I was talking to a friend who recently finished getting her Masters degree in business education. She was telling me how discouraged she is because she's been looking for a job for six months to teach at the high school level and has yet to come up with anything promising. One of the first things I thought of after she said this was that she'd be perfect to work on a financial literacy team at a credit union. She has the training and education to teach members and potential members that are at a crucial age and she is a member of Gen Y.
When I suggested that she look into seeing if any credit unions are hiring for this type of position, she said she wasn't aware that credit unions did that type or work nor had her college mentioned it as an option for a job. My friend lives and went to college in Long Island, N.Y. where I know there are a substantial amount of credit unions, some of them large-sized credit unions.
In this economy, credit unions have taken some big steps forward in educating consumers and spreading awareness, but this is an example of how credit unions are still losing out on great opportunities due to the huge lack of awareness that is still out there.
Last year, I went to a business journalism seminar at CUNY School of Journalism in New York City. One of the discussions was, of course, the current economy. One journalist brought up the topic of financial literacy and how it doesn't seem that any banks out there contribute to education. I told him how this is a big part of the credit union mission and how I see credit unions that contribute to financial literacy everyday. I was the only one in the room that knew credit unions push financial literacy and the only one in the room that really knew anything about credit unions at all.
I know credit unions play a huge role in educating members and consumers about good financial practices. Does the staff reporter at your local paper? Do the administrators at your local high school or college? Do your potential members?
If there is one thing credit unions should be shouting from the rooftop right now it is that you not only provide services, but you educate. Don't just tell each other. Make sure the people that need it know and make sure the potential employees that you need to not only educate and bring in new younger members, but to bring energy and innovation to your aging staff know it too.