I accidentally fell into the credit union movement. I started my financial career as a teller for a commercial bank right out of high school. When my position as assistant manager was eliminated due to the Great Recession, I needed a job.
I decided to apply at the credit union that was the only place to offer me—an 18-year-old, working college student—my first auto loan: Bay Federal Credit Union in Capitola, Calif.
I didn't really know what a credit union was. I just remembered them because they were the only ones to approve my loan. I started as a teller, worked my way up to management, and then joined the marketing and education team where I taught new hire orientation, trained employees, and dove into the credit union philosophy of “people helping people.”
It was so different from the environment where I worked before. Everything the credit union movement preached proved to be true: we truly exist to help our members, collaborate instead of compete with each other, and serve our communities in ways I never imagined.
I spent almost 10 years working for a commercial bank before joining Bay Federal, but I truly wish I had been with the credit union the whole time.
I have been in the credit union industry for almost 11 years, and I can't picture myself working for any other type of organization. I am aligned with the values of the movement and truly believe we are helping people and making a real difference.
The credit union industry is so collaborative, and I have formed lifelong friendships and relationships with people across the country thanks to the movement. We make a real difference in our community by volunteering at events, raising awareness of causes, and collaborating with organizations to make our community a better place.
When I was honored to attend the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference in 2020 as a Crasher, one phrase from the Crasher session truly jumped out at me: “Find your why.”
I will never forget that, and I truly live that every day. Every day I work for Bay Federal, I find my “why,” and it truly drives me to make a difference. With the credit union industry, I have found my “why.”
We in the credit union industry have a unique ability to make a real difference in the communities we serve. Our credit union makes an incredible investment in development and training.
When I would teach new hire orientation, I would tell our new employees to take full advantage of every opportunity. This is more than just a job; it's a way to make our members' day better and make our community a better place.
When I offer career advice, I use the phrase that inspired me: “Find your why, too.”
JASON STIDHAM is communications and development manager at Bay Federal Credit Union in Capitola, Calif.