BankWork$ Class Observation Video

BankWork$ participants with Career Path Services in South Puget Sound, are entering week seven of their class, and graduation is just around the corner. Our team spoke with current participants about their experience, why they are doing the program, and what they’re most looking forward to about beginning their careers in the financial services industry.

Observing a BankWork$ Class: Success in Action

Hello everyone! My name’s Austin, and I joined CareerWork$ as our Communications and Development Specialist in March! One of my favorite parts of my job is hearing from incredible participants and instructors, and sharing their success stories so others can hear about their great work. 

This week Program Manager Dion Willis and I met with the BankWork$ class at Career Path Services in South Puget Sound. We observed participants in action as they practiced cash handling and dealing with different types of customers, and we heard from guest speakers from Olympia Federal Savings.

In chatting with several participants about their experience with BankWork$, I witnessed firsthand the impact this program is making on their lives. The class brings together participants from all over the world, from Tacoma to Sierra Lione to China, around a shared interest in achieving their career goals. Instruction staff Shelley and Sara teach the skills to succeed in the financial services industry, but each participant brings their own drive, determination, and dedication.  

I look forward to seeing these participants graduate and launch careers in the coming weeks. They are not only the future of the financial services industry, but also a reminder that success can come from anywhere. 

BankWork$ Gave Lisa Baldwin “The Reset She Needed” To Support Her Family and Reach Her Career Goals 

Lisa Baldwin was feeling professionally stuck. In October 2021, she was working full time in a warehouse, but neither that nor her previous roles were helping her achieve her personal goals. While looking for an opportunity to start a new career, she found the Bankwork$® program at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish.

“I saw this program as a chance for a career that wouldn’t lead to another dead-end job. I felt like I could do something with this, that I could go somewhere,” she says. While BankWork$ (and all CareerWork$ programs) are scheduled so participants can work while taking the course, Lisa was so ready for her next step that she quit her job to pursue BankWork$ with all her energy.   

Lisa’s favorite part of being in class was getting to know her instructors and fellow participants: “My instructors were a great support system, and I continue to stay in contact with them.” Her instructors at Seattle YWCA, Tracy Hinman and Melanie Wheeler, noted that Lisa had a strong determination to succeed despite her busy schedule. “Whenever I think about Lisa,” says Tracy, “a smile immediately comes to my face. She has had to overcome many personal challenges, but she bravely chose to use those challenges as her motivation for success, rather than as an excuse for stagnation or failure. Lisa projects positively, kindness, grace, and professionalism. It was truly a blessing having her in class.”  

After completing the BankWork$ program, Lisa connected with local recruiters from BECU at the post-graduation hiring fair. In December 2021, she accepted an offer from BECU and started her job by working in their call center. She describes her new position as a perfect match. “They give me the ability to work from home, which has been amazing for my schedule. I had already been a BECU member for several years and had a great experience with their service, and it has only become better as an employee.”  

In her new position, Lisa is looking forward to learning many different aspects of the banking industry to figure out where she wants to be long-term. “They encourage job shadowing, and I think I want to shadow a couple of different departments. I want to absorb all the knowledge I can, so I can decide which department is best for me.” 

Lisa’s dedication isn’t a surprise to instructor Melanie, who was struck by her drive from the beginning. “Lisa is such a strong woman! She had some clearly set goals for herself and her future, and she remained focused in order to reach those goals. I was so proud and grateful to be able to watch Lisa graduate, begin her new career at BECU, and reach so many of her goals despite so many obstacles that were in her way. She was so much fun to work with, and I hope she knows how proud of her we truly are!” 

As Lisa looks into the future for her career, when she reflects on her time in BankWork$, she encourages anyone thinking about signing up to “take the plunge and go into it with an open mind. I’m thankful for BankWork$, it gave me the reset I needed. We all have our ups and downs and have to reset life a couple of times, and I feel like the stars aligned because everything has worked out perfect with my new position.”  

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

For Jessica Ramirez-Jefferson, BankWork$® Helped Her Be “Part Of a Program That Wants Better For People In The World.” 

Jessica Ramirez-Jefferson never saw herself having the right experience to work in a bank. After many years in the restaurant industry, she thought a banking career was out of reach, even as she wanted the stability that a career in financial services would offer. 

