By Zane Kvasnicka, Intern at Core Bank
When people (especially my generation) think of the banking industry, they might think of Scrooge McDuck taking a swan dive into his swimming pool of money. They might also envision bankers who are constantly, non-sarcastically quoting Gordan Gekko, with one head banker guy reminding you that “greed is good” whenever he gets the chance. While some of this could be said about banks on Wall Street, your modern community bank is small, personal, and in our case very much like a start-up.
Internship at a Community Bank Like Core Bank
This type of internship is just what I needed to give me a pulse on my local community. I’m not far from downtown Kansas City, but to be a few miles away is to be a world away. People like to say that we live in a bubble in the United States, and that’s true, but I tend to think that we often live in a bubble in our city and even in our own neighborhood. It only takes a 5 minute conversation with a loan officer to realize that I know nothing about local restaurants, events, places, food in general, anything really. I can barely remember what I ate yesterday, let alone describe my dining experience that occurred months ago. I will be studying abroad in the Czech Republic in the fall, so I hope these combined experiences will pop a bubble for me that has long deserved to burst.
I’ve also noticed that banking tends to take on a language of its own when bankers speak with each other. It’s like if Einstein was speaking with Newton – they’re still speaking in English, you would just have no idea what they’re talking about. They’re abbreviating things, using shorthand versions of longer words. In my first few weeks, I felt like I was a jock attending a Star Trek convention while everyone was speaking Klingon.
In the end, I can confidently say that I have attained an elementary proficiency in the language of banking. And while it was intimidating at first, I’ve found that the most rapid learning develops in the real world, where you’re forced to confront the uncertain nature of the things you thought you had mastered on paper. Knowledge can be taught in a classroom, but wisdom is always gained through experience. And let me tell you one of these pieces of wisdom – every rose has its thorn, and that includes accounting.
I’m not a banker, I’m not yet even a college graduate, and the only thing I’m an authority on is the aux cord from time to time, but I have come away with some insights that I think are worth mentioning.
Things I’ve Learned
Taking a dispassionate look at numbers on a chart might work on Wall Street, but business is done much differently in the small business trenches. For your local bank, business seems to hit close to home because it is close to home. In fact, it’s right down the street.
I’ve learned that a bank is an institution designed to serve the community by a group of talented people. That’s all a bank is, really, a group of great people, and we just happen to be in the business of banking. And regardless of what happens in the next thousand years, great people will always have a place in business.
Most importantly, I’ve discovered that the book will never be fully written on each of our cities. Whether it’s Kansas City, Omaha, or Prague – small businesses, people, and of course banks are always adding pages to it. And I am thankful for Core Bank giving me the opportunity to add another chapter to that book.