From Tragedy to Triumph: Sabrina Green’s Journey to Success in Financial Services 

In 2011, Sabrina Green put her career on the backburner, after the birth of her daughter, to support her growing family. However, Sabrina’s life took an unexpected, tragic turn when her daughter passed away suddenly at ten years old. While navigating through tremendous grief, Sabrina learned to believe in herself and pick up the pieces of her life, and after graduating from BankWork$ at Philadelphia OIC in 2021, she now works as a Personal Banker at Santander Bank.

“When my daughter passed away, I wanted to give up, but I knew I couldn’t,” said Sabrina. “I knew I had to do something to restart my life. I had a few retail jobs, but I didn’t know what I could find without having professional experience. I looked online for free programs, which is where I found BankWork$ at Philly OIC.”  

At 30 years old, Sabrina started the BankWork$ program in September 2021 and graduated in December. Although she didn’t know what to expect when she first started, she enjoyed the process of dressing professionally, which made her begin to change her mood in a more positive direction. Sabrina found learning the information in BankWork$ a breeze, while she gained a sense of confidence, and formed bonds with people from different ethnicities. 

Sabrina was heavily inspired to be like her instructor, Shantelle Faision, who impacted her life significantly. Shantelle also worked at Santander Bank in the past and continues to provide assistance to Sabrina to this day. “I don’t know how I would have succeeded without Shantelle’s guidance,” said Sabrina.

On graduation day, Sabrina met with local companies hiring for financial services roles. She interviewed with five different banks and got more confident in her abilities after each interview. Although she got several different offers, including a supervisor position, she chose Santander Bank due to feeling a strong connection.

Sabrina began her career at Santander in December 2021 as a full-time teller. In this role, she warmly greeted customers and efficiently managed various day-to-day responsibilities. Due to her exceptional work ethic and outstanding customer service skills, Sabrina was recognized as the top performer at her branch in 2022. Recognizing her talent and dedication, she was promoted to the position of Personal Banker in February 2023. As a Personal Banker, Sabrina now focuses on strengthening client relationships and establishing a strong rapport with them.

Sabrina is thrilled to have a career and be able to provide for her family. “I didn’t grow up in a great neighborhood, and it’s awesome to be in a career where I can always have opportunities to grow. I’m able to send my kids to private school, and it’s so rewarding to be able to support my family,” she said. “Without this program, I have no idea where my life would be and I’m so grateful for all it has given me.” 

Learn more about BankWork$ at Philadelphia OIC. 

From BankWork$ to Banker: Nicole’s Journey of Providing for Her Family

Throughout her career, Nicole Zayas struggled with her confidence and felt overlooked. After working as a delivery driver in the Phoenix, Arizona heat, she wanted to explore new career paths that could offer her a sense of purpose and fulfillment. In August 2022, while looking for opportunities online, Nicole discovered BankWork$, a free banking career readiness program offered by A New Leaf. She decided to enroll and set her sights on a career in banking. 

For Nicole, it was important to find a career where she could still be present for her family. “Growing up, my dad always worked twelve-hour weekdays and did military stuff on the weekends. He was always gone and working,” said Nicole. “I wanted a career where my work-life balance would not only benefit my own well-being but also enable me to be there for my family.” 

Nicole was initially apprehensive about starting a program where she did not know anyone, but she soon made friends and received ample support. “I met several classmates that I quickly got close with, and we all supported each other. When I experienced car trouble after class one day, my instructors and classmates went out of their way to make sure I got home safely.” 

“BankWork$ prepared me,” Nicole said, reflecting on her experience in the program. Thanks to the guidance and training provided by her instructors, Nicole was able to develop a deeper understanding of what it truly means to conduct herself professionally. “There were so many things that I thought were professional behaviors that I now know are unprofessional. I learned how important it is to not lose your head, and be able to assist anybody who comes in the room,” said Nicole. 

After graduating, Nicole, like all BankWork$ graduates, interviewed with local financial institutions at a hiring fair. “On graduation day, I dressed up as best as I could, and my entire family was able to come and see me graduate. It was really special,” said Nicole. “My son was three at the time, and he came running up to me afterward saying, ‘Mommy, I’m so proud of you!’ If you’ve ever heard a three-year-old say that, you know it’s the best feeling in the world.” 

At the hiring fair, Nicole felt a strong connection with a recruiter from BMO Harris. After completing the interview process, she was hired by BMO and now works as an Associate Banker. She loves helping customers, processing transactions, and recommending services to them. 

For Nicole, being able to provide for her family and set a positive example for her kids is bringing her so much joy. “With this job, we can afford the things we need and even some extras. I cherish the time I get to spend with my husband and children, and with one more on the way, this job allows me to be there for them. It fills me with so much joy to work hard and then come home to my beautiful family.” 

Click here to learn more about BankWork$ at A New Leaf. 

How Yesenia Delgado Found Her Place in the Banking Industry 

After graduating from high school in Milwaukee, Yesenia Delgado was going through a difficult time in her personal life. With a desire to work in financial services, she struggled to find any opportunities. After discovering an ad for BankWork$ at Employ Milwaukee on Facebook, Yesenia knew she was on the path to achieving her dream.  “I always had this goal of wanting to work at a bank, but I thought it would require a college degree, but it turns out I was wrong. After I applied for BankWork$, I got a call, and the next thing I knew, I was there doing assessments and an interview,” recalls Yesenia.

