In Lakewood, Washington, just south of Seattle, dynamic duo Instructor Shelley McHugh and Career Navigator Sara Sheldon lead the BankWork$® program with our partners Career Path Services. Shelley and Sara draw on their backgrounds in finance and human services in supporting students before, during, and after our free, eight-week comprehensive training as they learn the skills to thrive in a new career in financial services. For Shelley, that includes a career serving in the United States military and in banking. For Sara, that includes experience working at the Washington State Department of Health & Human Services. For both, the opportunity to support students going through this program is life-changing.
Shelley and Sara believe a key part of the success of the BankWork$ program is that it teaches the industry-specific knowledge and the customer-facing skills needed to succeed and advance in careers: “For our students, BankWork$ is a package deal: it offers both the hard and soft skills they need,” says Sara.
For both Shelley and Sara, working directly with their students and watching them grow during the training is a highlight of their jobs. “Often the person walking in the door is often not the person who walks out of the door,” says Shelley. “It’s so gratifying and exciting to hear from our graduates about milestones like promotions in their new career – and their new babies, too!”
Like so many workforce development organizations around the country, the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic posed unprecedented challenges and barriers to serving their community with the BankWork$ program. But working with our training partners around the country like Sara, Shelley, and Career Path Services, CareerWork$ adapted quickly, making classes virtual and creating virtual graduation celebrations and hiring fairs with local employers.
“We’re grateful we were able to pivot so quickly to virtual learning by using our Learning Management System,” recalls Shelley. “Now, information is at our students’ fingertips. It’s a great tool to help them be even better prepared for being in a bank. We’ve also learned to appreciate the value of being in person.”
When giving advice to students considering BankWork$, Sara emphasizes that participating in BankWork$ is a smart bet for the long term. “It’s an investment that dramatically increases your chances of launching a lasting career in financial services.”
Both Sara and Shelley are characteristically humble when talking about their work together, preferring to keep the spotlight on the graduates and their achievements. “Our graduates always thank us,” Shelley says, “but they did the hard work.”
Career Path Services operates across Washington State, offering programs and services to help individuals and organizations meet their employment goals. Founded in 1971, their mission is to break the spirit of poverty through the dignity of work. They have been voted a top nonprofit to work for eight times in the last decade, and we are proud to partner with them to offer BankWork$ and CareerWork$ Medical.