|Major: Business Administration|
|Hometown: Rapid River, MI|
Today, Linda Wicklund has decades of experience in banking and a high-ranking position at First Bank Upper Michigan to her name. However, she said she would not be in her current position without the time she spent taking night and weekend classes at Bay College.
Linda graduated from high school at Rapid River Schools in 1982. After graduating, it did not take her long to find work – though she did not enter the banking field immediately.
“I graduated and went to work full-time at Town and Country Motors in the parts department. My father worked in the parts department and offered the job to my brother. But I said ‘what’s wrong with me? I need a job,’” she said.
A few years later, Linda took her first job in the banking industry.
“I went to work at D&N Saving Bank in Escanaba in 1987. I started my banking career as a customer service teller – I opened new accounts, closed accounts, handled deposits and withdrawals, and so on,” she said.
Linda soon learned that she would need to pursue a college education if she wanted to move forward in her career.
“It was at D&N that my branch manager told me I was never going to get advanced without a college degree, whether I could do the work or not,” she said.
She decided to go to Bay College to earn an associate degree, but made one more career move first.
“I left D&N and went to MFC First National Bank – I was hired there as a loan assistant in 1992. They had a college reimbursement program that I took advantage of, and that’s when I went to Bay,” Linda said.
In the fall 1994 semester, Linda began studying at Bay. Since she was still juggling other duties at the time, it took her four years to earn a “two-year” degree.
“Because I worked full-time and had a family at home, I could only attend night and weekend classes. They didn’t have an online program then,” she said.
Even so, Linda found much to like about her time at Bay.
“I enjoyed taking classes there. I love math, so my favorites were my accounting classes with Doug Gavriloff. I learned a lot from him that helped me with my career,” she said, noting she liked those classes so much she nearly switched career paths to become a certified public accountant.
She also found it easy to bond with her fellow students.
“It made for very long days for me back then, but there was a great group of people who took night classes that all had similar stories – working full-time, having families to work around. I met a lot of new friends there,” Linda said.
According to Linda, pursuing a business administration degree was a natural choice, considering her interests and needs.
“Even back when I was in high school, I just loved math and logical thinking. When I had to pick a degree, it was always going to be in the finance arena or in business,” she said.
In the spring of 1998, Linda graduated from Bay with her associate degree in business administration and a certificate in accounting. After graduating, she continued to work at MFC First National Bank for a while, but it wasn’t long before her work situation changed once again.
“In 2000, MFC sold out to Wells Fargo. I was offered a position at First Bank Upper Michigan, where I still work today,” she said.
Linda was hired as a loan assistant at First Bank and was promoted to lender a few years later. She has continued working her way up the ladder; today, she is First Bank’s senior vice president and mortgage manager.
Even now, Linda still uses many of the lessons she learned at Bay on a regular basis.
“What I learned at Bay between business law and accounting has helped me analyze people’s tax returns and finances. That’s very important in lending,” she said.
Along with that, Linda’s experiences interacting with her teachers and peers at Bay have made it easier for her to provide good customer service.
Linda said she still believes high school graduates should seriously consider starting their college education at Bay College.
“I highly recommend it to students to this day. When my nieces and nephews went to college, I said, ‘start at Bay to get your basics,’” she said.