If you’ve been to the Spirit Bear lounge on the Abbotsford campus recently, you would have noticed a pop-up booth decorated in blue and yellow. Behind its counter is a staff of friendly, smiling faces ready to help students learn more about managing their finances.
RBC On Campus is a new initiative designed to provide financial literacy and career advice to students. But that’s only the on the surface of the work RBC has been doing for the UFV community.
“Advisors create value for students, enhancing their experience on campus and providing knowledge they need,” says Harman Rathore, manager, and advisor for RBC On Campus. “A ‘more-than-money’ approach focuses on working with UFV to support, engage, and empower students through their time in university, preparing them for current and future success in our community.”
Rathore is not unfamiliar with the challenges faced by university students. He graduated from the UFV Bachelor of Business Administration program in 2014 and is one of UFV’s many alumni who started with us at UFV facilities in Chandigarh, India.
After completing three years of studies in Chandigarh, he decided to finish his bachelor’s degree at UFV’s Abbotsford .
“Coming to Canada in 2013 as an international student was very exciting and challenging at the same time,” he continues. “I loved UFV’s small classroom size and student engagement events. As a new student, it really helped me to create valuable connections with professors, fellow students and UFV community.”
Rathore wasn’t always in the position to support the community through banking.
“When I got here, the rules were different,” he says. “I could not work for the first semester. You could only work on campus if you could find a job.”
He was unable to find a job on campus, so a friend eventually referred him to working in a gas station. From there he went on to working for Sears before getting on with a bank. Because it was only part time, he moved on after graduation to be a manager at a car rental company.
“It feels very rewarding to help students with their financial journeys. Financial stress is one of the biggest stresses a student can have while they balance their studies and work.” — Harman Rathore
“I went through the management training and became a branch manager for three years,” he says.
During this time, he was working several jobs, busying himself with banking and managing.
“It was around 60 hours a week! I stayed at TD because I wanted to keep getting experience in banking. Then finally in 2018 I made the switch to full time banking and decided to go with RBC.”
Being familiar with the community has helped Rathore grasp what UFV’s current students need.
“It feels very rewarding to help students with their financial journeys. Financial stress is one of the biggest stresses a student can have while they balance their studies and work,” says Rathore. “As I reflect on my own financial journey of being an international student, I can appreciate the challenges that our students face. It also motivates me and my team to take on these opportunities to make a difference.”
Since opening, Rathore and his team have helped numerous students with their financial challenges but have also been working hard to partner on events and other opportunities on campus.
“We recently hosted three in-class workshops for BUS 227 students in Feb about startup businesses and entrepreneurship,” says Rathore. “We are planning to facilitate more of these in-class workshops in collaborations with other UFV departments.”
Some of the upcoming contributions include taking part in STEP Café events with UFV International, and cultural diversity celebrations such as Holi.
Overall, Rathore has been proud to give back to the community that he joined when he came to Canada from Fraser Valley India, where students can take UFV programs.
“I have had strong ties in the past with the UFV International & Centre for Career Education and department as an Alum,” he says. “But after joining RBC On Campus, I have been able to build on those connections to create new friendships/partnerships with student bodies such SUS, Student Life and Alumni Relations.”
The support he’s received at UFV has been great. As he continues to grow the presence and involvement of RBC On Campus, he has been thankful for the welcome his team has received so far.
“I really want to thank UFV leadership team, communications team, and all the associations and departments for such a warm welcome to RBC On Campus,” Rathore says. “We appreciate our partnership and look forward to creating more impact for UFV students.”
To learn more about the student impact of RBC On Campus, check out the UFV Today blog for a story about Harman and several students who have been helped by the program.