I recently read an article about how different the job market environment is today for college graduates compared to when their parents were entering the workforce a few decades ago. It led me to spend some time reflecting on the path that led me to the first year-and-a-half of employment at First Business Bank.

I’m a very goal-oriented person. In my previous life as a basketball player, I would write down my goals for each year and identify the steps I had to take to accomplish them. More recently, as an aspiring Ironman, I kept a journal of my goals for the year, week, and day that would allow me to achieve my goal of becoming an Ironman finisher. As it turns out, this works!

Another recent goal of mine was to find a job after college…Yikes! After five fantastic years of college (don’t judge, I’m a slow learner) the real world came knocking. Most of us spend the first 20+ years of our lives knowing exactly what to expect and where to go next. We attend elementary school, then middle school, then high school, then some type of career training or college. But after that, we are faced with the dreaded unknown. Now what?

Personally, I contemplated continuing my basketball career and playing professionally overseas. Due to a nagging injury, this plan just wasn’t really going to work. I underwent surgery, and to keep a long story short, when it came time to head overseas for the season to begin, my body was in no condition to commit to the 10-month grind that professional basketball demands.  More importantly, I was satisfied and content with my basketball career. I was fortunate enough to play in the Big Ten, The NCAA Tournament, and even the Final Four. I was ready for a new challenge.

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Choosing your first job is tough. A major criterion for my job search was to find a position that offered a path of progression. This is what I’ve known all my life: when there’s a plan in place, it’s much easier to set those goals and identify targets to check off the list. It’s not surprising to me that many highly motivated grads are attracted to organizations that help employees achieve their goals with defined training and development programs.

Fortunately, First Business Bank began building its Commercial Banking Development Program a few years earlier with my friend (and former UW golfer) Eric Schremp. He began here as a Credit Analyst Intern and progressed to his current Assistant Vice President – Commercial Real Estate Banking role. With his input, they created the program that I am now a part of.

The various phases of the First Business Bank Commercial Banking Development Program combine mentoring, on-the-job training, networking, job shadowing, and more to deliver an immersive experience. Over two years, it allows you to understand the First Business Bank credit culture, and gain confidence, knowledge, and practical skills in commercial credit and banking.

The development program offers a defined fast track to becoming a commercial banker or lender, and offers flexibility to choose your banking path. With a structured career plan that outlines what your responsibilities will look like in two years, five years, and beyond, the program provides a clear path to get there. This kind of structure might not be for everyone, but it appealed to me because it offered yet another opportunity to identify targets and set goals to achieve them.  

First Business Bank expects you to challenge yourself and set your goals high – that’s clear from day one. What is also clear is that they give you the tools to achieve them. In my book, it’s a win-win. When you have the skills and proper planning in place, competing for a National Championship, finishing an Ironman, or getting the next promotion is suddenly within your grasp.

If you’re looking for a company that values its employees and challenges you to maximize your potential, make sure to keep your eye on the open jobs.