The Recruiting Game

recruitmentIt is funny as you go through life – you find yourself looking at the recruiting game from all different angles.  When you are getting recruited for college or to play for a sports team, when you are looking for your first job or you are a seasoned professional and you are getting head hunted by an executive recruiter – it is all the same game with slight tweaks.  I look at it like learning the game of basketball.  I started off in 5th/6th grade with my elementary school team, moved on to 7th grade basketball, JV in 8th grade, Varsity for all of High School, and then 4 years at RIT and college basketball. It is all the same game but you get better at it as you go along, this can apply to a employee or a recruiter depending on who you want to be in this scenario.

As a recruiter at career fairs for the newest professionals in the workforce it is a lot of explaining, sharing what M&T is like, what some of the day to day responsibilities look like for positions in the MDP program, talking to different managers about the candidates I saw at the career fair and working directly with HR to make sure we bring in the right candidates for the job.  It is not only about sharing the on-the-job responsibilities but also the cultural aspects: what Buffalo is like, what is like to be young moving to a new city, etc. You have to treat this candidate differently because typically they have never been through this process before and I am responsible for their first perception of the company.

This part is exciting because you are sharing your passion for your career and your job with the students and helping them determine if they would be a fit or not.  You may not always get the candidate but you know that hopefully they have made the best choice for them.  I think this is where my coaching experience comes into play because I want what is best for my players, just like I want new career professionals to enjoy their first job, to find what they are passionate about and not just go for a salary. I will talk more about sharing my experience and the getting to know the candidate in the next post in the series surrounding interviewing, stay tuned!

MDP Graduation

It’sgraduation hard to think that just last week was MDP graduation.  It was the last time that all of us would be together as one group, as MDPs.  It seems funny that less than a year ago, the 40 of us in the green group and the other 40 in the gold group did not know each other.  At this time last year we were all thinking about enjoying the last few weeks of the summer before our real world journey began.

Graduation week was fun with happy hour events, a boat cruise, a capstone project, final thoughts, and a conversation with Mark Czarnecki, the President of M&T and the COO.  Now, I know what you must be thinking when I say graduation and no there were no cap and gown or diplomas; however we did receive our 1 year anniversary gifts and a class picture which we had taken the first week.

Most people aren’t as lucky as I was to be able to learn about a great company, make instant friends because of a common experience being in the program, and have a true hands on experience on the job that never once felt like an internship which often times programs can.  If I had to go back and do it over, I would do it again in a heart beat.  I am one of the lucky ones of my friends from college, who love what they do.  Who enjoy going to work every day and has found something I am passionate about.  So I encourage you to consider M&T’s MDP program or another development program if you feel that it is right for you.  Never take a job because someone else says its good or someone tells you to do it. Take a job because it scares you, take a job because it makes you nervous, often times those are the best experiences.  But hey, I have only been in the working world for a year so what do I know.M&T Plaza

With MDP now over and for those of you who have followed this blog over the course of my first year in the real world, you must be thinking what next? Well, I will work as a Business and Planning Analyst in the Innovation Center of Excellence.  It is an exciting time for banking and don’t worry my blogging doesn’t stop just because the program is over.  No way!  I am in the real world to stay and this is just the beginning of my journey in Corporate America. I have ambition and big dreams which I intend to make a reality.

Are you Self Aware?

This past training session for MDP we spent two days going through Precision Leadership and Emotional Intelligence.  Some of us have also been going through Transformational Leadership every Friday of training but that is for another post.  The training sessions focused on hands on examples surrounding  leadership and understanding one style that the bank follows but also understanding your own personal self awareness and emotional intelligence.

So let’s talk about what the difference between all of these tools are and how you may apply them to your career:

steps to being a leaderPrecision Leadership

This form of leadership is supported very highly at the bank by our Chief Risk Officer, Rich Gold.  To me what I took away from the course was that you need to focus on giving objective feedback as a manager.  If you are constantly saying subjective things to a report or a peer who’s interpretation is right?

