Five years ago, Nusenda Credit Union began offering free finance classes to Albuquerque high school students.

Today, 19 of the 150 students who’ve completed the course are working for Nusenda full time. Sixty-one other former students have gone on to intern for the credit union.

This spring, the course, called Financial Service Career Exploration, will run from Feb. 5 to April 29. Class will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-4:50 p.m. at the Career Enrichment Center in Albuquerque. The class is free.

"There’s a need for workforce development opportunities, there’s a need for internship opportunities for students," said Shana Runck, Nusenda’s assistant vice president of community relations and financial capability, in a phone interview Monday. "Nusenda is deeply committed to innovative programs, innovative solutions, expanding education and career opportunities."

The course previously was offered year round, but low enrollment relegated it back to just the fall and spring in summer 2015, when, at the time, just 40 students took and completed the course over the span of a year and a half, according to previous Business First reporting. Almost three years later, 110 more students have gone through the program.

The course lectures will be led by a financial capability specialist, along with other guest speakers to teach the students an introduction to a finance career path, as well as the soft skills needed in all other career paths.

"It’s kind of like putting the theory into practice," Runck said. "A lot of our guest speakers reiterate a lot of those skills."

Graduates of the course can then apply for an internship with Nusenda. Runck said the internship program is designed similar to new employee training to maximize the experience. Runck believes both parties benefit from the Financial Service Career Exploration course, calling it a "win-win."

"It’s our duty to give back to the community and provide these opportunities, but it’s also a valuable recruiting tool for us," Runck said. "We’ve found some really amazing talent through this program."

The program began as a partnership called Running Start for Careers, which was launched during former Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry’s tenure and was designed to provide hands-on, industry experience for high school students. Nusenda, a founding partner, launched its financial service course then.

Founded in 1936, Nusenda Credit Union employs 441 New Mexicans and has $1.87 billion million in 2016 New Mexico assets, according to Business First’s Credit Unions List.

Credit Unions

Ranked by 2016 NM assets

Rank Business name 2016 NM assets 1 Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union $2.35 billion 2 Nusenda Credit Union $1.87 billion 3 U.S. Eagle $951.05 million View This List

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