Mich. CU Helps Graduates Enter World With 'Professional' Makeover

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In sync with the latest "extreme makeover" craze, Michigan State University Federal Credit Union is offering members who are also graduating college seniors a chance at a Real World Professional Makeover, complete with a new hairstyle, clothes and a host of financial planning services.

The promotion was created by Joyce Banish, VP of marketing at MSUFCU, to remind graduating students to think of their credit union for future financial needs.

"We really want to hit home the message that we're here forever," Banish said. "We want to let our graduating seniors know that we can help them make the transition (from student to professional)."

Banish said MSUFCU has been advertising financial makeovers for at least the last decade, but never in this fashion.

"I went to bed one night thinking that it was time we did one for real," she said, adding that she borrowed the idea from major networks shows that transform average Joe's and Jill's into head-turning beauties.

While MSUFCU's Real World Professional Makeover contest includes the physical transformation, the two winners will also get a lot of extra financial products and services to help them make a smoother transition to the professional world.

Each package is valued at $5,000, Banish said. The packages include professional coaching, brief cases, tax filing services and financial planning.

To qualify, graduating seniors must complete an application explaining how they would benefit from the makeover and provide two photos of themselves. To get a $500 bonus, they must also qualify for a MSUFCU Visa card.

"The local business community has been extremely supportive," Banish said. "When they heard about it, they started calling us with offers to help. I think it shows how much the local community is really proud of the success of these kids."

Their participation also reinforces the strong relationship between the community, businesses and the credit union, she said.

The promotion was launched during the Michigan State University's annual Etiquette Dinner with the MSU Alumni Association, sponsored by MSUFCU.

"During the dinner, the graduating seniors are taught about etiquette," Banish said, noting that everything from which fork and knife should be used to whether it's OK to drink during a business meeting is addressed.

The kick-off came when an alumni member was introduced, first as a life-size cutout in typical college student attire-a T-shirt and blue jeans, and then when he appeared live in new "professional" duds and spurts of highlights in his hair.

"Then we talked about the different ways they could be made over, too," she said.

Among the products and services MSUFCU touts for students is "real world" loans for such things as transportation, a new wardrobe and first apartment costs.

MSUFCU with $1.2 billion in assets is the largest university-based credit union in the world with 124,000 members worldwide. Banish said about 75% of the university's graduating seniors are among those members.

The credit union selected the winners on March 30. Plans are set to reveal the winners with their new looks at the University Club on April 22. The event will also be broadcast on Lansing's WB30 network television.

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