The Sunday night before our first day of training, the program held a Meet–and–Greet Happy Hour at Pearl St. which is this local brewery in Buffalo that is in a really unique building. We were in the basement part of the restaurant and had it all to ourselves, which was nice. There was an assortment of appetizer type food and the brewery’s light and dark beer on draft. Here we were able to practice Bravo’s Millionaire Match-Maker two drink maximum rule (which is not really a real rule) but if you are drinking like you are in college on Thursday Night at a corporate event you probably have a problem. This event was nice because it was just the MDPs and the two program managers, Jillian and Sarah and their boss Kate. It was really just to get to know each other, out of the office and without the pressure of being in training. Of course it is expected that you understand you are being watched and it is very important to remember that as you socialize. We are not in college anymore and how you eat, drink and socialize in and often times outside of work is being watched.
Our first day of MDP training was a lot of getting to know one another but not in the typical ice breaker kind of way, although we did participate in one or two ice breakers throughout the day. We introduced ourselves, where we were working, who our manager was, where we went to school and told an interesting fact about ourselves. The facts ranged throughout the week from tame to probably didn’t need to know that (example: someone said they could burp the alphabet and were then encouraged to demonstrate). We were given a lot of opportunities to network during the day with the speakers and connect with our peers – after all the MDP class you graduate with can be one of your biggest resources throughout your career.
During the rest of the week we were prepped for our branch rotations that we would fulfill the following month. We had speakers come in from the 1 M&T Plaza branch and we also had Corporate Security talk about fraud detection, bank robbery, online thieves and a few other topics within that spectrum. Security was certainly intimidating, hearing that bank robberies do still happen; however, not usually in the old western movie type of way. It is also better to be prepared and understand that bank robberies still happen than to be in the branch and caught off guard and panic.
We also had the traditional lectures about the company’s culture, mission, vision, how to eat in a corporate setting and how to dress in the business world which covered everything from the dos and don’ts – to what is appropriate for business casual and what is necessary to be considered business formal.
If you are a potential MDP, you may wonder if the dress code is the same across the bank. I can say that the dress code is not the same across the bank; however, as an MDP you should always lean towards the more formal end of the spectrum for your department because you will constantly be meeting someone. Jillian and Sarah presented it as, dress as if you were going to ride the elevator with Bob Wilmers, the company’s CEO. I liked that comparison and I think it put a lot of people in the mindset of how to dress for a bank.
Throughout the week we had two additional happy hours, one was another just for the MDPs which was at Bambino a local restaurant just down the street from M&T Center. It was a nice classy event except sadly it was extremely hot that day and we were all in our business clothes and the event was outside on the 2nd level porch. Had it been 10-15 degrees cooler it would have been perfect. A few of us grabbed a table inside to be able to connect in the AC rather than sweat outside.
The other Happy Hour/Networking Event took place at Shea’s Theatre. This was great because it brought all of the MDPs and their managers together. The program is not only a resource for the MDPs but also for the managers to all connect with each other. At Shea’s we were able to take a back stage tour of the theatre which was really cool because it is currently undergoing the 4th and Final stage of the restoration so the ceiling was completely tarped up as it was being clean, painted and restored. The point of these networking events is not about the food, which is hard for fresh out of college students to understand because they come from a point in their lives where free food was desired, regardless of what it was and you took it without question! My point with this is, remember you are not in college anymore and as much as you would like to treat it like your whole dinner, you should probably avoid that at all cost. The goal of the event is to network with people and make connections that can help you or someone else in their careers in and outside the bank. But I will say the food at Shea’s was probably the best of the three MDP events but the food from the Lodge (where we went for our happy hour following the first day with T&BO) was probably tied for first in the category of best place to host a happy hour, simply based on food. Atmosphere – Shea’s probably won hands down.
A major change to the program this year overall was that there would be two separate groups for MDP. I am a member of the Green Group which is led by Jillian and the other group is led by Sarah and that is the Gold Group. Both groups are going to be working on exactly the same things it will just be at different times to accommodate classroom size and allow for discussions to flow more easily through the groups. Think about it like this, in college, discussion is easier and student’s tend to learn more with a smaller class size than they do in a huge lecture hall with 100 people. The same concept is being tested with the MDP program. This first week of orientation we were all together but starting next month we will be divided based on the group we have been assigned too.
After this week, I know it is going to be a great year with this group of MDPs. I am looking forward to it and being a part of M&T. Coming up in a few weeks we have our branch rotations and I am excited to share my experience of working in the branch and learning the customer experience side of everything we work on within the corporate track of M&T!
**The opinions in this blog are strictly my own and are not endorsed by M&T.**