Let me give you an example.  If someone, age 22, fresh out of college says, I am going to be a little late to work today to their manager in an email, what does that actually mean?  How much is a little late?  The manager may think 5-10 minutes; however, that 22 year may think an hour is a little late to work.  Precision Leadership focuses on removing the subjectivity out of a statement and putting terms into more concrete understandings.

Not only does Precision Leadership work on removing the subjectivity from a statement but it also challenges the manager to put themselves into the other person’s shoes.  There is typically a positive feeling, emotion or reaction the person is feeling for doing something regardless of if we can see it or not.

Another example that was given during the course was, a manager does not understand why someone repeatedly turns work in late or comes in late to meetings.  They may see this as a negative but what are the positive feelings that employee is getting that is causing them to continuously be late to work?

below- the-surface-lies-emotional-intelligenceEmotional Intelligence

Did you know that your EI and IQ are like an iceberg? One lies above the surface and others can judge it but the majority falls below the surface and only you know its there until you show it.

It is really easy to think you know everything about yourself.  But when you think about it, the way you perceive yourself may be different from how others see you and what way do you want to appear to others?  I said above the majority of emotional intelligence lies below the surface where only you know its there but that does not stop others from judging it.

The Emotional Intelligence course was great because we had taken the self awareness “test” prior to the class so we received our actual results at the end of the course and were able to apply what we learned throughout the day regarding each category into how aware we really are.

Do you have emotional intelligenceTo me your self awareness should align with how others perceive you and if they aren’t which is more important.  When you consider this concept, you have to think about it honestly.  There is no right or wrong answer but in the real world (my personal opinion) is that how others perceive you is more important that your own self perception.  In the real world, especially starting out your young career, people are not going to want to help  you if they don’t like you or they see behaviors that they don’t appreciate.  No one is perfect but emotional intelligence and leadership can all be improved upon it just takes time and self-awareness.

Next up my experience with Transformation Leadership, you aren’t going to want to miss this.

Group Project: Do You Have the Skills?

Learning to work in teams is a huge part of the MDP program.  Not every department in the bank functions in project teams; however, at some point in your career you will have to work on a team.  As an MDP you are given a five month long project to work on with your team that is supposed to help you develop group fundamentals.  To me the idea of this task was just par for the course as I had been working on teams since Day 1 of RIT with the Business 1, 2, 3 program. Group Projects

But what I wasn’t aware of going into MDP but I probably should have been was how different everyone in the program’s project experiences were. At RIT, you work hands on with real world clients. RIT does not believe that you should work with hypothetical scenarios when there are so many real world situations that the course concepts could be applied too.  Big shout out to RIT for preparing me for how projects actually function – that is one thing that if you are looking at colleges to think about – how does the school prepare me for the real world?

Working in project teams is a skill that most people do not think about or at least most people coming out of college. Most young people feel that project management and working on a team is easy but when it comes down to it – it is not always sunshine and rainbows.  It can be quite challenging when different backgrounds, different skill sets, different personalities all come to work on a common problem.  Sometimes there is perfect chemistry and other times there are group dynamics that just do not work well together.

At RIT I experienced all of these scenarios in both the educational setting and with athletics, work and clubs.  It happens all over the world.  But being able to understand to adjust on the fly when things are not going perfectly is what makes you stronger.  It is important to remember that not everything is going to go perfectly but how you react when things go wrong or you make a mistake is how you grow.  It is instilled in us from Day 1 as MDPs that mistakes are what you learn the most from.  group-dynamicsA team that never experiences trials or tribulations will probably not have as good of a learning experience as those that went through the five stages of a group project: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. I think often times we think this process of group project stages is more of a waterfall style; however, to me it is definitely more agile.  You can cycle through Storming, Norming and Performing multiple times before the conclusion of the project and I think that it is important to remember that is normal.

Stay tuned as I will be sure to talk about what stage my project is currently in for MDP and the MDP project experience.

Walking That Swagger Line

My boss made a great point the other day in our meeting where he challenged me to figure out my end goal.  He said, deserve before you desire.

