Celebrating its one-hundredth graduation since its launch in 2006, JVS SoCal’s BankWork$ program proudly graduated ten more students, motivated and ready to start their banking careers after completing eight weeks of intensive training. They were showcased at the BankWork$ 100th graduation at our West Los Angeles Job Center. They quickly began interviewing with our banking and credit union partners on their way to long and successful careers in banking.
The BankWork$ program is free to qualified applicants, where they learn industry fundamentals such as sales and customer service, cash handling, banking and lending product knowledge, basic accounting, and more. It also guarantees that upon completion, the graduates will interview with partner employers like Wells Fargo, Banc of California, Bank of America, First Citizens Bank, Citizens Business Bank, Bank of the West, and Pacific Western Bank, who were all in attendance at this milestone graduation.
Participants’ backgrounds and aspirations are as diverse as the population in LA county as they look to enter an industry that has offered previous graduates the opportunity to grow and find promotion in financial institutions.
Gerardo Orta, for example, played college sports and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Criminology from the University of Tennessee. But, after working in law enforcement and the energy industry, he decided it was time for a career change.
“Within BankWork$, I’m able to learn and utilize resources to be great in the banking industry. We have a lot of mentors and coaches that can teach us, and I absorb that,” said Orta. “They taught me a lot. I love the banking industry and plan to utilize every skill that BankWork$ has taught me.”
In Pooja Dissannayke’s case, BankWork$ brought her the confidence and career goals she was looking for and needed to succeed, even though she has a Bachelor’s Degree in Children’s Education and worked in the retail and health industries. All it took for her was to follow her mother’s advice, a BankWork$ graduate herself!
“I was really confused about what to do in my future, but I got inspiration from my mom. She joined BankWork$, and now she works at a bank she loves. I think BankWork$ has impacted my life in a positive way because you learn about yourself, you learn about confidence, and you learn how it can help you in the real world,” adds Pooja.
BankWork$ could only help its participants with the tremendous partnership of our banking employers and sponsors. These include a wide range of institutions from the financial sector: Bank of America, Banc of California, Wells Fargo, Bank of the West, City National Bank, First Citizens Bank, Comerica Bank, Citizens Business Bank, HomeStreet Bank, Pacific Western Bank, Pacific Premier Bank, Union Bank, Umpqua Bank, JPM Chase, and US Bank, among others.
This program requires the philanthropic support we receive from other vital partners, like the Pfaffinger Foundation, The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation, the JVS SoCal Women’s Leadership Network, the Western Union Foundation, Armanino, and the Western Bankers Association. As a result, our participants are launching careers in new and exciting ways that will help them support themselves and their families, often as the first in their families to work in financial services.
After working in the cellphone industry and as an employee at her family’s mini market, Veronica Zuniga found in the program the tools that could land her in the banking industry and traits that have improved her personality during the eight weeks of training.
“I’m very happy that I joined this program because it helped me a lot in my personality, knowing and understanding how important customer service is, how to meet a customer’s needs, listening and being able to help someone,” said Zuniga, who is already using what she learned in the family business.
The graduation ceremony was a first for JVS SoCal’s new CEO, Jeff Carr, who addressed the graduates in our first in-person ceremony in three years. In addition, he thanked the BankWork$ partners, who were on-site to interview graduates for jobs at their institutions. We couldn’t be more pleased for our graduates, partners, and, more broadly, for the impact, we collectively have on the Los Angles and Southern California economy and the lives of those we serve.