Citi Turns 200: Training graduates for careers overseas
May 25, 2012 09:00 AM
In celebration of Citigroup's 200th Anniversary, we are sharing stories from our rich history here on this blog. The tenth installation below covers how National City Bank expanded their staff education to accommodate employees abroad. Read the ninth installment on how National City Bank built a presence in Europe during World War I, here.
Training graduates for careers overseas
Acknowledging the continuing need for employees with commercial training along British and German lines for its expanding overseas network, National City Bank turned to the universities. It hired 20 graduates in 1915 and rotated them through departments for the first year. They attended three one-hour classes each day, notably in commercial geography, and the history of South America and its social customs. "Under this broadening experience, much of the native provincialism of Americans was dispelled," Number Eight, the staff magazine, reported in 1916. Other subjects in the curriculum were foreign exchange and the language of the country to which the graduates were being sent. After a year, however, the bank found some of the students were deficient in the basics. Elementary courses in penmanship and banking arithmetic were required. According to the staff magazine, the graduates had "awful" penmanship and, despite being able to handle analytic geometry and calculus, "were sometimes very slow in the matter of figuring interest."
Of the original 20 men, 17 graduated. Together with two others who joined half-way through the year, the 19 members of the First College Class were in various regions of the world by late 1916. Ten were working at National City Bank branches in Latin America and five were at branches of the International Banking Corporation in Asia. Three were in New York and one in London.
The success of the first year led to closer cooperation with universities and the recruitment of 42 college men from 24 universities in 1916, including 27 graduates. The rest were second-year students offered three months of training during the summer vacation with the promise of a career after graduation. The Second College Class of 1916 included Howard Sheperd, who would later become president and chairman of the bank.