Jennifer knew she wanted a career in marketing. It was, after all, what she majored in and the focus of her graduate program. But she knew that people who become leaders require more than just one type of experience and knowledge to get there.
Finding a job after graduation that offered that kind of diversity of experience, people, and perspectives wasn’t easy, either. Then Jen heard about Citizens Bank’s Leadership Development Programs.
“I had an undergraduate degree in marketing and I was currently pursuing my MBA, so I was looking for something that had a rotational aspect so that I could learn more about other areas of business in addition to marketing,” she says.
The program combined all of her passions: community, learning, and—of course — marketing. Needless to say, she got the job.
But what exactly is a leadership development program — and how did its diversity of opportunities, exposure, and people offer Jen such a bright future? We spoke to her to find out.
What Is A Leadership Development Program?
Citizens Bank’s LDPs are rotational programs for recent grads that offer the opportunity to learn from a slate of departments, managers, mentors, classes, and responsibilities.
Jen was in the Consumer Banking Leadership Development Program, but the company also offers LDPs in technology, finance, capital markets, and more.
For Jen, that meant undertaking four, three-month rotations across the Digital Marketing, Operations, Retail, and Consumer Strategy departments. It also meant being assigned an executive mentor, training alongside her cohort of program colleagues, and tackling major projects across the business.
“It was very different from any other entry-level roles that I was exploring,” Jen says, citing “the rotational aspect, the fact that you have exposure to executives right out of the gate, and the networking opportunity even beyond the program.”
The goal at the end of the program was to become a better professional, with full knowledge of the company and the skills for a leadership role.
How Jen and her colleagues got there, though, is the interesting part.
Learning On The Job (And From Each Other)
The program offered Jen (and everyone else in it) the opportunity to focus heavily on professional development and learning while still taking on challenging tasks and high-impact projects for the bank.
The learning and doing mostly happened at the same time, Jen says, and it came in a variety of forms.
“We were assigned executive mentors at the beginning of the program,” Jen explains. “My mentor was Lamont Young, who is the Head of Digital Marketing here, which is ultimately the organization I ended up reporting into. So, he and I still have that mentor/mentee relationship where I can go to him for advice.”
There was also exposure to other executives who ran the program, which was something Jen said was unique about the program. If you wanted to have a conversation or learn more from a senior leader, all you had to do was ask.
Another major pillar of their development (and their work) was the projects to which they were assigned.
“One of the things that Citizens does as part of being in the development program is that you work on a project with colleagues in different development programs,” she explains. “It was really great to be able to work with cross-functional teams and meet new people outside of this office as well.”
She also got to work alongside people in her Consumer Banking LDP cohort, and those relationships turned out to be some of the strongest she made at the company.
“We do a lot of networking. We do volunteer events together. We have executive Lunch and Learns together, even still being out of the program for a few years,” she says. “We’re a pretty close-knit group. When we’re all in the same office, we’ll go out for drinks or lunch.”
Great friends also make great colleagues, Jen says: “Having a cohort is awesome because you have someone to rely on and we’ll still ping each other now if we’re working on a project and we think that their experience would be helpful.”
The Program Made Her The Perfect Candidate For Her Dream Job — Which Citizens Offered Her
One of the biggest issues many recent grads face is that they simply don’t have enough experience to qualify for the jobs they really want. The Citizens LDP gave Jen years’ worth of experience and development in just 12 months. And this helped Jen make herself the perfect candidate for her dream job on the Digital Marketing team.
“We worked on different projects, so when I was in Digital Marketing, I created a marketing plan, which is something I was familiar with in college,” she says.
“But in the Retail rotation, we spent time actually with the frontline colleagues, so it was great to see that experience. It’s one thing to hear about challenges that the branch colleagues are facing when you’re on the corporate side, but when you actually experience it and can interface with the customer, that’s valuable insight,” she says.
More than being exciting, it was the perfect experience for a marketer and a business professional—she saw both the challenges faced by people in the bank and the successes they were able to bring people.
“Toward the end of the program, we all interview for open jobs,” Jen says. And given her experience and performance, hiring her was a no-brainer.
“I ended up back in Digital, which is where I really wanted to be. I’m currently on the social media team and have been for about two years now,” she says.
Jen found her dream job — and a whole new set of skills — through the Citizens Leadership Development Program. Are you ready to find yours?
Learn more and check out open roles at Citizens on WayUp!