In October 2021, while researching courses to enhance her workforce skills, she found the BankWork$ career-readiness program with our partners in the Bay Area, Fremont Adult and Continuing Education.  She jumped at the chance, and started the free class that fall.  

For Jessica, the most impactful takeaway from BankWork$ was “a greater sense of self-encouragement,” she says. “I learned more about my strengths and weaknesses, and because everyone encouraged each other we quickly became a family. I was so surprised to see myself succeed.” A bi-lingual speaker fluent in English and Spanish, Jessica was particularly impressed by the diversity of her class, and noticed that “within our class, we had people who spoke eight different languages.” 

Her instructor, Michelle Branner, praises Jessica as “a model student. She came to class every day motivated to learn more. Her personal strength not only empowered her, but it also inspired others to achieve greatness. It was a pleasure to have her in class.” 

Like all graduates of a CareerWork$ program, Jessica attended a hiring fair with employer partners in her area immediately after her graduation ceremony. She was hired by Comerica Bank, and in her new role as a Customer Service Representative, she has felt fully equipped to handle her responsibilities. 

Jessica was moved by how much the program and her instructor embraced and accepted her. “It touches my heart that they look for people like me, and gave me that push-up to help me.  That I found the class makes me so grateful. When people care enough to make the world a better place, it’s a beautiful thing.” 

Jessica is thriving in her new career. “I open the bank myself; I do dual control [transactions requiring a greater level of approval], I’m meeting clients, I do it all.” Working with customers with disabilities has been a special highlight for her: “I’ve made great connections with a customer who has a service dog named Molly, who always comes right to my window to greet me!” Jessica looks forward to advancing in her career, and hopes to eventually move into the mortgage and loans department. 

To anyone thinking about signing up for BankWork$, Jessica says “try it out and see if you like it! You won’t know until you try. If you’re ready to find out who you really are, this class will help you get there. It definitely inspired me to go further in my career. I’m so honored to be part of a program that wants better for people in the world.” 

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

CareerWork$ Ready Is “Building Up Confidence For The Whole Family” Says Program Manager, Dion Willis

As Dion Willis celebrates his one-year anniversary as a Program Manager with CareerWork$, he’s looking back at one of the most rewarding parts of his job: helping grow and develop CareerWork$ Ready. “It’s one of those programs that gives you not just the skills and training you need, but the confidence to know that you can do it,” he says.  

CareerWork$ Ready is the newest free job training program offered by CareerWork$ and our Training Partners. The program was created during the COVID-19 pandemic to help individuals struggling with unemployment, but has proven effective even as the labor market has steadied. Designed to serve individuals seeking their first job or those re-entering the workforce, CareerWork$ Ready focuses on both the skills to secure a job, such as a resume writing and interview practice, and the people and communication skills needed to succeed in any role. After completion, participants are prepared to interview for open roles with confidence and a renewed sense of conviction, and instructors help program participants grow professionally through personalized career coaching. 

As a former Career Navigator, Dion has personally observed the CareerWork$ Ready class at Seattle YWCA many times and has witnessed its impact on participants. He says, “I’ve seen many people get jobs from the program. It’s a beautiful thing that people want to stay in touch with me, and talk about the program and what it’s meant to them.”  

Dion tells anyone considering CareerWork$ Ready as the next step in their professional life that “you will be excited to come the next day—you are always learning something new and fresh.” Dion has also witnessed the multi-generational effects the program has on families working from home. “I love that our program means kids are seeing their parents act professionally, dressing differently, and preparing homework assignments, like their 30-second commercials introducing themselves.  We know it’s building up confidence for the whole family.” 

If you’re interested in signing up for CareerWork$ Ready, you can sign up through our website or call 833-296-7554 and we’ll connect you to a training partner closest to your location.   

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As She Grows Her Career at Bank of America, Graduate Jennifer Berg Sees BankWork$ As “Giving People Hope and Opportunity”

Jennifer Berg

When Jennifer Berg first learned about the BankWork$ program with our partners in the Los Angeles area, JVS SoCal, it was at the right time in her personal and career journey. After several years working in retail, Jennifer, a Bay Area native, was looking for a new chapter.

