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Is “achoo” a word? And what’s the origin of saying “God bless you” after a sneeze?

Every sneeze has a different ring to it, but there are only a few words in English that name the sound. Achoo is the most favored.

This instance of onomatopoeia imitates the sound of sneezing. The first syllable mimics the quick intake of breath, while the second corresponds to the tone of the convulsive expulsion of air through the nose and mouth. “Achoo” is also considered an interjection, in the same class of words as “ouch” or “gosh.” (What are ”gosh,” “golly,” and “gee” short for? They all pertain to religion. Click here for the answer.)

Other languages follow the same approach. A sneeze sound in Russian is apchkhi; in Korean it is achee.

In the medical world, ACHOO is an acronym for a sternutation disorder called Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helioophthalmic Outburst Syndrome that results in uncontrollable sneezing.

After a sneeze, there are a few common responses. “God bless you” (or “bless you”) and “gesundheit” are two. Gesundheit is German for “healthiness.”

As for the origin of “God bless you,” there are a number of ideas. There are superstitious beliefs that connect evil to sneezing, such as the thought that a sneeze releases a soul to the waiting grasp of evil spirits. Hence, a blessing is needed.

(People often end a blessing (or prayer) by saying “amen.” What does this common word literally mean? Here’s the answer.)

A false belief that originated during the Renaissance dictates that a sneeze causes the heart to momentarily stop. The blessing was a brief prayer that the heart would not fail completely.

There are numerous other tales that have to do with sneezing. For example, one folk saying asserts a sneeze means that someone is thinking amorously about you. What sneeze myths do you know about?

CU management-trainee programs. (credit union)

Credit Union Executive July 1, 1996 | Mink, Mary College graduates want jobs in their field that pay adequately and offer the possibility of advancement. Some look to credit unions because as students they helped run their student credit unions. Or they held part-time jobs in credit unions while in school.

A handful of credit unions see wisdom in keeping such talent within the credit union movement. They give college students and graduates jobs that require people with management potential.

For example, in 1993 Tim Mislansky, fresh from college, became a management trainee at the $80 million asset Chaco Credit Union in Hamilton, Ohio. As a student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, he had been vice president of operations and later chairman of the board of First Miami Student Credit Union, assets $1.1 million.

As a management trainee, he completed several complex projects for Chaco, including researching and recommending vendors; creating a credit card product; researching and recommending a buyer for Chaco’s student loan portfolio and implementing a referral system; and designing a member education center, which included an electronic services training area. web site chaco credit union

Today, Mislansky is Chaco’s vice president of finance and administration.

Other credit unions have a tiered system that begins with college internships. Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union in Tampa, Fla., has a college internship program from which it selects lending and management trainees. For several years it has selected eight to 15 college students for its summer internship program, says Ken Spence, vice president of human resources and development for the $1.3 billion asset credit union.

“We have been successful over the years at retaining some college students after they graduate,” Spence says.

Spence recently hired a former intern as a loan officer trainee. After three to six months in the training program, the employee will become a loan officer. Or, if all those positions are filled, the employee will go into another area, Spence says. go to web site chaco credit union

College students and recent graduates occasionally apply for entry-level jobs, Spence says. They’re willing to work in entry-level positions – in the mail room, the file room, or on the teller line – until a higher position in the credit union opens.

Graduates are more realistic today. “The employment market has a lot to do with it,” Spence says. “More people understand they are going to have to start at the bottom. I have four-year graduates coming into clerical jobs because there just aren’t that many higher level jobs.” They take a job just to get a paycheck and benefits, he says.

To recruit college graduates, Spence and another credit union employee also attend job fairs and publicize openings at the placement offices at St. Leo College in San Antonio; and University of South Florida, Florida College, and Hillsborough Community College, all in Tampa.

Spence tells students to get a list of area credit unions and personally visit each with a resume. “I tell them to ask to see the manager or the human resource director. If that doesn’t work, I recommend they get an appointment,” Spence says.

Mission Federal Credit Union in San Diego, with assets of $680 million, doesn’t have a formal internship or management-trainee program. Still, recent college graduates have landed jobs there as assistant branch managers, department managers, and occasionally branch managers, says Elaine Ziegler, senior vice president of human resources.

That’s despite the fact that in California, the job market is tight. The unemployment rate is high, and there’s a glut of college graduates. “You hear stories of people with doctorates waiting tables in San Diego,” Ziegler says.

Also, bank closings and mergers have caused college graduates to give up on the industry. “College graduates come out and say, ‘Financial industry? Forget it. I’m never going to get a job there,’ “Ziegler says.

What’s the solution? “I would like to see CUNA, the leagues, and credit unions get the word out that credit unions are dynamic places to work, that there are credit unions large enough where people with degrees and advanced degrees can move up in the ranks,” Ziegler says.

Many credit unions function like Mission Federal, without a formal management-trainee program. That may change soon. CUNA & Affiliates recently established a task force to address the problem of poor retention in the movement of graduates with student credit union experience.

Also, the National Council of College Student Credit Unions, working with the CUNA Human Resource Council, is developing a model management-trainee program for credit unions. Adaptable to credit unions’ individual needs, it will be based on current programs in use at credit unions.

Mary Mink is assistant editor of Credit Union Executive. She can be reached at (608) 231-4989.

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