What I’ve Learned as an Intern at CUNA

This entry was posted by Monday, 26 July, 2010
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Kate Neuens

From Kate Neuens:

When I walked in for my first interview for an editorial internship at CUNA I was asked what I knew about credit unions.

I sat, completely unsure of what to say. I managed to offer, “Well, I belong to a credit union.” I had no idea that credit unions are not-for-profit, cooperatives, and have a D.C. location where they work hard to protect credit union members. I also didn’t realize I had not answered the question that well (it was my first professional interview, so cut me some slack!).

I did not receive the internship at CUNA, but then I received a call a few months later that another internship was open and that I was welcome to interview. Alas, I did not receive that internship as well. I had lost all hope of working at CUNA when I got a call on my first day back to class during my junior year at UW-Madison. I was offered an internship in the Center for Personal Finance working with Googolplex and I’ve been here ever since!

When I started this internship I figured I would just read and edit stories, do my job well, but not become engrossed in the CUNA and credit union system. Well, that didn’t happen. It’s impossible to work here and not get caught up in our mission! I love that credit unions are not profit driven and are run by local communities, focusing on helping consumers. Sometimes it feels like everything is run by “too big to fail” corporations,, but all you have to do is look down Main Street in any town and know that’s not true when you see the credit union. Members aren’t nickel-and-dimed, and credit unions want to help them achieve the best financial success they can. I opened my first account at a credit union, and joined a credit union when I moved to Madison, but I had no idea about the whole amazing system behind the organizations.

Once I learned all that credit unions do to help their members, I found a new appreciation for the work I do here. I think Googolplex is a really important part of our mission here at CUNA and for credit unions. One of our main priorities is protecting consumers, and that means preparing everyone, especially kids and teenagers, for tough decisions about money. We teach youth about the importance of credit, protecting their identity, setting goals for their savings, and how a credit union is the opportune place to get help for anything financial. I’ve always been relatively smart about finding a balance between saving and spending, but I know plenty of people my age who don’t have a clue. I get some pleasure from knowing we may be stopping some kids from making big mistakes with their cash or credit.

So, I came into CUNA knowing nothing, and I mean nothing, about credit unions, and now I know a little something about these fantastic organizations. I’ve learned a lot working here, and I’ve also been taught a slew of valuable lessons and skills, like proper copy-editing, team work in the office, and a whole different type of writing style. I see credit unions as always being a part of my future, because there’s no way I’m moving my account to a bank after all I have learned here!

Kate Neuens is an editorial intern in the Center for Personal Finance. She is set to graduate from UW-Madison in May ’11 with a degree in Communication Arts and English.

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