At that time, Jennifer had never thought about a career in financial services. But after reading about our program, she was curious, and after attending an open house information session with JVS SoCal in early 2019, she enrolled in an upcoming class.

During our free, eight-week comprehensive career readiness program, Jennifer commuted 60 miles each day to attend class. But for her, it was worth it.

Jennifer praises Julian Hampton, Associate Director of JVS SoCal and BankWork$ Instructor, for the “phenomenal job” he did conveying the industry-specific portions of the eight-week curriculum. “I really liked the reading material and assignments. The curriculum gave me a real sense of what it would be like to have a career in banking.”

But for her, the “biggest gift” from Julian and the program were the communications and workplace skills the program emphasizes, which can help people grow in any career.

This program “gave us the gift of knowing how to do an interview and to do it properly. Julian coached us, and he helped us be confident. He challenged us to think outside the box and to be better than we were when we started. That is just key for life, no matter what industry you wind up in.”

“Eight weeks later,” Jennifer continues, “there we are, sitting in front of people who wanted to hire us.”

Like graduates of any CareerWork$ career readiness programs, Jennifer attended a hiring fair with our employer partners in her area with roles to fill immediately following her graduation ceremony. She received several offers, and within a month after graduating from BankWork$ she accepted a role with Bank of America as a Client Services Representative. In 2021, Jennifer was promoted to Relationship Banker.

As she continues to thrive and advance in her career in banking, Jennifer says she values the opportunity to help people improve their financial lives.

“BankWork$ is unique in that it gives people hope to turn their lives around and gives them an opportunity. It enriches people’s lives. I never would have considered this career path. But BankWork$ gave me a chance, and then the bank gave me a chance.”

Want to learn more about the BankWork$ with our partners JVS SoCal? Click here.

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CareerWork$® Welcomes Austin Aga As Its Communication and Development Specialist to Bring New Ideas and Communication Tactics to Rapidly Growing Markets.

Today, CareerWork$ announced that Austin Aga has joined the team as its first-ever Communications and Development Specialist to help support its mission to provide free career training programs across the country. Austin plans to bring new ideas and communication tactics to the rapidly growing CareerWork$ markets.

“I want to help bring the inspiring success stories of CareerWork$ graduates to life.”

Austin will be providing key support and insights by communicating directly with training partners, participants, and other team members. He will be generating content to reach the various audiences in markets where CareerWork$ operates, as well as monitoring media coverage to ensure all content stays in line with the correct strategy for their respective markets.

An Oklahoma native, Austin previously worked at the non-profit organization, Infant Crisis Services as a graphic designer. He went on to focus on communication and ran social media content for several companies throughout Oklahoma. He also attended the University of Oklahoma earning a BA in Advertising. 

As a naturally curious person, Austin is always learning about new technologies and industry landscape changes to be proactive for future opportunities. He has a deep understanding of social media content creation and distribution and will ensure all CareerWork$ social media is consistent and engaging. 

In March 2022, CareerWork$ updated its website to increase ease of understanding of its main programs, BankWork$®, CareerWork$ Medical®, and CareerWork$Ready®. Austin will also update the website and ensure its consistency with social media content.

With a heart for non-profit work. Austin hopes to showcase CareerWork$ as a place of acceptance and encouragement. “This role gives me the opportunity to help set talented people up for successful careers, and I get to work with a great team who all have a shared passion for seeing others thrive, and that’s really exciting.”

Outside of work, Austin enjoys watching movies and playing drums. He is looking forward to exploring Seattle and finding the best hiking spots in Washington. He plans on continuing to travel by visiting the various cities CareerWork$ operates to understand the local cultures.

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For BankWork$® Career Navigator Matthew Samaniego, The Priority Is Ensuring Students “Have Everything They Need to Succeed”

Every graduate of any CareerWork$ program knows that what sets us apart isn’t just our industry-specific career training—it’s individual support, and direct connections to local employers looking to hire. While our Instructors bring industry experience and are responsible for leading participants through our eight-week curricula, the person responsible for helping program participants connect directly with employers is each class’s Career Navigator—part of the special sauce that makes CareerWork$ programs have such success with launching their new careers. 

