Markoff connects community and banking services

Barbara Markoff, MSSW ‘76
Community Affairs Manager, U.S. Bank, Milwaukee

At the end of your two or four years, ask yourself, ‘What did I love the most, and how can I turn what I loved the most into a career for myself?’

While in the master’s program at the School of Social Work, Barbara Markoff helped a classmate lead personal development classes for their peers. Through this experience, she found a passion working in training and development. In addition to having worked as a personnel trainer for a variety of corporations, Markoff has 25 years of independent consulting experience. She has also been a diversity consultant who helped businesses to understand the importance of hiring, training and promoting women and people of color. Now at U.S. Bank, Markoff helps set up relationships between the bank and the community it serves.


Walk us through a typical day in the life at your job.

My job is to make sure the bank is serving the whole community well by doing not only what it is regulated to do but going above and beyond. I spend a lot of time answering questions for colleagues and helping connect people. Bankers may contact me because they want to make contact with a nonprofit that is in their area, and I will connect them to the executive director. Executive directors from nonprofits contact me to ask how they can get funds, sponsorship or volunteers. Another part of my day is going to meetings for committees, such as the housing committee where we make sure people in low-income communities understand how they can get into a first-time home. I set up and create events that serve the community, like seminars. I also represent the bank at events, and have internal meetings to discuss ways we can do better serving the community.


How would you briefly describe the services that your agency provides?

In a nutshell, banks take in deposits and lend money. But more importantly, banks help make dreams come true. If it weren't for banks, people wouldn't have the money to do the things they need to do and want to do, like starting a business, owning a first home or buying a boat.


We do financial literacy training, or financial education. We are constantly out in the community, at schools, shelters and nonprofits, to teach people how to improve credit, establish a credit score, budget and start to save. My job is to make sure that we are in particular offering them to medium- and low-income individuals. The bank also helps support nonprofit organizations by buying tables at their events, or through the bank’s foundation by giving them grants.  We have a whole volunteer force within the bank so a nonprofit can come to us for help. We volunteer at over 50 activities a year to help the community.


Do you have any advice for current students in the School of Social Work to prepare themselves for their future careers?

Make sure you go where your passion is. At the end of your time in school, ask yourself: ‘What did I love the most, and how can I turn what I loved the most into a career for myself?’ Look broadly at your social work training and make note of the broad life skills you gained, and not just at the specific social work skills. Be very aware of the skills you have that could transfer into many different careers, like I did. The best benefit of a social work degree is the flexibility and the range of careers it prepares you for.


Last edited by karnaky on Wednesday, June 10, 2015 | Printer Friendly Version