What’s it like to work in a branch?
Taking your first small step into a big career.
Taking your first step on the career ladder can be daunting, and you’re probably full of questions – and even wondering if this is the right career for you.
We got a few of our newer team members to let you know what it’s like to work in a branch – and take that first big step.
Thinking about applying.
Lewis works in the Sudbury branch and wasn’t sure if it was the right move for him initially.
“When I was at school, I never thought I would work in a bank or building society or even in an office. After I finished my GCSEs, I was looking for a job for the summer and some part time work while I was at 6th form.”
“When I first heard that there was a Saturday job available, I was initially hesitant to apply because I was never amazing at maths, and I thought I would have to be to work for the Society.
“I also thought the chances of me getting the job were slim because I didn’t think they would give the responsibility of handling people’s savings to someone so young (I was around 16 -17 at the time).”
“The first time I walked in the Society to drop my CV I felt quite scared…but as soon as I spoke to the staff members, I felt reassured”
Julie is in Sudbury too, and had a background in customer service:
“I graduated in French restaurant customer service. My previous jobs were mainly as a chef de rang, barmaid and barista.
“The first time I walked in the society to drop my CV I felt quite scared, the branch was quiet. But as soon as I spoke to the staff members, I felt reassured, they addressed me with politeness and smiles, chatted away with me and were really welcoming.”
Tiana is in our Ipswich Ravenswood branch and took the job to work alongside her studies:
“I joined as a Saturday member assistant as I was still studying at college. I went to Suffolk New College and studied Forensic Science and Criminology. All my previous job roles had been customer service roles – in which I had developed skills that I now use in my current role in the society.”
Training to support you in the role.
No matter what your background or previous experience, there’s plenty of training to help you get started.
Julie: “You can take the training process at your own speed, and the managers are patient, understanding and supportive.”
Tiana: “At first, I thought I would NEVER be able to what I do now because it all looked so confusing, and I was worried about things going wrong. My colleagues helped me so much and showed me how to do what we do and explained it all thoroughly.
“At first, I was not really asking questions when I was unsure of something. You do pick it all up quickly and if you were ever stuck, there would be a helping hand nearby.”
Lewis was nervous to begin with. “Most of my friends were washing pots, stacking shelves or waiting tables and I was going to be working in a building society which seemed so scary.
“This nervousness came from ignorance as I never understood what the role would entail. The job is far more about providing a great customer service rather than the crunching of numbers. When I started my knowledge of finance was very limited, but I was taught everything that I needed to know.”
Working with the public.
Tiana enjoys the variety of people you get to meet each week: “Our ‘members’ are what we call our customers. No member is the same. I believe it is important to build a relationship with our members as it builds trust which is important for us as an organisation.”
“…it is important to build a relationship with our members as it builds trust which is important for us as an organisation.”
“I enjoy working with our members, over the past 10 months of working here I have heard a lot of stories, some happy, some sad, some funny and some not so funny stories, but I treat everyone the same.
“I aim to make members feel satisfied and happy when they leave the society, because without them, there would be no us.”
Julie points out that all customer service roles can bring their challenges, but the results can make you feel good about the job you’ve done:
“Bringing reassurance and contentment to members is really rewarding. I believe that the staff are the main factor in customer satisfaction. Some of our customers do not always come for a transaction, some come just to exchange pleasantries. They brighten up our days as much as we brighten up theirs.”
Opportunities beyond your day-to-day role.
Julie has been able to focus on some of the issues that are most important to her:
“I have recently done some work on our non-binary gender training; it was really rewarding to change some of our old processes. I am looking forward to working on more of these and social media content in future, and to help the Society modernise as it grows.”
And Tiana has been thinking about how to grow her career now she’s here:
“There are many opportunities for you to expand your knowledge or build your career, for example, join a different department or achieve a higher-grade role.
“I have had many conversations with my manager about what I wanted to do once I had finished college. I eventually looked into being a full-time member assistant.”
Any advice for people looking to take that big step?
Lewis: “Don’t be worried that you’re too young to apply, I started working Saturdays at around 16/17 and I was working full time at 18. All the staff are helpful and friendly, so you get plenty of support as you’re learning the ropes.
“And don’t be worried if you’re not a maths genius, you don’t need to be – as long as you can deliver good customer service, you’re well on your way.”
“…as long as you can deliver good customer service you’re well on your way.”
Tiana: If I had to give advice about joining the Society it would be to not panic, take everything as it comes. It is ok to get things wrong – you won’t get everything right in the beginning and that is fine.
“Mistakes are a part of learning. Don’t forget to ask for help when you need it, no one will ever judge you because we all started in the same place.
Julie: “Go for it, seize the opportunity, jump in, you won’t regret it! Suffolk Building Society is a great place to work, you will have your good and bad days like in any other job, but here, you will be met with support, understanding and kindness.”
Join the team.