Matthew Samaniego never expected that his own career path would lead to workforce development and career training. But today, Matthew Samaniego speaks passionately about his work as a Career Navigator with our Bay Area partner Fremont Adult & Continuing Education. 

For Matthew, being a Career Navigator means “working with our students one-on-one to make sure they have everything they need to succeed. We are already giving them a great curriculum with our Instructors, so my role is to meet with them individually throughout the program, and to provide that post-class support and ongoing coaching, and help connect them with employers with roles to fill.”  

As he works with participants in the BankWork$ program – as well as those considering it – Matthew emphasizes that “you’re not just getting into a job, but a career. It’s something you can do your whole life, with opportunities to advance at every step.” 

A Bay Area native, Matthew worked in customer service, logistics, and retail before joining our Bay Area partner Fremont Adult & Continuing Education in an administrative role, which he held for nearly two years. When the opportunity opened up to be a Career Navigator with the BankWork$ program, Matthew says he “jumped at the chance.” He was already familiar with BankWork$ and had seen its impact on its students firsthand. 

 Working directly with BankWork$ participants, Matthews says he cherishes the chance to “connect talented people with a real career opportunity that can transform their lives. Seeing our students really blossom into themselves and become these confident people by the end of the course is so impressive and inspiring.” 

Matthew also values building relationships with students during and after the program – and seeing them build relationships with one another. “Each class becomes a bit of a family,” Matthews says, with cohorts staying in touch via WhatsApp to send holiday greetings and celebrate each other’s new roles and promotions in their new careers.  

The COVID-19 pandemic made Matthew’s work more challenging over the past two years—a challenge experienced by all of our Instructors and Career Navigators across the country. But, like all instruction staff, Matthew and his colleagues at FACE adapted, working with CareerWork$® to launch virtual, and then hybrid, BankWork$ classes, along with virtual graduation celebrations and career fairs with employers.  

Today, Matthew loves being back in person with FACE’s BankWork$ students. But he also notes that the challenges posed by the pandemic and virtual instruction “taught us a lot, too. We can include technology skills like remote meeting and incorporate that into our curriculum. We’ve come through it stronger than ever before.”  

“You realize how much it starts to mean to you as well. I keep calling my role a job, but for me, it’s a career and a calling. I look forward to many more years working with CareerWork$.”  

Thank you, Matthew, and all the Career Navigators and Instructors who make our programs around the country so impactful!  To learn more about upcoming BankWork$ classes with Fremont Adult and Continuing Education, click here

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CareerWork$ Medical Seattle to Begin in April 

Handshake Training

CareerWork$, a workforce development nonprofit, is excited to expand our partnership with Career Path Services to operate our CareerWork$ Medical® program in Seattle, opening doors to lasting careers through our free, eight-week career training program. Classes begin April 18, 2022, in the Northgate neighborhood of Seattle.  

CareerWork$ Medical offers participants the necessary skills for any entry-level non-clinical healthcare position with career potential, including appointment schedulers, patient service representatives, patient navigator, medical receptionist, and more. After eight weeks of intensive training, participants attend a combined graduation ceremony and hiring fair to interview for open positions with local employer partners. Graduates also receive ongoing coaching and job placement support.  

CareerWork$ Medical is currently offered in three cities across the United States, with more expected to open in 2022. CareerWork$ Medical was last offered in Seattle in early 2020 before pausing during the pandemic; this relaunch is an exciting opportunity to connect participants eager to start careers with the increased opportunities in healthcare, and connect employers with open roles with talent.  

The class in Seattle runs through early June, with two additional cohorts offered later this year. Classes are three days per week, and this will be a hybrid course, helping students gain experience with digital remote tools. Eligible applicants must be 18 years old or older, have a high school diploma or GED, have English literacy, and six months customer service experience.  Thanks to support from The Sheri & Les Biller Family Foundation, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Urban Research Park, and others, this program is free for all participants.  

Since 2018, CareerWork$ and Career Path Services have partnered to offer BankWork$, a CareerWork$ program advancing careers in banking and financial services, in the South Puget Sound area.  

