Hanging Out at Career Café

As you may remember from an editorial I wrote in the Leader last year, I started my career with Farm Credit as part of what the Bank of Baltimore then called its “Field Bank Representative Program.”

The idea was that the Bank hired a bunch of people at once—mostly new college graduates—then paired us up with existing Farm Credit employees so that we could learn the ropes.

It was kind of like teaching someone to swim by throwing them in the water (even if there was a life guard present to save us!) The program might have been frightening at times to a new employee, but it was effective. We all quickly learned what made Farm Credit tick, and what our role was in keeping that ticking going.

After a few months of that hands-on training, we were deployed out to any association with an opening for a loan officer. And that’s when we realized how important our training had been.

Training can make the difference between being good at your job and liking it, and being great at your job and loving it.

That’s why I’m so excited about our new Career Café.

Like a lot of our employees, I just got a glimpse of this new tool. Our training administrator Sharmequa was nice enough to give our senior management team an overview of the Career Café website. I was pretty impressed with some of the bells and whistles that Sharmequa has added to the site—the animation, for instance, is very slick, and the whole site seems user friendly (which is important to me!)

But after the bells and whistles wore off, it dawned on me how helpful this tool will be.

A couple of years ago, we initiated an IDP, or individual development plan, for each of our employees. That was a great first step, but it wasn’t easy for you to see what training was available for you to take, or what you had already taken.

Career Café will let you do that. You can see at a glance all of the courses available—face-to-face courses, Centra seminars, and off-site training opportunities. Finally, all of our training notes will be in one place—so if someone takes a training offered by the Bank (like the ones being planned now for our new AccountAccess program), or by the System (like those of us enrolled in the Leadership Development Program), or even by your own department, all of that information will be collected in one place.

This way, employees can talk to their supervisor about training that they’ve taken (all of it), and figure out what additional training will help them meet their career goals.
I’m also happy because I think that this tool will help us train new employees more efficiently and more completely than we’ve done in the past (and, since we had two retirements just last week, that will be a continuing priority for us!) As I said earlier, I know how overwhelming it can be to be dropped into a new position—having this training at your fingertips will make that adjustment easier and (hopefully) quicker.

Speaking of adjustments, I may be making some adjustments of my own. As I looked at the Career Café website, I noticed a couple of topics that I could use a refresher on. I’m already planning to take a couple of these…because I know that training will make me better at my job, too!

Hopefully, I’ll see you in the Café sometime in the next few weeks!


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