Dreaming of a Career in Financial Services, Rozanna Vakhapova Found BankWork$ and Energized Her Career

Originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, Rozanna Vakhapova immigrated to the United States by herself in 2009. She had dreams of developing a career in the financial services industry. After discovering BankWork$ and meeting instructor Julian Hampton at JVS SoCal, Rozanna knew she had found her pathway to her dream career.  

In September of 2020, after moving to Los Angeles, she signed up for the program. Rozanna says, “I was so excited to get accepted! I loved coming to class every day throughout the winter. My classmates came from all different places in life, but everyone shared a hunger for chasing a career.”   

Upon graduating from BankWork$, all graduates attend a hiring fair with local financial instructions. Rozanna describes the interviewing process as “feeling like a celebrity. I have never experienced getting to do six interviews in one day. BankWork$ had trained me well for all their specific interview questions and I had answers prepared. I felt so confident in my abilities.”  

In February 2021, Rozanna accepted a position with Bank of America, starting as a Relationship Banker. She enjoys all the opportunities working at Bank of America has given her. “Every day I speak to different people. I also get to do many volunteer events through Bank of America. Every Saturday, I go to different foundations, where we teach financial skills to children.  I’m also getting to take classes with my support team. I love working with clients and meeting so many different kinds of people. I remember the location where I first opened my Bank of America account; now I want to make sure all my clients remember me.” Rozanna is now the Relationship Manager Business Owner Specialist, and provides financial expertise for small business clients.  

Rozanna credits BankWork$ Instructor Julian Hampton for being a key figure in shaping her career. “Julian is an amazing mentor. He always knows the words to say to give you perfect life advice. I’m so happy he’s impacted so many people that were not sure about themselves. He taught me to ask questions and be willing to learn.”  

Julian also speaks highly of Rozanna, saying, “Rozanna was a stellar student who consistently yearned for knowledge. As much as I pushed her to be her best, she also pushed me to be my best by asking questions and looking for the reason behind the answer. She would look up articles and videos about the economy and historical events and share them with me. This is what made Rozanna a joy to teach. She has brought the longing for knowledge to Bank of America and used it to advance. I couldn’t be prouder of her.” 

Looking forward to her future, Rozanna is excited to continue to develop relationships and help her clients at Bank of America. Rozanna recently spoke at the last JVS SoCal graduation, congratulating the newest group of graduates. She commends BankWork$ for giving her the drive to pursue excellence. “Bankwork$ taught me to go the extra mile; whether that be calling back a customer, helping my coworkers, or staying focused to achieve a goal, I’m grateful for the skills I’ve learned from my time at BankWork$.”  

To learn more about BankWork$ and our partnership with JVS SoCal, click here.   

Through Hard Work and Humility in BankWork$, Barbara Jimenez Found Success in the Financial Industry 

As a newly single mother just laid off from a retail job in fall 2017, Barbara Jimenez was feeling very discouraged about the future of her career. She was determined to get a position to help support her and her family, and knew stable scheduling, a chance to use her customer service experience, and opportunities for growth—along with a consistent paycheck and full benefits—were priorities. When she discovered BankWork$ in January 2018, she realized the program could be her pathway to success.  

Barbara, a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, applied for instructor Michelle Branner’s inaugural BankWork$ class, then at JVS Bay Area. She faced obstacles from the beginning, when she couldn’t afford the business professional attire required in class—but got a push to go. “That first morning I wanted to go, but I didn’t meet the dress requirements. My mom encouraged me to attend anyway,” says Barbara. “I met Michelle, and she encouraged when I felt like I was completely alone and underprepared. She helped me find a thrift store where I could find professional clothes I could afford.” 

Barbara appreciated the diversity of her classmates, which included a wide range of age, gender, and nationalities: “We had lots of people coming from different countries, and several of them had degrees. I became friends with Sandy, a fellow single mother. We helped encourage each other. By the end of the class, I was giving students rides. All of our stories were different, but our goal was the same—to get a job in this field.”  

Upon graduating, Barbara, like all BankWork$ graduates, interviewed with several different financial institutions looking to hire following a job fair hosted by the program. She felt most connected to Bank of the West, where she accepted a job as Relationship Banker. “I had a great connection with that manager. I knew that I wanted to work with him. He hired me as a banker, and I was so terrified—but excited!” 

Barbara has continued to grow in her career—and has her sights set on even more growth. “Now, years later, I’m the Senior Relationship Banker, and we’ve been meeting our goals. I’m proud of myself. When I first got hired, I read everything. I learned how to process everything. I felt like I knew a lot more than some of the older bankers did. For example, I learned how to process international clients. My managers have told me that I’m going to be a manager someday. I know I’m not ready yet, because I still have some growing to do, but I’m excited to go down that path.”  

Barbara is thankful for the support of her instructors and the skills she learned in class. “BankWork$ helped give me the confidence to walk into a bank and know all my abilities. The banking side of things was just a little bit of it. Michelle taught me how to put numbers on my resume, stand out as a candidate, and negotiate a counter-offer. She is just phenomenal; she talks like your mother, sister, or friend. She gets to know you on a personal level. She gets to know your good and your bad. She will say things like, ‘this may not work for you, because you’re better than that and you should do this other opportunity.’ Michelle is a truly special and unique woman.” 

Michelle, who is now the BankWork$ instructor at Fremont Adult and Continuing Education (FACE) also spoke highly of Barbara, saying, “Barbara was the first person I interviewed at BankWork$. I saw her potential from the first day I met her. She was eager to start a career in banking. She showed up every day with enthusiasm and a willingness to help others to learn. All of her hard work has paid off and now she’s been in banking for almost five years. I am so proud of her accomplishments.”  

When Barbara reflects on her time with BankWork$ and her life situation prior to applying, her advice to anyone in a similar situation is clear. “It took a lot of guts for me to apply, but I knew I had people counting on me. Good people want to help you. Programs like this are flexible and understanding, and want to help you become a better version of yourself. Be honest about your situation, I know that’s what I needed to do.” Barbara excels in perseverance and her willingness to learn; throughout her career, her success will only continue to grow. 

To learn more about BankWork$ and our partnership with FACE, click here.