“We are delighted to expand our partnership with CareerWork$ to Seattle and CareerWork$ Medical, and together bring non-clinical healthcare training to Seattle,” said Cami Eakins, Chief Executive Officer of Career Path Services. “Our shared commitment to empowering people, enhancing the workforce, and enriching communities is a strong foundation for this work.”  

“Working with Career Path Services to relaunch CareerWork$ Medical in Seattle is a natural fit,” said Ranko Fukuda, CareerWork$ Director of Programs. “We are so appreciative of their partnership in South Puget Sound on our BankWork$ program, and are thrilled to bring that partnership to Seattle.  We know there is huge demand for talented, trained individuals looking to launch careers in non-clinical healthcare settings, particularly in this region, and this is really the perfect time to bring our program back—we are hitting the ground running!” 

CareerWork$ is a workforce development nonprofit with the mission of connecting young adults from under-resourced communities to stable, lasting careers through free training, and building partnerships advancing equitable economic stability.   

Are you an employer interested in supporting the CareerWork$ Medical$ program and recruiting great talent to help serve the diverse healthcare needs of your communities? Contact us at info@careerworksmedical.org.  

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CareerWork$® Announces Latoya Edmond As Regional Director to Help Expand Programs and Impact Across U.S. Markets

CareerWork$® announced today that Latoya Edmond has joined its growing team as Regional Director to help expand career training programs and deepen impact in markets across the United States.

CareerWork$ connects young adults from under-resourced communities to lasting, stable careers through free training, and builds supportive partnerships advancing equitable economic stability. CareerWork$ operates two eight-week, industry-specific free career training programs in financial services and non-clinical health care through its BankWork$® and CareerWork$ Medical® , and CareerWork$ Ready programs. The CareerWork$ model teaches industry-specific skills for immediate on-the-job success and the communication and people skills needed to succeed as a professional anywhere, and then provides direct access to employers who are hiring.

CareerWork$ partners with local workforce development and social services organizations to support recruiting, coaching, local fundraising, and employer connections in the communities in which they are based. CareerWork$ provides financial support, proprietary industry-specific curricula, a robust online learning platform, instruction staff training, and ongoing operational program support while engaging employers at every step of the process.

“I’m both honored and excited to join the CareerWork$ team to support under-served communities on a larger scale,” said Latoya. “I believe in the CareerWork$ mission and program model, and I know from first-hand experience the model is effective and impactful. I look forward to expanding the CareerWork$ footprint across the U.S. to increase economic opportunities for those we serve.”

“Latoya joins our team at a pivotal time of expansion for CareerWork$. She brings extensive experience leading workforce development efforts and was a wonderful collaborator and visible leader as our Training Partner at Philadelphia OIC. I am excited to have her on our team so we can lean on her expertise and continue to grow our impact around the country,” said Ranko Fukuda, Director of Programs at CareerWork$.

Latoya joins CareerWork$ as it continues to expands its presence and impact across the country. Today, it operates 16 training programs in 13 markets across the country, and has helped launch more than 4,000 careers nationwide.

A proud Philadelphia native, Latoya brings over 15 years of experience in workforce development. Prior to joining CareerWork$, Latoya served as the Vice President of Workforce Development & Economic Innovation for Philadelphia OIC, a training partner of CareerWork$ BankWork$ program, where she managed over $2.5 million annually in public/private agency grant and contractual funds while overseeing the organization’s workforce development initiatives and partnerships, including the BankWork$ program. She was also responsible for cultivating relationships with donors and employers which allowed her to generate over $3 million in additional funding to support the organizations programs and mission.

In 2021, Latoya was named one of the Philadelphia Business Journal Women of Distinction. She has also been selected as a finalist in the Greater Philadelphia Social Innovations Awards for her work in building innovative partnerships with a cross-sector approach to solving complex social and environmental issues on a large scale.

Latoya also serves as an Advisory Committee Member for the Pennsylvania Bankers Association Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Group, Advisory Board Member for the City of Philadelphia’s Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent Engine, Executive Team member of the Workforce Professionals Alliance, Member of PNC’s Community Development Banking Philadelphia Advisory Council, and is a 2020 Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange alum.

Latoya holds a master’s degree in Management & Leadership and Public Administration from East Stroudsburg University and Certificate in Non-profit Administration from Temple University.

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