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USF Federal Credit Union invests in students’ future after remodel

The USF Federal Credit Union reopened recently in the Marshall Student Center and is scheduled to be run exclusively by students in the future via a partnership with the College of Business. ORACLE PHOTO/ADAM MATHIEU

Compound interest isn’t the only thing being gained at the newly reopened USF Federal Credit Union (FCU) located in the Marshall Student Center. 

Last week the renovated credit union was revealed to members and investors for the first time since the project began. The cosmopolitan design of the location was implemented in order to get away from the teller lines of traditional banks. 

“Our goal in this facility was actually to have that open-office concept and the idea is to encourage a higher level of dialogue between staff and credit union members — to have that experience like an Apple Store,” said FCU Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Clark. 

The MSC facility is one of five locations in the Tampa Bay Area that service over 48,000 members and control about $500 million in assets. The renovations were done to physically open the location up to customers and to allow a new partnership between the credit union and the Muma College of Business.  

The program is unique in that the eventual goal is to have the credit union fully operated by the students. 

“First of all, it’s far more than an internship,” said Jackie Nelson, senior director of undergraduate programs for the Muma College of Business. “What we’re doing is putting together an academy … between the Muma College of Business and the USF Credit Union whereby four of our students will begin every year.”

Nelson said each student accepted into the program will be engaged for three years in a paid position within the credit union. After their first year of working as a teller, the student will have a decision to work with a mentor in a section of the union. 

The sections include: accounting, finance, marketing or management depending on the student’s area of interest. The program is only available to freshmen and accepted candidates will begin working in their sophomore year. 

Of the 15 applicants, six were hired this summer to begin working in September. Eventually the number of workers will increase to 12 once those students reach their senior year. At that point, the credit union will be fully operated by the employed students. 

“They will be learning every part of the business over the next three years,” Nelson said. “It’s a three-year commitment basically — that’s what we would like to see the students do.”

Nelson said not every student can be hired after graduation but that the focus of the program is to provide training and skills that would not otherwise be available. The second year of the program includes a paid internship in the field of their choice.

“When they do their internship they’ll work closely — very closely at that point in time — with someone from one of those areas within the credit union,” Nelson said. “After they finish their internship, they will be the ones that will mentor that next semester — their last semester senior year — they will help some of the newbies.”

The pool of candidates springs from 105 students within the Bulls Business Community, one of the living learning communities at USF. According to Nelson, the freshmen within that group are the ones who were given the opportunity to apply. 

“Students expect a return on their b-school investment — largely measured by their ability to find a job,” said USF Muma College of Business Dean Moez Limayem in a press release issued by the college.

Limayem quoted a study from market research firm Millennial Branding that 52 percent of students surveyed said their university lacks access to paid internships and 43 percent noted a lack of qualified mentors to help them.

“They conclude their degree program provides the technical training required to do the job, but they also need internships to help develop real-world skills and mentors to help make the connections needed to get the interview,” Limayem said. “This program will help them do that.”