They’ve done away with traditional desks and computers at an area credit union.
A recent renovation of the PSECU Financial Education Center at Kutztown University incorporated a more relaxed, cozy atmosphere and informal setups, aimed at encouraging patrons to linger and ask more questions about financial services offerings and education.
Going beyond traditional teller windows and corner loan offices, the revamped financial center hopes to attract more students to its services and better engage customers.
“When a student steps into our center, we want them to get a sense that we’re progressive, approachable and ready to meet their specific needs,” said Kelly Ann Ryan, manager at Kutztown University’s PSECU Financial Education Center.
The Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union, or PSECU as it is commonly known, is based in Harrisburg and operates branch credit union offices on several college campuses in the Greater Lehigh Valley. It has 20 centers across Pennsylvania.
In addition to Kutztown, PSECU operates centers at East Stroudsburg University, Northampton Community College’s Bethlehem Township and Monroe campuses and Reading Area Community College.
A sixth center is planned to open in 2018 at Lehigh University with the same relaxed casual atmosphere.
Eligible credit union customers include students, faculty, staff and their family members.
Mike Verotsky, PSECU director of university development in Harrisburg, said the renovation at Kutztown offers more defined lounge areas and other areas for small group and workshop financial education sessions.
“The informal space can make the workshop more dynamic,” Verotsky said.
Helping to create an environment of financial responsibility, PSECU employs students as interns and staff in college campus locations.
Through “Wallet Works,” students receive help with financial planning, creating budgets through money management and living expenses, defining finances and future employment, and receive advice about healthy credit, among other topics.
Paid internships help students learn about money and share what they’ve learned with peers. Students in any major – not just accounting or finance, for example – are welcome to apply for jobs at PSECU, Verotsky said.
Kutztown employs up to eight college students to work in paid positions.
“We teach them how to create marketing plans, and it helps us to understand what students need. We learn from them,” he said.
THE REAL WORLD
Dylan Wingrove, 21, of Johannesburg, South Africa, is a Kutztown senior who was looking for an on-campus job when he applied to become a PSECU intern. Now, Wingrove is an assistant manager.
“The professional work experience, dealing with customers, learning policies and procedures and ensuring our customer satisfaction” has been an important experience, Wingrove said.
A political science and paralegal/pre-law major, Wingrove said his work experience has been valuable.
“You get real-world experience,” he said.
LEARNING FINANCIAL LITERACY
Trisha Scarcia-King, Kutztown director of the student union campus call center, said there are big benefits to students and their families to having PSECU on campus.
“The online component is extremely helpful, but having an in-person center with customer services is important, especially for our students who need to learn financial literacy,” Scarcia-King said.
Financial literacy is the ability to use knowledge and skills to effectively manage financial resources and needs.
CREATING STUDENT LEADERS
Because PSECU offers low- and no-cost financial services, it’s a good option for students seeking educational, housing or car loans and to accommodate online and in-person banking services.
“The vision of our program is to contribute to a stronger community through creation of a well-educated, financially savvy workforce,” Ryan said.
The workforce component makes PSECU an attractive partner for Kutztown, too.
“These [jobs] have created more student leadership positions, and additional skills are crucial beyond getting a paycheck,” Scarcia-King said.
DEVELOPMENT OF SOFT SKILLS
From PSECU jobs, young adults can hone professional work skills, develop a work ethic and mentality, as well as learn how to put others ahead of themselves.
These vital soft skills necessary for employment success often are not easily learned in a classroom, officials said.
“Hopefully, students are taking advantage of these services,” Scarcia-King said.