Now you may be thinking, what does that mean and if you are a potential MDP for M&T I would take notes.  What he meant by that statement which was advice given to him by his father is that you should deserve something before you want it.

setting goalsThroughout M&T, the MDP program has a mixed message and people share mixed feelings about the program and it is very apparent to the MDP class.  There are some employees who love the program, there are a lot alumni of the program within the bank that remember going through it, there are employees who do not like the idea of the program and try to hide it and then there are employees who do not like the program and will let you know it.  Now I do not say that to intimidate you.  The point of me saying this is because as an MDP you are exposed to the entire bank, you are visible and you have opportunities that some employees will never get.  That is a huge advantage of the program, you are being groomed for management at a much faster pace than others.  Now when I say that, you may be in a program where you are expected to move-up quicker in the bank but nothing is handed to you.  This is where the phrase, “deserve before you desire” comes into play.

Just any company with a rotational program, there are employees who have had a great experience with their past MDPs and there are others who have not had as pleasant of an experience.  It is important to recognize that there is a trend which has shown there are two kinds of MDPs, the Entitled MDP and the Grinder MDP.  MDP is a title but more so it is a privilege, it does not make someone better than the rest but it does mean you are watched closely and people know who you are.  There are expectations of you to be good but you cannot just assume that you are good.

I learned a long time ago that there is a fine line between cocky and confident and you have to always walk that line in a professional manner.   When I was being recruited for college basketball, my future coach at RIT really loved that I walked this line and balanced on it very well.  Every once in a while she would notice that I was slipping towards appearing cocky but loved it because I knew how to pull myself back.  It was not always easy and it was not something that I always noticed but more so it was part of my personality.

courtney tennantI had had a really good freshman campaign but by the end of it I was demotivated, we were not winning, we lacked leadership and there was drama within the team.  I had never been a part of that kind of culture so I did not know how to react and I began shutting down.  I was border-line depressed and everyone around me knew it.  My “swagger” was gone and I did not know how to get it back.  Going into my sophomore year I had a few health issues that set me back even further in my goals for my playing career which made it hard to try and recover that ability to walk the line.  I can honestly say, I do not know if I ever walked that line in my playing career as confidently as I did my freshman year.  People can say there is more pressure as you progress through the year but for me I don’t think that was ever it, I think the problem really happened when people saw “my swagger” as a threat to them, though it was never meant to come off that way.  I tell this story because I would never want someone to lose that fire, that swag, that desire or passion because of what other people say.

I made a vow to myself that I would never let someone’s personal opinions, jealousy or all around negativity knock me down again.  I am in total control of myself and the progress or lack thereof that I have and that took a long time for me to realize – maybe it is called growing up but I know that I am always going to be a grinder.

but in the end the journey is the destinationBringing it back to what my boss said, I am determined to have goals but I am also determined to work as hard as I can so that when I deserve to reach those goals it is a natural progression.  Those who feel that they are entitled to a promotion because of a title they are given are wasting their time because they will never earn the title or respect of their peers or co-workers.  I strongly urge future MDPs to be mindful of falling into the entitled trap.  Even if you feel that your experience or degree(s) state that you are doing something you are over-qualified to do.  Do things right, follow-thru, make connections and jump at every opportunity and you will have a much more successful time at M&T and in your overall career than if you are entitledeven being in the program for a little over a month now, I have seen this.  I have already begun to see that M&T gives you opportunities by cracking the door open but you still need to open it and walk-thru.   

**The opinion’s expressed in this blog are strictly my own and are not endorsed by M&T.**

80 People…1 Situation

I will not lie the first meeting of all 80 MDPs was a little hectic and overwhelming.  When you are meeting so many new people that DAY 1 can be a bit of an information overload; however, when you spend a forty hour work week in one room with those 79 people you get to know them pretty quickly.  What I am really starting to love about this program is the fact that I have 79 other people that are in the exactly same situation as me.  Starting a new job, new experience and have just graduated college.  mdpIt is an experience but boy is it fun.

