Photo courtesy of Santander Bank.
Calling all experienced professionals! If you’re looking to return to the workforce after a period away, then Santander Bank’s Returnship Program may be the perfect fit. A Santander Returnship is a six-month paid internship that gives you the support to return to work by helping you refresh your skills and familiarize yourself with new tools and techniques.
To learn more about the benefits of this program, we recently chatted with Julie Deschenes, the Sr. Consultant, HR Technology & Learning at Santander Bank. After being laid off at her previous company due to a reorganization under a new CEO, Deschenes found the Santander Returnship program while searching for her next career move. Here, Deschenes shares how she used the program to vault into a senior role.
Tell us a bit about your current role. What are your priorities, and what about the role excites you most?
As a member of the Learning and Development Operations Team, I have the unique opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects and connect with so many colleagues across the SanUS and Global platforms. I’ve worked on redesigning the LMS platform as well as onboarding and managing vendors doing business with the L&D team. I created and manage the communications calendar for the group and provide consumption metrics for weekly, biweekly and quarterly meetings on L&D projects and Talent Acquisition.
Tell us about your career path before you took a break from the workforce.
I worked for a variety of different trade associations that represented different industries — municipalities, home health care, life sciences, banking and accounting groups. My career began in government relations working with state and federal officials on legislative and regulatory issues that were relevant to the association for whom I was employed at the time. I then segued over to developing educational programming for their respective education foundations. Many associations had an education foundation that provided a non-dues revenue generating stream that was created from mandatory continuing education programming.
Tell us about your participation in the Santander Returnship Program. How did that come about?
I was browsing through the Boston Business Journal and came across the ad for the Returnship. HRIS and Learning had an opening, and I thought it was a wonderful opportunity, so I applied!
Tell us about your experience in the Santander Returnship Program. How do you think it prepared you to return to full-time work?
We were introduced to the Santander Way during an intensive (and fun) series of seminars and presentations by Santander’s leaders. We even took the DISC assessment to find out our communication style! Our training really gave us a deep dive into the five financial companies owned by Santander in the U.S. Throughout the Returnship, our group met and talked about our experiences.
What about your experience made you want to join Santander as a full-time employee?
I really enjoyed the variety of projects, the pace and mostly the team with whom I worked.
Have you taken advantage of any additional professional development programs during your time at Santander? If so, which ones?
Santander provides colleagues with many opportunities to improve their skills through an extensive catalog of in-house developed learning as well as opportunities to utilize LinkedIn Learning and edX programming. I have taken courses in project management, design thinking, Spanish, Excel, Tableau and PowerPoint presentations.
Have you had a mentor/sponsor, and how did you wind up working with one?
Not a mentor, per-se, but I have worked closely with several team members who have supported me along the way.
How else does Santander support and/or empower you to grow your career?
In addition to taking skill building courses, we are actively encouraged to network and participate in the Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Connecting with colleagues across the platform has been a lifeline — particularly during the pandemic. Managers often encourage employees to find projects of interest and participate. It is a supportive environment.
What’s something you’re especially good at at work?
I have very good communication, diplomacy and organizational skills.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
When I asked a colleague about taking on a very risky project, she said, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,'' and “never lose your sense of humor.” I heeded her advice.
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