Earlier this week in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, instructor Carmen Williams kicked off her new BankWork$ class at The Energy Innovation Center. After celebrating 13 new BankWork$ graduates in her most recent summer class, she is excited to welcome more participants to BankWork$ and set them up for success in the financial services industry!
A Pittsburgh native, Carmen is no stranger to the financial services industry; she first began her career as a teller. With 23 years of banking experience, Carmen ended her career in financial services by working at First National Bank for five years. She also has a heart for non-profit work and spent two years of her career as an Administrative Assistant at The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. When Carmen learned about an opportunity to be a Career Navigator for BankWork$ at The Energy Innovation Center, she thought it would be a great mix between her love of banking and non-profit work. In June 2022, Carmen was promoted from Career Navigator to Instructor to lead her first in-person class.
Carmen describes herself as a background dancer. “I like being behind the scenes! However, this year, I had the opportunity to step into a new role as a BankWork$ Instructor, which has been very rewarding. I was nervous to start this new role because I didn’t want to fail my students. On my first day, I asked my students to give me grace because it was my first time, but a week into class, they all thought I was a natural. Because I’ve been in banking so long, when students have questions that go off the daily lessons, I know how to answer them and give them the right resources.”
For Carmen, the highlight of her job is watching her students graduate. “I get weepy every graduation ceremony. We all connect so much during those eight weeks, and it’s such a rewarding experience. I try to teach my students that you can go down many different paths in banking. Even if you find that one role in banking is not for you, you can always come back to a new role that uses your skills differently,” said Carmen.
Carmen’s mentorship often changes her students’ perception of the financial services industry. “On my first day, one woman said, ‘I’ll do anything, but I don’t want to be a teller,’ but after we did the cashbox exercises, she wanted nothing more than to be a teller. Her brother was so confident she would never want to be a teller that he thought I bribed her!”
Carmen is especially proud of graduates whose long-term career goals have guided them since the beginning of class. “One of my students knew she wanted to work somewhere where she could transfer to a different city later, and she’s doing that! She told me from day one that she was moving to North Carolina, and now she finally did it. Another previous student is working at my old bank, and I get to brag about her and her promotions any time I go back to visit.”
We are grateful for Carmen’s leadership, knowledge, and compassion for her students. We can’t wait to see her bring her expertise to many more classes in the future!
The Energy Innovation Center is a Pittsburgh-based non-profit organization with a mission to align workforce development and education. BankWork$ is offered nationally, free of charge to students all across the United States. We at CareerWork$ are proud to partner with The EIC to continue to bring BankWork$ to the greater Pittsburgh community.