I was talking the other day to a few people about the program and the concept of a Management Development Program (MDP) and also the concept of a rotational program.  At the point I am at now in my life, I am confident that I made the right choice choosing to be a part of a program for the first year of my career. Unlike like so many other programs as mention in (insert older blog), MDP is unique because it does not feel like an internship.  This is a huge positive but can seem intimidating when you have to leave work for a week to go to an off-site training.  It is important to remember that as an employee of the bank you are hired for a role and your manager expect that you are going to get your work done.  Now I do not want to steer people away from looking into the program because I think this offers recent college graduates the best of both worlds and lets be real if you had any type of college experience you will not find it hard to balance your work life with your training schedule.  Sure there may be days you return to the office after training or you take work home with you but that is a part of the work life and can only help you.  To me the program is not much different from balancing the different dynamics of my college life.  In my graduate year I managed a full-time grad course load, had all the responsibilities of basketball and had to make sure I could complete my job as the Athletics Marketing grad.  Life is all about finding balance.  Reading this now, I suggest to any rising college senior you start practicing this key skill now.  Learning to balance studying, homework, health and fitness and having a social life, because yes that is an important element to mental health, is crucial and the sooner you learn the easier it will be to adapt to it in the real world.

TrainingProgramsWhat I love about M&T’s program is that those 79 people are all very similar in the sense that they are all smart individuals coming from great educational backgrounds but we are all very diverse just like if I walked onto a college campus such as RIT.  Those unique personalities form a really interesting and collaborative group that is going to help the bank grow and evolve.  Not only does the program afford you the opportunity to work with those 79 individuals but it also allows you to get to know those people.  It gives you the opportunity to connect and form bonds with people.  M&T helps create a social circle for you without you having to join a club or find a rec team to play on.  It gives you that initial jump on being able to explore the city with people.  Think about it this way, when you head off to college you are surrounded by hundreds of thousands of students (depending on the school) who just want to make friends, be social and do things – this is very similar, except you have to remember you are going to be working with these people into the foreseeable future and seeing them at least once a month for the next year.

So, if you are still reading you are probably considering being a part of a rotational program…maybe even MDP.  I would love to hear your thoughts about programs and will entertain any questions.  I am not a recruiter for M&T and I am not a marketing person at M&T, I am simply a girl with a blog who loves to share her life and what is going on in it.  But I am also someone who very recently went through the job search process, went through the interview process and is more than willing to help or share my experience.

**The opinion’s expressed in this blog are strictly my own and are in no way endorsed by M&T.**

WHEWWWW – What a First Week of MDP Training!

The Sunday night before our first day of training, the program held a MeetandGreet 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.  meeting new peopleThere 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. networking happy hour

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.networking events

 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.**

Hello Real World…Here I Am

M&T MDPSo after all the waiting and anticipation of starting on the job, the first day is in the books! I can not believe that I can now consider myself a working girl.  All that hard work, time and effort put in all the books, test and presentations became all worth it on Monday, July 14th.

The first day started off in what seemed like a normal on-boarding for a new employee at a company.  M&T brought all the new T&BO (Technology and Banking Operations) MDPs (Management Development Program) together for an all-day orientation.  It was great because it was an opportunity to meet the other MDPs in our “bucket”.  When I say bucket I mean all of the MDPs who fall under a specific Executive Vice-President.  In my case it is Michele Trolli.  The 13 T&BO MDPs had the opportunity to sit down with Michele and be introduced to the bank from her perspective.  It was a rare opportunity that not many get and I was very excited to get to hear the only woman on the Management Group at the bank speak and be in charge of my department.

I want to note that I think woman in business and leadership roles are becoming more and more acceptable and common in today’s society.  When I walk into the office and even when I walked into a classroom at RIT (a school dominated by males), I never felt that I had to be quiet simply because I was a female.  I believe that your actions and your work speak louder than what gender you are.  I loved reading the book “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg and was excited to hear that M&T has Lean In circles within the organization and I am looking forward to joining after getting settled.  But the female topic seems to be a topic that often gets discussed and I wanted to make sure I got Michele’s take on it but I wasn’t sure how to phrase it.  I think she knew what I was preparing to ask when I raised my hand because she said something along the lines of don’t be afraid to just say it, if we fear what we are saying or make it seem like a hard subject people won’t get over it and move past it.   I thought that was great and instantly I knew, Michele would be someone who I would strive to learn from and look up to at the bank.

women in business

What was interesting was being able to hear her talk about her direct reports and her experience coming into the bank.  She was not afraid to tell an embarrassing story or be real because as I was beginning to understand, that was M&T’s culture, real people doing real work.  Michelle is one of the “young ones” on the M&T Management Group and she has been with the bank for ten years – that is another part of the culture at M&T the average tenure is 10.4 years currently and you are still considered “new” if you have not been with the company for more than twenty years.

