I awoke early in my hotel suite, but felt very rested after almost no sleep in over 30 hours. I had ironed my shirt the night before. I only brought a carry-on bag with me, so it was more than wrinkled. You should know that I have actually never learned how to properly iron clothing, but I do it so infrequently, it has never been an issue. I went downstairs to review my breakfast options. Wearing a completely professional outfit while eating breakfast at a hotel was also a first for me. I made my way over to my workplace to start my day of shadowing in our Collections department. I have always had a personal interest in finance, so I thought it would be a good place to start my exploration into the company. Also, my previous supervisor was now a manager (2nd Level Leadership) in this department. This was an easy “in” for me. I always talk to my co-workers about playing the long-game at work. I will mostly likely stay with the company for many years, if not my entire main career, so I have learned to not burn any bridges.
In my current role, my power over billing amounts is extremely limited in all matters. However, since this was the actual department billing the customer for the product, they had some options. Even the first-level representative could set up Payment Arrangements, if certain criteria were met. This was amazing to see. Similar actions could be taken by the upper-level representatives, but with even more leeway on how the adjustments could be made. The idea of extending an auto loan by two months and skipping two months payment as a result was a little mind-blowing. *BOOM*
The other section of this fascinating department was the Complaint Team. This role would be the closest to my current position. We use a similar tool to document the concerns of the customers. However, these people actually reviewed the complaints and sent out the resolution letters to the customers. This is also different than what I am able to complete in my current role. The key difference is that regular insurance products are governed by state laws, whereas the bank products are controlled by national law. Ahh, the simplicity. (I just completed a training on how that works in more detail and Collections is looking pretty good now.)
Later in the day, my previous boss set up a “catch-up” meeting for us to sit down and talk about my future. I mentioned that I also had an interest in the regular insurance products underwriting division. That one comment became a half-day of shadowing the next day. This is how fast people work if you know them and they like you. I consider myself lucky. Even with all the awkward traits that I bring with me, I am able to get my interests across to the leaders. These leaders support me by getting me where I need to go to be successful. I also realized that all the members of a certain level of Leadership all know each other. This became my advantage without even realizing it. In that same line of thinking, there was a drive that pulses through the whole building. Shadowing with other departments is a normal occurrence. You can feel the striving to move up in the company and the work ethic. This is something that I had not experienced before. My current location has a more “I’m never leaving this city” type of attitude among the workers below a certain level. This also comes with the amount of tenure and age of the workers. There are plenty of people that are middle-aged or older and have settled down to stay. This is completely understandable but gives a young person (like myself) a strange filter to view the company through.
After all that work and learning and thinking, I was ready for dinner. I had set up going out with some other work friends of mine. Actually, the “planner” of the group even gave me a ride to the restaurant. One thing I noticed on top of that competitive drive was a real sense of community and helping others. This was not only in the workplace, but in general. I could see why people would move here to raise a family. The restaurant was a place that followed a “Farm to Table” philosophy, so all food was organic and delicious.
I had been keeping these friends up-to-date with my plans to move and find a new job in a new city. They gave me the honest opinions of what I might like and what I might NOT like about living there. The weather was the big one that they really focused on. As a native Floridian, I have never lived anywhere where it snows. They knew this and wanted to make sure I understood the interesting life moments that can bring. Even during them warning me off the move because of the weather, it reminded me of my friends from a while back. Just going out and spending time with people my own age was really enjoyable. That carries a lot of background for me as I have been having trouble finding friends in my current city (partially due to my introvert nature and partly because I hate the idea of spending time making friends, just to leave.)
After another good night’s sleep at the hotel, I made my way to observe the Underwriting division in the other building. I learned a lot and found the same mindset of the workers there as far as their determination and upward drive. I had to go directly to the airport after that, so I said my goodbyes and arrived at the tiny airport to catch my flight to Dallas for the second half of my work-related adventure. What I took away from the trip up to this point was that even though the adventure of getting to this wonderful place was full of travel hiccups, the scenery and the friendly, inclusive people made it worth it. I could live there. My next location, however, was the populated suburbs around Dallas, which brought other surprises and delights.