Hello, my name is Samantha Dunn (I typically go by Sam!) and I’m super excited to be talking about my experience with the Accelerate Commercial Banking New Graduate Development Program. I graduated from Queen’s University in April of 2020 where I completed a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree. Although I attended university in Ontario, I’m originally from Calgary, Alberta. I’m now excited to be continuing my journey in Kelowna, British Columbia where I’ve joined the Commercial Banking team!
During my time at Queen’s, I was a member of a club that focused on supporting Women in Financial Markets (QWFM). I was fortunate enough that our club was invited to Scotiabank for a day. The day was filled with opportunities to speak to recruiters, a tour of the office space, and numerous panel discussions. I remember hearing about the Accelerate program and peeking at the list on my phone where I had written down all of the characteristics that I was searching for in a career. The Accelerate program had the perfect balance between technical work, research, and client relationships, and I knew the program would be a great fit for me.
I toured other offices and attended events put on by other banks, but it became very clear how special Scotiabank was to me. Every person I spoke to at Scotiabank genuinely enjoyed what they did and were excited about all the opportunities available to them. This wasn’t a feeling anyone could fabricate; the employees truly did beam with pride about the amazing company culture.
I had set my sights on being hired by Scotiabank, but there was still something that worried me. I didn’t think any company would take a chance on a student that had never taken a financial course or put them in a position where that knowledge was imperative. But Scotiabank did, and after being hired I saw the enormous amount of material available to all the employees. While it wasn’t easy, I eventually began to get my financial literacy up to par with my peers. It’s evident how much time and resources the Bank has allocated to ensuring their employees feel supported and can continue to learn and grow wherever they go in their careers.
I am currently on the Roynat team, but I have also completed my four-month rotation in Distribution. One of the highlights of the Accelerate program is that you are able to try out multiple divisions to find what best suits you. As of now, I’ve really enjoyed the Roynat and Distribution experiences for different reasons. Distribution is interesting because you work with larger complex businesses, while Roynat deals with clients that are usually higher risk. In the spring, I will be joining the Global Risk Management team. This is unique to the Accelerate program as most Commercial bankers don’t have the opportunity to learn about this division during their career! There are more business units to rotate through depending on the city you are working in as well, such as Real Estate or Automotive Commercial Banking.
Honestly, I do not have any specific career goals at the moment, I’m just excited to be at Scotiabank and to be learning about something so different than what I studied in university. One thing that really stood out to me was that during our first month as Associates in Accelerate, our Program Manager encouraged us to discuss with them the other areas of the Bank that interested us. Since the first day, it truly felt as though the Bank cared about our interests and helping us reach our career goals whether they happened to be in Commercial Banking or a different area of the Bank.
My advice to students is to keep an open mind and not limit yourself to one industry just because you see yourself on a specific career path. I never thought I would be working for a bank when I graduated, but I’m so happy that I am. I found that the easiest way to keep an open mind was by writing down a list of qualities and day-to-day tasks that I wanted to have in my future job. You’d be amazed at how many different industries could check just about everything on my list. I’ve had jobs that I didn’t enjoy every aspect of, but it’s just as important to find out what you don’t like as what you do like when discovering your career path. Finally, I would advise keeping an open mind about traveling for work! If you are willing to relocate, I think it may surprise you how many opportunities there are in other cities or markets. One of the main reasons I chose to work in Kelowna was because I knew that the businesses that I would learn about would be diverse and help me build a strong foundation for other areas in Canada.
To learn more about the Accelerate Commercial Banking Development Program, click here!