Connex Credit Union, a $376.9 million credit union in North Haven, Conn. is generating chatter among local young adults through a special marketing internship position for college students: the vice president of unbanking. This year, Lauren Dufour, a senior and public relations major at Quinnipac University in Hamden, Conn. will take on the role that aims to court Gen Y with grass-roots marketing efforts.
Connex CU and the Bethany, Conn.-based marketing communications firm Mason Inc. jointly launched the vice president of unbanking internship program in the fall of 2010 to help support young membership growth, said Derek Beere, new media manager for Mason Inc. and the manager of Connex CU’s public relations and social media activities. Quinnipac University senior Erin King was the credit union’s first vice president of unbanking. Last year, it was University of New Haven senior Chris Whalen.
“The overall goal was to find a real voice for the credit union that would further elevate its unbank brand to a younger audience, with an emphasis on college students but also to continue positioning Connex as a better choice than traditional banks and create awareness in the local marketplace,” Beere said.
Beere said Connex CU and Mason Inc. determined the ideal program candidate would be a college student, which led the two organizations to design it as a school year internship. To find potential interns, they worked with internship coordinators and marketing departments at local universities, posted a listing on school job boards and distributed posters and flyers in campus coffee shops, student centers and career centers. They also advertised the internship program’s financial incentive: a $5,000 stipend.
The unusual, authoritative internship title intends to catch the attention of potential candidates and perhaps make former participants’ resumes stand out during their job searches, Beere said.
“As we were developing the program, we purposely created a very official, powerful title that was over the top, memorable and unique,” he said. “It may help break through the clutter and land them a job.”
He said Dufour stood out from other candidates this year for her overall enthusiasm.
“She’s bright, social and has an understanding of what makes credit unions different,” Beere said.
Dufour, a native of New Haven, said she was attracted to the opportunity because it offered her a chance to share and implement her own ideas in Connex CU’s marketing department in addition to handling tasks such as managing the credit union’s social media programs and content.
She said she has not been a credit union member herself, but is drawn to Connex CU’s focus on member satisfaction and community-based philosophy. As part of the internship, to which she’ll devote approximately 16 hours per week throughout the school year, she’ll organize events, reach out to local colleges and young professional organizations, and create marketing videos to help spread the word about credit unions to college students and other young adults.
Dufour said she hopes to solidify relationships with young adults for Connex CU and gain an increased understanding of how credit unions work throughout the school year.
“I’d like to get some successful events launched and make a strong connection with young adults,” Dufour said. “I think the fact that I’m reaching out to people my own age will make them feel more comfortable.”
Beere added that Connex CU’s vice president of unbanking role helps inject fresh ideas into the credit union’s marketing department.
“We wanted to ensure that the VP of unbanking was an integrated member of the marketing department and that they could bring their own ideas on how to best reach a younger audience,” he said. “We feel that having someone who is a college student offers a fresh perspective on what really works and how we can best reach this demographic.”
Connex CU uses the term “unbank” throughout its marketing language, such as with the Unbank Checking product.