Mackenzie Madden ’22 Shares Her Journey to Citizens Bank
By Colman Benson ’24
CB: Describe your experience as a Holy Cross student, majoring in economics and psychology, pursuing a Certificate in Business Fundamentals.
MM: I decided to do the Business Fundamentals Certificate freshman year before I had even declared a major. I knew I wanted to do something in business, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. It seemed like a good way to learn about the world of business outside of the liberal arts education. Then, when I decided on my majors, I found the combination of economics and psychology to be a nice pairing because economics gave me the ability to learn about traditional business and finance, while psychology allowed me to learn more about people and understanding our thoughts. Combining my majors with my certificate gave me a unique perspective that I may not have got from a traditional liberal arts education. I was able to gain business skills from my certificate while studying two very different disciplines to gain a broad knowledge base.
CB: Was there a specific workshop, activity, club, speaker, etc. that influenced your decision to go into the financial services industry?
MM: I would say it was a combination of all of them. The Fullbridge Program is a great starting point because it gives you an overview of fundamental business skills you need to know, no matter what field you go into. Then, other workshops like Global Supply Chain, Marketing Communications, and Business Ethics all build on top of each other and show different sectors of business you can go into. These workshops helped me learn what I liked and what I didn’t. Although I work in banking now, I didn’t do the Finance and Banking Certificate because as a freshman I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do yet. I think that the Business Fundamentals Certificate was so beneficial to me because it gave me a wider array of information that allowed me to experience many different business functions. It’s a great certificate if you don’t know what direction you want to take in business, as it provides countless opportunities of exposure to different lines of business.
CB: How did your liberal arts education help separate you from traditional business majors during your job search?
MM: Currently at Citizens I work in a cohort with other people who went to business schools or were finance majors. I think having a liberal arts education gave me the soft skills that are unteachable. When you go to Holy Cross, the liberal arts education teaches you how to communicate with people and how to be an advocate for yourself. We also learn soft skills in our small class sizes, and are exposed to a variety of common area requirements that teach us to think about things from a variety of perspectives. Already in my experience at Citizens, I’ve seen how there are hard skills anyone can learn on the job, but having the fundamental soft skills already instilled into you gives you a leg up compared to others.
CB: In traditional finance internships, most candidates will receive a job offer on their last day. Your junior summer you did not intern for Citizens, how were you able to connect with them, go through the interview process, and receive a full time position after graduation?
MM: I applied for the CBEX (Consumer Banking and Enterprise Experience) internship my junior year and didn’t get it, but I connected with some Holy Cross alumni that work at Citizens and stayed in touch with them. This gave me familiar faces and names to keep in touch with. I also began to network with other employees at Citizens early in my senior year, getting my name out there and practicing my interviewing skills. I was very stressed about this because the jobs I was interested in are typically filled by interns that previously worked there. By staying in touch with current employees at Citizens, I was able to get my foot in the door even if I didn’t intern for them previously. I think it's also important to keep your job search broad, and not focus on a couple companies, but look at all the opportunities you have. Take the time to practice your interviewing skills so when you get to those superdays you are prepared. Confidence is key and being able to articulate the benefit your liberal arts education provides will differentiate you from other candidates in the job pool.
CB: What are the benefits of a rotational program at Citizens?
MM: When I left Holy Cross I didn't know what I wanted to do and I would even still say I don’t. The rotational program allows you to work full time in four different divisions of the bank for the three months each. You get to learn about everything the team does, get full responsibilities on the projects as if you were full time on the team, connect with all the members of the team and grow your network. After three months you move to another rotation and learn everything about that business line. I am able to do this four times and have four new experiences, versus if I had just picked a job in one of the business lines I would be stuck. This gives me a full year to try new things and see what I like and what I don’t. Through this I can network and meet new people throughout the bank. At the end of the year, I can choose what I think I will succeed the best in. For someone who didn’t know what they wanted to do, it was definitely the right thing for me because I am getting so many experiences in just one year. And the network that I will be able to grow in a years time is larger than it ever could be if I settled into one business line. Similar to the benefit of a liberal arts education, having a broader background will allow me to include different perspectives on whatever team I end up on.
CB: How has the Holy Cross alumni network impacted your professional career?
MM: I met with an alum at Citizens who works in the commercial bank and I wanted to work on the consumer side. He was super supportive and helped reach out to employees on my behalf. He was always willing to meet with me and give me any advice he could. There was an intern this summer from Holy Cross that I was immediately able to form a bond with because we could talk about our school experiences. I think the alumni network is very large and supportive, I just wish there was more at Citizens! Connections are so important in any business line, and every alum from HC that I’ve ever talked to from businesses even outside of Citizens have demonstrated their deep dedication to helping current students. Don’t underutilize your connections!!
CB: Are there aspects of the Holy Cross mission that you continue to experience as an alumna?
MM: Citizens is very big on volunteerism and serving the community. It is one of the company’s four pillars. Citizen’s puts an emphasis on employee volunteerism and the experiences I had giving back while at Holy Cross has made me want to continue doing volunteer work at Citizens. I see the benefit for the company as a whole as well as the development of the person, and I have really enjoyed joining volunteer events and groups at the bank.
CB: What advice would you give to a Holy Cross student trying to leverage their liberal arts degree and Business Certificate to start a career in finance?
MM: I would say never write yourself out. Coming from a liberal arts school you have a different perspective than traditional business students. No opportunity is off the table just because you don't have a business degree. Having a business certificate coupled with your liberal arts education is a unique opportunity that many don’t have. Make sure you can articulate to employers how your experience is different from others, but will set you apart in positive ways. Although Holy Cross doesn’t have a business school, we have opportunities to learn about business and connect with alumni who work in business. I think this gives certificate students an extra leg up they would not have if they were just a liberal arts student. Hustle for the job you want, nothing is impossible and there are so many experiences out there that can change your perspective on things!