When Gabriela Martinez first learned about BankWork$ at A New Leaf from her cousin, who was a BankWork$ graduate, she was working as a waitress in Phoenix, Arizona. “As a waitress, I was trying to help my mom with bills, but it wasn’t enough, so I knew I needed a career change,” said Gabriela. She wanted a more stable career to support her family and more fulfillment for herself.
Although her cousin assured her that BankWork$ would help her succeed in financial services, Gabriela was still nervous about beginning class and credits her instructor for helping her feel prepared. With only slight familiarity with cash handling from the food service industry, having a program like BankWork$ in which she learned about both the industry and possible roles helped her understand her professional options and find a path that felt right. “I had no idea what working as a teller would entail, but my instructors taught me so much about the role, and the more I learned, the more I realized it’s what I wanted to do.”
Gabriela feels immense gratitude towards Cheri Foschi and Lorraine Alvarez, BankWork$ staff at A New Leaf, for their encouragement and guidance. “They changed my life forever, but more importantly, they helped me not to think of myself as someone who didn’t deserve respect. I was very insecure as a waitress, and they helped me push through that,” said Gabriela.
“When I did my first mock interview, I felt blindsided by the questions, but the more my instructors coached me, the more I felt confident in my answers. On the day of my actual interview, I was incredibly sure of my responses and felt like I did a great job,” said Gabriela.
Cheri remembers Gabriela as a star student in her class. “She had perfect attendance and has always been goal oriented,” said Cheri. “With a focus on assisting others, she is a natural leader and leads with integrity and sincerity.”
Wells Fargo, a long-time supporter of the BankWork$ program, was hiring tellers for a branch close to Gabriela’s home. After graduating from BankWork$ in September 2021, Gabriela, like all BankWork$ or CareerWork$ Medical graduates, attended a hiring fair with local financial institutions and connected with the Wells Fargo hiring team.
“When I learned how close the Wells Fargo position was to my house, I wanted it so much,” said Gabriela. “A day after my interview with them, they gave me a call and offered me a position. I ecstatically accepted! Now, my coworkers are like one big family to me, and I can’t believe I get to work with them every day.” In her role as a teller at Wells Fargo, she enjoys assisting her customers and providing a positive experience to anyone in her branch.
Gabriela feels thankful for the people in her life who encouraged her to reach for a financial services career with stability and opportunity, including her mother, who has always been her biggest inspiration. “My mother works harder than anyone I know and has given me many opportunities; I want to do my part to give back to her. She gives me the energy to keep going every day.”
Gabriela encourages anyone considering getting into the financial services industry to try BankWork$. “When I was a waitress, I never thought I’d have the kind of career that I do now. I’m much more financially stable, I don’t have to deal with long commutes, and I can give back to my family. No matter your background, with BankWork$, you can find a way to succeed.”