March 12 2024

U.S. Bank’s Rene Madrid gives his all to Step Up

Rene Madrid at U.S. Bank

When Step Up youth participants finish their summer internships under the supervision of Rene Madrid, a vice president and branch manager at U.S. Bank, many don’t want to leave. Equipped with new knowledge, professional skills and confidence, most are a big step closer to a career of their choice. But it’s hard to say goodbye to the person who was such an important mentor - and the colleagues who became your friends.

“We have a diverse team here at our Lake Street branch that speaks multiple languages, and they all love our Step Up interns and are committed to making them part of our team,” Rene explains. “One of our interns from last year misses our staff so much that he still comes back just to visit and hang out! He offered to work at the bank for free because he likes it so much and was learning so much.”

Rene is a person who strives to find meaning in what he does each day. “My job is not just a paycheck for me,” he says. “I grow my business by building relationships. I never had a role model when I was in high school in El Salvador or after I immigrated with my family to the United States, so that’s why it’s so important for me to be a role model for other young people. Witnessing the growth of my interns is my favorite thing about being a supervisor.”

With the Step Up internships U.S. Bank has pledged for this coming summer, the bank will have created 526 internships since 2004. “Welcoming interns fulfills our commitment to giving back and bridging the gap between underserved communities and valuable job opportunities, while also promoting diversity and economic empowerment,” Rene says. Step Up is not only good for Minneapolis youth – it’s also good for his organization. “It’s a high yield investment in the banking industry and the community we love and support.”

Rene shares a story about an intern named Carlos who was very shy at first and didn’t recognize potential in himself. Together, Rene and Carlos turned things around. “I put him in the front lobby to greet every guest that came in the door and ask them how U.S. Bank can help them,” Rene explains. “I gave him access to systems so he could learn and I trusted him to use them.” At the end of his internship, Carlos told Rene, “I see myself working here, sitting in one of these chairs. You empowered me to do more than I thought I was capable of. You gave me tools to explore with curiosity and find my hidden talents.” After completing his Step Up internship, Carlos went on to college.  

Rene is proud to say that he doesn’t just put interns in the corner to do filing jobs. “I sit down with them and talk about their goals and dreams, and together we create a development plan. When these young people walk away from U.S. Bank they hold on to what they’ve learned here and the relationships they’ve built. And they have memories of moving beyond fear to pushing the limits.” Interns make long-lasting friendships and connections at the bank and build a lifetime of connections through the people they meet in the community.

Rene is well-known for his track record of convincing other U.S. Bank branch managers to hire interns. He says when he’s encouraging colleagues to participate in Step Up, he simply focuses on the difference they can make. “It all goes together – community, growing diversity and mentorship – and it makes our bank and our communities better every day.”

Rene also encourages Step Up supervisors to expose their interns to everything possible to expand their learning and future opportunities. “Don’t limit your interns and yourselves,” he says. “Let them show you what they can do. Make them part of your team. They’re not just interns. They have skin in the game and they know their contribution matters.”

“Don’t wait any longer to become involved with Step Up,” is Rene’s message to other businesses and organizations. “You’re missing out on a great opportunity for fresh energy and ideas. There is so much talent out there, and we’re creating our future workforce. We have to invest in talent to get it. And there is so much satisfaction in equipping these young people to be our community’s future leaders.”

Learn more about Step Up and how you can hire an intern for your organization