Year Graduated: May 2013
Company: Capital Good Fund (CGF)
AC: How did you find your fellowship?
MC: I came across the Fellowship position through The Amica Center for Career Education website. I used the website on a daily basis to browse through jobs/internship opportunities and the CGF job description caught my interest, so I decided to apply. The application process was done through their website and it was a little different than the other applications I previously filled. The questions were more directed towards discovering what type of person you are; whereas, I felt the other applications were focused on sizing up a person’s ability to produce based off of qualitative facts.
AC: What at Bryant helped you in preparing for this?
MC: Bryant played a pivotal role in preparing me for this position. Without my Bryant education, I would not have been able to perform as well as I did or have the confidence to deliver what was asked of me. Most of my time working at CGF was spent working with clients one-to-one discussing their personal finances. I was responsible for coaching and assisting my clients with a broad range of financial challenges. For example, I would create personal budget reports, pull their credit score and explain to them what it meant. Then I would discuss credit cards-how they worked, the advantages and disadvantages of owning one, ways to save money, insurance, etc.
CGF required us to go through a weekend training program in which they would teach us the basis of what was expected from us, but our training session focused more on the coaching aspects rather than the financial knowledge that was needed.
AC: What was the most challenging and what was the easiest?
MC: The most challenging was staying on top of everything and managing each client. I was given a very broad spectrum of clients. On one hand I had clients who were living on SSI income, never opened a bank account before, or was in a deep hole with debt. On the other hand I had clients who worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield RI making a decent salary but still struggling because they were spending so much money that they lived on a week to week budget. I also had a client who owned her own company and had amazing entrepreneurship abilities, but had difficulties organizing her finances. Each person had a unique situation; therefore what may have worked for one person didn’t always work for the next.
To describe a part of the job as the ‘easiest’ is a little misleading, since, I personally felt, there was nothing ‘easy’ about the job, but if I had to pick, the easiest part was getting to know the clients throughout the first meeting. Before going further, let me say, the first 10 -30 minutes during the first session with my clients were the most nerve-wracking for me. I was not nervous about meeting a new person, but nervous in the sense that I would not be able to help them or that I was wasting their time. This is more because of my personality than anything else, but as our meeting went on, getting to know the person, their financial situation, and what advice they were seeking became an enjoyable process.
AC: How does a fellowship differ from a typical job? What is similar?
MC: I personally felt the fellowship differed extremely from a typical job. To start, CGF is a non-profit organization with lending abilities, and is comprised of 10-15 full time employees with the rest being interns from nearby universities. The work culture was laid back-we dressed in jeans, shoes, and shirts…not business apparel but everyone working there was always driven and motivated to make a change for the better in the lives of others.
AC: What were your day to day duties or activities?
MC: I didn’t really have a daily routine to follow. On days that I had a client, I started my preparations the day before by giving them a call to remind them that they had scheduled a coaching session with a CGF fellow. A few times I was scheduled to meet with a client and they would forget to show up. This was one of the more frustrating aspects of the job. After confirming they could meet with me, I would use the resource’s that CGF provided me with and tried to dig up as much background information about the person I was meeting so I could be more prepared to coach and help them. Most of my meetings took place at the CGF office with the exception of BCBS (Blue Cross Blue Shield) clients, who I would meet in the BCBS building, and I would show up 15-30 minutes early to prepare. I would meet with each client three times over the course of the month and depending on how busy CGF was, I would have anywhere between 1-3 clients a week. After our meetings, I would assign my clients homework, such as writing down all their expenses or looking up specific information about their bank accounts, and any questions they had for me which I could not answer during our meeting was my homework to have completed for the next time we would meet.
AC: What is one piece of advice you could give Bryant seniors for their last year?
MC: Enjoy the year; it goes by faster than you’ll ever comprehend and towards the end of the year, if you are still confused as to what you want to do with your life after you graduate, don’t worry because you’re not alone. Also, get on the job hunt soon as possible. Don’t wait and assume that you’ll easily find a job upon graduating.