I also learned so much about financial products and services, good customer service skills, and how to sell (only if it was best for the customer, of course!). I also saw firsthand how many people are struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis. Many situations broke my heart, and I felt like there had to be something that could be done to help others in the community. This led to my passion for financial education. Then once I started at the credit union in 2008, I found an industry that really is helping those in their communities. They look at their members as people and not a profit. And they are there to help. It’s all about “People Helping People.”
What is your story? I encourage you to look back on your professional experiences up to this point. What have they taught you? How are they making you successful today? Be thankful for those opportunities. I also encourage you to take a good look at your present job. Appreciate it. Know that it is teaching you something and do your best! From there, look ahead at who you want to be and set goals for yourself. But don’t feel bad about anything that happened in the past, and don’t worry too much about the future. Otherwise, you will feel lost like I did. Remind yourself that you are right where you’re supposed to be.
Jodi Allen is a Member Services Manager for the Iowa Credit Union League. Jodi leads the ICUL's emerging leaders initiatives and activities, and supports credit union employee development.