How prioritizing training and mentorship retains talent

As companies compete over the best talent, how do you attract and retain top talent? One approach Discover takes is to attract great people and equip them with the skills to do the job.
November 30, 2023

Attracting and retaining top tech talent is a challenge for most companies. It takes more than good benefits and pay to retain talent: A LinkedIn study found that companies have a nearly 7% higher retention rate at the 3-year mark with employees who have learned skills on the job. At Discover®, on-the-job training and mentorship are key components of how Discover cultivates and nurtures talent from within.

Hear from three different employees about the unique training programs and opportunities they’ve had to develop their careers at Discover.

Mentorship supports movement from college intern to VP of Application Engineering

From day one as a college intern, Jason Burke was assigned a mentor to help him navigate his role. "One of the reasons that I’m still here at Discover today is because of the support system and the tools they provided me," he said.

After his summer internship, Burke joined Discover full time as a developer. He moved into more senior roles, taking on his own projects and eventually leading teams. Discover also supported Burke in going back to school for his master’s degree in computer science.

"I had many pushes from my mentors and my leaders to take advantage of training, technical conferences, and new and challenging roles that would allow me to expand my knowledge," Burke said. "I could not only grow my skills but also contribute to results at Discover. It was a symbiotic relationship and there was a tremendous support system there."

As VP of Engineering, Burke now leads multiple web and mobile development teams, as well as Discover’s customer delivery channels. In his current role, Burke is committed to giving back and mentoring other engineers as they grow their careers. He plays an active role in sponsoring Discover's internship program for developers and recently launched an internal program to help senior developers carve out a clear path to becoming expert-level engineers.

"I lived this journey," he said. "Part of the reason I'm so passionate about these programs is because they opened doors that I didn’t even know were available when I first started. I want to continue to help others access those same opportunities."

New grad program trains the next generation of data scientists

Eric Li joined Discover through the Advanced Analytics Resource Center (AARC) which hires new graduates and gives them hands-on training in data, analytics, and AI (artificial intelligence). Diverse participants from across the United States join Discover’s downtown Chicago office, first completing a training bootcamp and then progressing through various project rotations that give them on-the-job training.

"The opportunity to work on a variety of projects and be able to try out different business areas was very appealing for me as a newly graduated student," said Eric.

After attending the five-week bootcamp that introduced him to different business units and data/analytics practices, Eric did two project rotations: the first in internal audit and the second in reward analytics. His hands-on experience coupled with direction from a performance coach, office hours, and fireside chats gave Eric the skills he needed to join Discover as a data science analyst.

"I found the AARC program to be incredibly helpful as I started my career. I was new to the finance space, so being able to learn through a bootcamp, immediately followed by project rotations where we were able to use our skills to solve real problems was a very rewarding experience," said Eric.

On-site training transforms call center worker into technologist

Maureen Osborne always felt that a job in technology wasn’t achievable because of her lack of formal training. When she learned that the Chatham Tech Hub would give her on-the-job training to bolster her technical skills, she knew this was her chance to have the career in tech she thought was out of reach. She left her job in Discover's operations center and joined the tech hub as an automation apprentice in their robotic process automation program.

After a few weeks of training on automation tools and processes, Maureen partnered with a senior developer to build a real-world automation solution for another team at Discover. She repeated this paired development process with other senior developers, gaining the skills she needed to train bots, write scripts, and configure tools that automate manual processes.

In 11 short months, Maureen graduated from being an apprentice on the team to an associate automation engineer.

"I really appreciate Discover's focus on learning. The managers will support you to learn any new skill or tool that will help you advance your career and will actively remove barriers that keep you from succeeding," said Maureen.

Maureen plans to continue her tech career by completing a degree in computer science, a goal she knows she'll be able to achieve with help from her Discover managers and mentors.

Mentorship, training, and career progression keep employees engaged

As these three stories demonstrate, Discover is passionate about hiring great people and giving them the support and training they need to build careers they love.

"Discover, and the individual leaders and mentors within the company, actively encouraged, pushed, and challenged me to broaden my skills and perspective," Burke said. "That only happens in an organization that prioritizes helping people grow."

© 2023 Discover Financial Services. Opinions are those of the individual author. Unless noted otherwise in this post, Discover is not affiliated with, nor endorsed by, any of the companies mentioned. All trademarks and other intellectual property used or displayed are property of their respective owners