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Banker Spotlight: Back to School with Lindsey Popiolek

Poynt TerminalWe have an amazing team of bankers working at South State. Some, like Lindsey, are busy juggling full time work with being a student. Originally shared by Amy Cox, a HR Manager at South State, as a LinkedIn Pulse blog post, here’s Lindsey’s story.

Back to School: What Those Words Mean in the Workplace

When you hear “back to school,” images of yellow school buses and young students carrying lunch boxes usually come to mind. But there are other students returning to school this fall – students we don’t think as much about. They’re the students in our workforce who are working full time and also going to school to further their education and advance their careers.

When I first started my journey in Human Resources, I went to school full time, worked a part time HR internship and worked another part time job in retail.  I often look back to those days and think, “How in the world did I balance it all?”  It’s hard for me to explain how much I admire our team members who are able to balance not only their full-time school schedule, but also the pressures of everyday life, like buying groceries, cooking, cleaning and tending to family, with the added challenge of their career here at South State Bank.  My journey was easy compared to their journey.

Lindsey Popiolek, an IT Senior Project Manager at South State Bank, is just one of the many South State team members working full time and advancing her education. She’s enrolled in a Clemson University business analytics hybrid MBA program, offering a combination of online learning and classroom learning, which is completed over an intense weekend every other month. She started her MBA four years after completing her undergraduate studies.

“I heard that grad school is great if you have work experience to bring to it,” Lindsey says. “Having more experience was the best decision I made.”

She says having some work experience under her belt also helped shape her decision about what to study. “At South State Bank, we strive for data-driven decisions. That’s exactly what business analytics offers,” Lindsey says. “I believe in continuous improvement. I see that there’s so much more I can learn.”

Lindsey acknowledges the hardest thing about working and going to school is finding the time to do it all. Given that she’s a project manager, she’s perhaps better than the average person about adhering to schedules, but even she says she’s had to build the discipline of spending Saturday mornings in her favorite coffee shop completing her schoolwork so she has free time in the afternoon.

When asked about what lessons she’d impart to other students who are also working, Lindsey says, “The biggest thing I had to learn was to give myself grace for missing things due to school or work. My friends and family are understanding if I have to say no, but I was not ok saying no to things. I have to remind myself this is just a season … this is just temporary.”

She says working for a bank has also taught her some important lessons about making sure she was financially equipped for school. As soon as she started working for South State, she set up accounts for various purposes – one for checking, one for savings/school and one for travel. Lindsey set up her direct deposit such that a portion of her income was automatically deposited into each account. “When you’re saving automatically, it’s easy to watch it add up. Because the money for my travel or school was never something I was taking out of my checking account, I never even missed it.”

I’m grateful to work for a company that encourages team members like Lindsey to pursue their dreams and supports them in a variety of ways along their journey. I’m proud South State has set up partnerships to offer tuition assistance to team members attending Queens University and Limestone College, and we also offer resources to help team members pay down student debt.

To Lindsey and all other students who plan to juggle a full-time workload and further their education this fall – I wish you the best. The journey seems long, but the reward is worth it. You will get that Saturday morning back, you will RSVP “yes” to parties again, and you will excel further in your career because of your focus now.  We’ll be cheering you on along the way and ready to celebrate you at the end!

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