Being a crasher was one of the best experiences I’ve ever encountered within the credit union industry! Who knew being around so many young professionals would help create innovative ideas, implement projects to bring back to your team and organization, and build lifelong connections with your fellow crashers. It takes you out of your comfort zone, at least for me, and it left me feeling empowered, wanting to enforce change for the better.
When I first arrived in DC, I met up with a few other crashers and we all took an Uber to the hotel. Everyone was so excited, but I just couldn’t wait to lay down. We didn’t have anything planned that night, so a few of us decided to meet at the hotel bar for happy hour. Everyone was so nice and easy to talk to. We decided to go to dinner afterwards where I met more crashers, and instantly connected with quite a few people. We all shared common interest, and were excited to learn so much. Not just about advocacy, but just consume whatever we can take in from each other and from the speakers we were going to meet. So, although I had my heart set on sleeping, that all changed.
Being from California, I was on a three-hour difference so waking up at 7am the next day, definitely felt like 4am. I had to roll myself out of bed. Luckily, my roommate Jobanna, was there to encourage me to wake up. In our first session, we all did an elevator pitch to a few of our colleagues, which actually was a perfect exercise for us to do to get ready for all the credit union enthusiast we were getting ready to meet. There was also a session done by my mentor Andrea, in regards to Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity. All I have to say is “WOW”! It was so relatable and opened so many eyes on such an important topic. I was so happy to hear it being discussed.
I can honestly say all the sessions the Crasher team put together were so informative and beneficial to us, not only in our work-life, but in our personal lives as well. We learned about leadership, what others are doing well within the industry, becoming the better version of ourselves, foundations, and advocacy, just to name a few. The receptions were so much fun, but they also got me to loosen up a little more. Being an introvert, I was totally out of my element introducing myself to others, let along sparking a conversation with them. My mentor told me to just relax, and don’t criticize myself so much. After talking with her, I took her advice, and I truly feel that night was a game changer for me. I made the effort to approach people, shake their hands, introduce myself, and talk about my future. To see people intrigued and wanting to hear more, I couldn’t stop talking. By me doing this, I found connections who had similar interests as me, and got offered two jobs. Since I’m currently in school and love my job, I declined, but you never know what kind of opportunities could arise just by networking.
Our mentors Cortney, Andrea, Becca, Ben & Sarah were some of the coolest and smartest mentors I’ve ever had. They were all so supportive of us and helped us with anything we needed. I didn’t hear not one bad thing about them. Lauren, our photographer was also pretty awesome! The fact they all were a crasher before, made things easier because they knew how to prepare us. Did I mention they kept telling us we couldn’t be late to a 6:45am call time, so that meant I had to wake up at 2:30am Cali time? I won’t hold it against them though because I was fully aware of not sleeping. Team no sleep! Although I was a zombie most of the mornings, I still somehow was able to take in the morning sessions and actually gather notes to take back to my credit union, that’s how interesting they were.
Besides the sessions and connecting with my awesome Crasher family, the one thing that will stand out to me the most is meeting with our legislators at the Capital. I was so nervous and felt quite intimidated. The first two meetings, I was quiet as a mouse, but learned from my fellow colleagues. The next two meetings, I spoke and felt like my voice mattered. I helped in making a difference to try and have a positive impact on the credit union industry. To see people so passionate about credit unions and advocating for them was so inspiring and heartwarming.
Truthfully, I would recommend any of my colleagues to be a Crasher. Not just at GAC, but just one in general. Besides us being mini-celebrities, we learn SO much, and we leave a new person, at least I did. I couldn’t wait to comeback and share with my organization the experience I had. I was thinking about leaving the credit union industry once I get my masters, but that all changed after Crashing the GAC. This is such a great industry, and I am proud to say I am apart of it. Plus, I made some pretty cool friends that I hope to keep in touch with for a lifetime.