Skills for Success: Career Awareness at Bank of America

Earlier this month, our high school Scholars visited the Albany offices of Bank of America, where they met with representatives from Bank of America, US Trust and Merrill Lynch. They learned how to read the financial pages of the newspaper, the difference between stocks, bonds and mutual funds, and about saving money and making a financial plan.

Financial professionals also provided useful advice about college financing. They gave students informational packets, and discussed the importance of knowing where their financial aid was coming from (scholarships, grants or loans) and whether or when the money would need to be repaid.

Scholars also heard from a panel of professionals who work across Bank of America and its subsidiaries in a range of careers including: client relations; marketing; home mortgage lending; wealth management; consumer lending and information technology. The panelists shared their experiences in college, discussed the paths they took to arrive at their current positions, and honestly described the challenges they faced along the way.

Some highlights from the conversation included:

"Learn to live within your means at a young age, and save for retirement as early as you can."

"Working in IT, you have to be willing to dig in and learn new things. Technology is changing all the time."

"You have to be willing to work with lots of different types of people to be successful. Networking is key. You never know who can help you."

"The two most important skills you can have are time management and organization."

"Grow your network. Say yes to new opportunities. Attend events, join clubs or groups."

"Get a mentor and also be a mentor. Everyone has something to give and something to learn."

"Your mentor can help you to identify both your strengths and your weaknesses. You're never too old or too young to have a mentor."

"In business, so many people are willing to help out folks who are just starting out. Don't be afraid to ask someone for advice."

"Finding a mentor is easier now than ever before. Use LinkedIn or other social media to find people who are working in a field that you're interested in, then ask them to meet for a cup of coffee. Chances are, they'll say yes."

"As a mentee, be willing to reach out to your mentor. Don't be afraid to ask your mentor for advice. Mentors can help you learn new things."

"Take advantage of opportunities to do internships--paid or unpaid. They will give you invaluable hands-on experience in your field. They can help you get a better idea about the work you're about to take on."

"Try a lot of different things. Join extracurricular activities, they'll help you to manage your time and diversify your experiences."

We are so grateful to Jillian, Mike, Adam, Liam, Rob, Courtney, Teresa, Rocky, Crystal and Tom for taking the time to speak to our Scholars. We are thrilled to count on the ongoing support from Bank of America, one of the lead donors of our Pathways to College program. 

We also thank the Workforce Development Institute for its funding of our career exploration program.