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Jessica Schindel - Taking the YP's to the next level

Updated: May 15, 2019

I have known Jessica Schindel for nearly ten years now and she is one of the most determined people I have ever met. She has won Young Professional of the Year, CRASHED numerous conferences, volunteers tirelessly in her community, started her own Young Professional Group and continues to push others to get involved and growth their own career. It was an absolute privilege to interview Jessica, she has such a real way of conducting her day to day while making others around her better.

Tell me about the internal Young Professionals Group at Community 1st Credit Union. What have been the struggles, how has it grown, and how can other Credit Union’s implement this strategy?

We started our Young Professionals group, Young Connection, in 2017. Young connection is a group that gives young professionals, ages 35 and under at Community 1st Credit Union, an opportunity to develop and strengthen their skills to become future Credit Union leaders. This group focuses on leadership, professional development, networking, volunteer engagement, mentoring, advocacy efforts and much more!

Since starting Young Connection three years ago, we have grown to 25 individuals in the group. Of those, 6 have received promotions at C1st, 2 have CRASHED the GAC, 1 has CRASHED the Iowa Credit Union League Convention, 2 have participated in the Iowa Innovation Group and 5 have become Board Members of Young Connection!

For just starting this group a few years ago, we have not run into many obstacles. I would say our biggest challenge however is event planning and coming up with new ideas for a group made up of new and existing members. It is important for us to touch on the basics each year, but we also want to make sure we are coming up with new yet worthwhile ideas, so the members in our group stay actively engaged.

If your Credit Union is filled with young professionals seeking education and advancement in their career, I’d encourage you to start your own YP group. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

* Get your senior management team and board members approval

* Understand your goals and target audience

* Form a committee

* Create a strategy and identify general requirements

* Build a budget

* Determine what types of activities/events you want to do

* Recruit individuals to apply

* Maintain and grow your program

Life is changing quickly for some of us “Young” Professional Veterans. Tell me about how you balance work/life and stay so involved in the Credit Union Movement and Young Professional Development?

I can’t say that I’ve mastered a work/life balance, but I truly believe if you are passionate about what you do, then it’s a lot easier to maintain balance between the two. I am always on the go and have a tendency to over commit, but I think I would be bored if I was not constantly striving to fill my time with things I love and are passionate about. I am a dance teacher/choreographer on the side, so my free time usually consists of long nights at the dance studio working with my students. I work hard, set manageable goals, but I also give myself a break every once in a while. It is important to take time for yourself to de-stress.

You have CRASHED and attended many events. How do you seek approval to be able to attend and what advice can you give to someone who may be unsure about applying?

I am very fortunate to work at a Credit Union that encourages employees to become better educated by attending round tables, conferences, workshops, etc. I think something important to remember is that you will only get out what you put in. You cannot expect more until you do more. Every time I attend one of these events, I make sure to use my takes-a-ways and apply them in my personal and professional life to help me become the best leader I can be.

Encouraging others to get involved and CRASH is a passion for me. I consistently push individuals who I see potential in to step outside their comfort zone and be part of something bigger than just their every day job. It is important that the next generation of Credit Union leaders have an understanding of issues Credit Union’s face and are able to continue the Credit Union’s philosophy of “people helping people”.

In the last couple of years, what are three things that you have implemented in your life or day to day that have helped you in your career and personal development?

I have grown so much over the last few years in my career and in my personal life. I have grown as a leader, a coworker, a friend, a wife, and I hope to keep improving myself every day. I feel more confident and I feel like I have a purpose. Here are a few things I do in my daily life that help improve my personal and professional development.

I spend time researching things I want to improve. If there is a certain skill you want to get better at, read about it, watch videos or listen to podcasts. I am constantly trying to educate myself to become the best version of who I want to be.

I work with others to push and train myself; self-development is not just a solo game. The best self-development, in my opinion, is done with others in some capacity. I make it a purpose to spend time with people who have similar interests or who are working on similar things. By doing this, I have found that I’ve grown and learned at a much faster rate than if I had tried to do it all alone.

I have learned to take risks. If I never would have stepped outside my comfort zone and CRASHED the GAC, I never would have ended up where I am today. By taking risks in life, I have gained self-confidence, I have met some amazing people, and by embracing risk in my life, I am learning to overcome the fear of failure.

CRASHING the GAC seems to really have been impactful for you. Can you talk a bit more about that experience and after seeing the big picture what has your mindset been like?

Prior to crashing the GAC, I knew very little about the Credit Union Movement and everything it entailed. I can now officially say that being a Crasher in 2016 was the most transformative event in my professional career! It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that left me inspired, motivated, confident and more aware of how I play an important role in the credit union movement. The entire experience ignited a passion within me that I didn’t know I had, and it inspired me to become more of a leader in my credit union and in the community!

After leaving the GAC, I came back to my Credit Union knowing I wanted to make a difference. This is how our Young Professionals group, Young Connection formed. I knew there was a need to bring all of the young professionals in our credit union together to help them gain those skills required to become future leaders in the credit union industry. In 2017, I applied for the Iowa Innovation Group and was selected; I have attended multiple ELC events, created connections with other like-minded individuals and have become more involved in the credit union movement as a whole.

I was awarded with the 2018 Young Professionals award from my peers at the Iowa Credit Union League Convention, which I am so honored to have received. I am not ready to stop there though! I am constantly educating myself to become a better leader within my personal life and my professional career. My goal is to encourage other young individuals in the CU movement to take a chance and get more involved. It changed my life and I’m hoping it will help make a difference in theirs.

What is next for you?

Well, as crazy as it sounds, I am going to slow down a little bit this next year because my husband and I are welcoming a baby in early August! We are very excited for this new chapter in our lives and I’m looking forward to seeing where this new journey as a mother will take me.

CUltivate is people helping people with our mission to spread the word, connect the people, and give an outlet to share your stories.

Know someone in the industry we should interview? Drop us a line at #CUltivateTheMovement

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