High School Internship Program Helps Students Grow Careers in Banking
Partnership and mentorship can help young people prepare to enter the workforce
For Jorge Estudillo-Castillo, thinking about a future career in banking started while attending Cristo Rey Jesuit High School Twin Cities and interning at a U.S. Bank branch in Minneapolis.
“I like being challenged and being a little hard on myself to accomplish more so I can go above and beyond,” said Estudillo-Castillo, who is now a college student studying finance and a U.S. Bank teller. “Being able to fulfill the internship requirement Cristo Rey has at U.S. Bank was a great opportunity to grow and develop before graduating from high school.”
For two years while attending Cristo Rey, Estudillo-Castillo worked alongside René Madrid, the South Minneapolis branch manager, to learn the ins and outs of what it means to be a banker serving a diverse community and to grow as an individual.
“When I first joined the branch, I was a shy and reserved kid,” Estudillo-Castillo said. “When René first showed me the banking systems, I said to myself that I couldn’t do this. Now look at me.”
As he works toward his college degree, Estudillo-Castillo is a peak-time teller at the same branch he interned at while a Cristo Rey student.
“I have no expectation when a student comes in,” Madrid said. “We evaluate where they are, what challenges they might have. For instance, one intern of mine during COVID wasn’t fully engaging. It turned out he was watching his two siblings while doing his schooling. We changed our approach on how best to support him as a U.S. Bank team.”
That hands-on approach and investment in each student’s future is encouraged across the U.S. Bank footprint through partnerships and programming to support and grow young talent in the financial sector. In 2023, U.S. Bank welcomed more than 500 early talent individuals from high schools and colleges as they started their career in banking.
“We want to understand each student’s goals and help them reach them by putting them in front of the right opportunities,” Madrid said. “In Jorge’s instance, he came to me before his graduation from Cristo Rey and asked me what he needed to do to make sure when his internship was up that he could come work here.”
For Cristo Rey, it’s stories like Estudillo-Castillo’s that showcase the positive, long-term impact that partnerships between it and companies in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area can have when working together.
“We want to partner with employers who see potential in our students and with employers our students see potential in,” said Jason Morrison, president of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School Twin Cities.
As a school focused on college and work preparedness, an internship is required for all Cristo Rey students to graduate.
“The vast majority of our students who graduate are first-generation students or are the first in their family to enter a professional workforce,” Morrison said. “This is an opportunity for them to build relationships and to network, which will help them find success in fields they might never have been introduced to otherwise.”
The partnership between Cristo Rey and U.S. Bank can affect more than just each intern, with knowledge often being spread out among the broader community.
“When students come back after working at the branch, they share vocabulary, insights and learnings. I’m like, ‘What is all of this?’ It’s amazing,’” said Kesiah Kolbow, director of the Cristo Rey Corporate Works Study Program. “From a knowledge standpoint, there’s a real equity aspect to this partnership between us, the student and U.S. Bank. They are learning how to access a bank and are sharing their financial literacy among their peers and with their families.”
With his college studies underway, Estudillo-Castillo said he plans on staying with the bank, growing his career and looking at what it would take to develop into a mortgage loan officer.
“When I was an intern, I realized René had confidence in me and that was key to helping me grow,” Estudillo-Castillo said. “I needed him to help motivate me, and he was crucial to getting me to where I am today.”
Madrid said that supporting young adults as they prepare to enter the workforce is a highlight of his career and an opportunity to share his own personal journey.
“My favorite thing about my work is how I serve as a role model and coach,” Madrid said. “I started as a peak time teller, and I share that with them. Having them see themselves in myself and my peers is one of my greatest joys.”