Our onboarding is another benefit. It is pretty extensive. We put MBAs through new hire onboarding just like a full-time employee. So they do rotations with every part of the leadership team so they understand what every department does and how CommonBond works as a whole. That’s something a lot of interns in a company don’t get exposure to because they are just working, for example, in one department. Here at CommonBond, we put our energy into how the company is structured so they are exposed to the whole businesses.
For full-time employees at CommonBond, we pay a significant portion of health and medical benefits; typically, we go above and beyond. Currently, everyone at CommonBond has equity ownership – so we want people who want not just to receive a paycheck, but people who want to benefit from the future growth of CommonBond. Second, we have unlimited vacation. We allow people to take the time off they need to reset. We have very generous primary and secondary leave – also known as paid maternity and paternity leave. We think it is incredibly important for people to take the time off with their growing family. We offer 12 paid leave weeks for primary care givers (and this covers adoptions as well) and four weeks paid leave for secondary care givers.
We have lots of different wellness benefits. We offer gym memberships, yoga, and benefits like in-house massages. We also practice what we preach and offer student loan reimbursement. For every month you’re here, we provide a certain amount of money towards your student loan to help relieve your burden since that is the whole reason that CommonBond started. Since we have an enterprise function that sells into other businesses, we actually created what we call a ‘401K for Student Loans,’ which creates a platform for other companies to have that kind of reimbursement. We do that internally as well.
We also have catered food twice a week and monthly happy hours. We are a mission-based company – that’s what we’re based off of – and believe in giving back to the community, so we have paid time off to simply volunteer. We also sponsor women’s and LGBTQ focus groups and spend a lot of time focusing on those diversity initiatives.
P&Q: If an MBA was weighing an offer from CommonBond and another firm, what would give you the edge?
KK: Along with everything we discussed, we have a very unique set of full-time benefits.
MBAs are often taking summer internships to learn a new skill – that’s why they’re going to school. At CommonBond, we strive to create a culture of learning and discovery. Most MBAs go back to school to learn something new and expand their network. We provide that experience for them. We’re also very, very transparent in our interview process about what to expect with CommonBond because we don’t want there to be any surprises. Our strengths are our genuine nature; people tend to like us in the interview process. Being so transparent gives us the edge in making the decision to come to CommonBond.
P&Q: Every industry comes with its stereotypes. When it comes to CommonBond – and your industry as a whole – what are some of the biggest misconceptions that students may have?
Being a FinTech company, especially in student loans, I think the biggest misconception is that the only way you’ll get hired full-time as an MBA is if you have finance, FinTech, or student loan experience. We want to bring all the right people into CommonBond to build out our team. I think it is definitely a misconception that it is difficult to get an internship if you don’t have that specific background.
P&Q: What are your expectations for entry level MBAs? What are your most successful new hires doing to hit the ground running and quickly add value?
KK: CommonBond evaluates strong performance and contribution across attitude, ownership and results. In terms of attitude, it is someone who can deal with ambiguity. It is looking around and learning about the process of what is being done, whether it is the business around them or what they are doing. They are not afraid to learn a get to know people. People who have a really strong attitude, in a positive way, who want to work well with others and collaborate are incredibly successful here especially when they are first starting.
The second piece is ownership. They aren’t afraid to take something on. Whether they have seen it done before or not, they’re not afraid to take on that ownership – and they’re not afraid to ask for help, either. We hire people at CommonBond who want to help others. If they have the strong attitude, want the ownership, and like the accountability, we’ll see it in the results. Those people who have those three values are super successful and will have great careers at CommonBond.
As an example, I would go back to Dave Carter, the intern from NYU. In his internship – and to this day – he was able to demonstrate a strong, confident, can-do attitude. Not only for himself, but he was able to bring other people up too. He is a huge culture carrier and someone who is going to be the future of CommonBond. He didn’t have any experience in partnerships and sales, but he built out a function. Turns out, people without specific sales experience can do amazing things. He hired his boss – and had no issues with it – because he wanted to learn. He has a positive attitude and got through to everyone in the company very quickly. He is the perfect example of ownership. He coaches his team up around him and builds up the team underneath him. He is one to celebrate across the team as well.
P&Q: What excites you personally about working for CommonBond?
KK: There is a sense of real ownership here. I came to CommonBond because I wanted to be part of an organization of trust and accountability and really build up this function. In my role in HR, David Klein, our CEO, is so passionate about people and culture. It is so fun to work with him and collaborate on ideas and carry out those ideas. Meeting David is the reason I came to CommonBond. This is a new industry for me. I was in investment banking, AdTech, and now student loans. CommmonBond has exposed me to a new industry that was very appealing.
The reason why I stay here is that we have a community of really helping each other out, whether that’s pitching in or giving recognition to others. It’s something that I love to be a part of. It’s also important to me that we are a mission-driven company. We don’t just say we are a mission-driven company, but we truly live it every day. We do have a higher calling, which I think is very important.
Just today, we were named the Most Innovative Company in Education by Fast Company. I can tell you that the innovation here, whether you’re talking about contributing to our capital markets team, our business development team, tech team, or another group, we always stive to be best in class. We do a lot with a little here and it’s exciting to be part of the organization here.
One of the exciting parts of being at CommonBond is that I get to meet the customers. Obviously, student loans isn’t something that’s nice for them. Still, they go on-and-on about how wonderful our customer service is. We keep customers as the center of everything. That’s what sets up apart and why I love CommonBond.
P&Q: Anything you’d like to add?
KK: I’ll add two things. First we have an annual MBA summer series. It takes place 6-8 weeks over the course of the summer. It is for MBA students to take a look at different career paths. It is an in-person career series here in New York, but it also streams online. That’s something that has been very successful. Even if you’re not an intern or full-time hire at CommonBond, we still provide a ton of resources, tools and events for MBAs to develop your own career strategy.
Second, CommonBond was started by MBA students. It was started by Wharton students who were frustrated and challenged by the loan process. Our CEO, David Klein, actually dropped out of Wharton to start the company. We understand, first-hand, what it is like to be MBA students and we understand the mindset. Even if we don’t have an MBA, we work with tons of MBAs. So there is a huge support system here and culturally we share a lot of similarities with MBAs.