The next group of speakers brought in were the Senior Vice Presidents of T&BO, my SVP is Julieta Ross who recently joined the M&T team after a long career at Citi.  It was great to see that in a business with such long tenure the company understands outside perspectives are often necessary to keep moving forward and growing.  It was so nice to be able to begin to understand the structure at the bank as it pertained to our “bucket” and then begin to put the bigger picture together.  I thought it was great of T&BO to focus on its own sector rather than overwhelm us with the entire bank and its operations on the first day.

The rest of the day was focused on learning about the bank’s values, mission and culture.  It is impossible to understand a culture without actually experiencing it.  But for all the MDPs and most of M&T’s employees you are taken through countless interviews (I went through 12) so you meet a lot of people along the way and begin to see similarities (at least with M&T) among those employees and can pick up on the qualities that make up the majority of the company’s employees.  One common characteristic at M&T is that everyone seems genuinely invested in helping you and maybe that is just for the MDPs (I cannot speak for the traditional recruitment, hiring, on-boarding or career) but so far, everyone I have come in contact with has extended warm welcomes, well wishes and offered to assist in any way that they can.  M&T is invested in their future.working world

Learning about the culture it was great to see that M&T’s vision statement is a Be the Best statement.   “Be the best place our employees ever work for, the best bank our customers ever bank with and the best investment our shareholders ever make.”  That says something because if you are a happy employee your productivity is better meaning that customers are better cared for and have higher quality experiences within the branches or online.  As for the shareholders, a large portion of employees of the bank are shareholders and have a financial investment in the company; as well as it being their place of employment.

The day wrapped up with a Happy Hour at the Lodge with our SVPs.  This was very nice because we got to have 1-on-1 time with the leaders of our department.  It is important to remember when going to a company Happy Hour you are there to network and talk with people, not to eat or drink.  It was nice to talk over a glass of wine with Julieta and hear her vision for the department and the future of M&T’s technology.  She was another person who I was instantly excited to be given the chance to work under and learn from.  She seemed genuinely excited about having me join the team and was ready to help me with my future in the department and the company.  I was beginning to see that most people were excited about the new prospects and talent pool in the bank.

 I think that this is going to be a great opportunity to grow a career with the bank and I am excited to see what the future holds!

***This blog post is in no way endorsed by M&T Bank, the opinions expressed in this post are strictly my own.***

I am Raising the Green Flag

I want to officially announce that I have accepted a position with M&T as part of their MDP program for the 2014-15 year.  I will be starting July 14th in Buffalo and the program will run through the end of June 2015.  So be ready because I will be blogging all through out the year about the program and my experience during my first year of full-time employment.

my new career

I have known for a little over two months about the employment opportunity but I wanted to grow comfortable with the idea of the job myself and let my immediate family members know before going public with the opportunity that I have.  The recruitment process was not an easy one for me (12 interviews later, I got the job – blog post to follow); however, I am extremely grateful to be graduating in May with a full-time job unlike many of my peers I graduated high school with but I thank RIT’s preparation and my hard work over the last four years and the great support system I have had.

The program I have been accepted into is called the Management Development Program (MDP) and involves building skills that will be needed for future leaders in the business world.  As part of the program, all MDPs are part of their own department and hired into a role within a specific department.  They are also part of the MDP program which involves 10 weeks of management training.  My on the job training will be in the Central Technology Division at M&T working with the online and mobile banking.

raise the green flag

I am very excited for this opportunity as it will give me the chance to use my project management skills, MIS skills acquired in my MBA program and my online marketing knowledge from my BS degree in New Media Marketing.

I am excited to work for a constantly expanding company and even though, I could never have imagined myself in banking before applying – I am excited about the opportunity that I have with the MDP program at M&T.

I am also very excited to share my experience with you over the next year starting with the preparations I make before I start this new journey and next stage of my life!