For Yesenia, BankWork$ was nothing short of life-changing. She joined the program in April 2022 and graduated that June. Despite the program’s intensity at times, Yesenia was optimistic about her experience and full of praise for the program’s instructors, Adriene Wright and Oscar Delgado. “I gained a lot more positivity. I tend to doubt myself a lot regarding things like this, but Adriene and Oscar helped me develop my skills to become a more confident person,” said Yesenia.

After completing the program, BMO hired Yesenia as a Relationship Banker, where she loves helping customers and impacting her community. When asked what drew her to the banking industry, Yesenia stated, “I’m passionate about helping the Hispanic community develop financial skills. As young adults, we don’t get taught a lot about our finances, even in schools, and I felt it was important for me to teach them to be more knowledgeable. I love that I get the opportunity to help customers and be involved with my community. It’s not just a job for me. It’s a passion.”  

Adriene Wright, the BankWork$ instructor at Employ Milwaukee, was impressed with Yesenia’s attitude toward learning. “Yesenia was a pleasure to have in the classroom. She was the confident supporting voice in the room for everyone, a leader who always volunteered and assisted others. We knew that she would be an asset to any company she would join by bringing seasoned experience, a passion for helping others, a willingness to learn, and determination to succeed,” said Adriene.   

Yesenia said about her experience with BankWork$, “it’s a lot of knowledge to take in within eight weeks. It can be stressful at times, but you already know that on the other side is a successful life and career.”  

Click here to learn more about BankWork$ at Employ Milwaukee. 

How Bincy Babu Found Success Through CareerWork$ Ready

Upon relocating from India to Seattle, Washington, Bincy Babu, MBA faced the challenge of starting anew in a different country. While looking for new opportunities, Bincy discovered CareerWork$ Ready, is a free job readiness program created to help participants, offered at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish. During her time in class, Bincy developed her skills, built her confidence, and pursued her dreams.

“I would encourage anyone struggling to begin their career to sign up for this program,” said Bincy. “The training sessions and curriculum provided me with the support, resources, a strong resume, and connections that helped me navigate the challenges that held me back from restarting my career. I will always cherish the positive impact it had on my life. I believe that you should bloom where you are planted, and anyone can accomplish their goals.”

Today, Bincy is proud to be a Lead Operations Associate, managing daily operations and delivering excellent customer service. Bincy believes every day is a new opportunity for growth and learning, and she is excited to meet and help new people.

If your organization is interested in helping individuals like Bincy to advance in their careers, consider partnering with us to deliver CareerWork$ Ready. Please get in touch with us to learn more about this opportunity.

Banking on Success: Motunrayo’s Story of Determination and Advancement in the Financial Services Industry 

Motunrayo Oladeinde has always been passionate about financial services and helping others. In 2018, he moved from Nigeria to Philadelphia to advance his career in the financial services industry. He discovered BankWork$ at Philadelphia OIC, and quickly applied for the program, impressing his instructor, Shantelle Faison, with his dedication and hard work. After graduating in 2018, Motunrayo started with Santander Bank as a Teller and eventually worked his way up to Branch Operation Manager. 

“Shantelle was a great help in making me feel confident about the program. I had no idea that she would become my instructor!” Motunrayo said. “During class, she was always willing to go the extra mile to ensure that I understood the material and could succeed. She was more than an instructor; she was a mentor. She’s someone people like me need.” 

Shantelle was impressed by Motunrayo’s dedication and hard work throughout the program. She noted his strong work ethic and eagerness to learn. “Motunrayo is very passionate about his financial career,” said Shantelle. “He is a very humble and grateful-spirited person, and it was an honor to have him in the program.”  

After graduating from BankWork$, Motunrayo was contacted by a recruiter from Santander Bank for an interview. He was impressed by the bank’s commitment to providing excellent customer service and its focus on helping the community. A week after his interview, he received the good news that he was hired.   

“My wife and children are still in Nigeria, and I desperately needed a job to take care of my family, so I couldn’t sleep that night when they said congratulations. My heart was filled with so much joy,” said Motunrayo. “At the end of BankWork$, I knew that something good was on the horizon, and Santander Bank hired me soon after graduation. I’ve been with them ever since.”  

In 2019, he started as a Teller at Santander Bank, helping with deposits and cash withdrawals. He eventually moved on to work as an ATM Custodian, and in 2020 he was promoted to Branch Operation Manager.   

Motunrayo believes that BankWork$ is an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to start a career in the financial services industry. He encourages others to take advantage of the program and says, “BankWork$ gave me the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in this industry. It also gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams. It’s a great investment in yourself. I can’t thank Shantelle enough for what she’s done for me.” 

“It’s been a great joy for me that my dreams are coming true,” Motunrayo said. “Remain focused. Don’t do what others are doing. Make a plan for yourself. When you have a plan for yourself, you know what to pursue. I knew I wanted to work in a bank, and now I’m here. I’m so lucky that I love what I’m doing.”   

Click here to learn more about BankWork$ at Philadelphia OIC or to sign up for an upcoming class.   

BankWork$ Opened Up Many Doors in Omar Almallak’s Career, Ultimately Bringing Him to His Dream Role at Dollar Bank

For Omar Almallak, immigrating to the United States from Iraq was intimidating, not only because of his lack of English but because he had no career experience. In January 2021, after working odd jobs for a year, he discovered BankWork$ at the Energy Innovation Center with Partner4Work in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“When I first moved to the United States from Iraq in 2020, I knew very little English, and it was so hard to communicate with people. My sister and I moved to be closer to my dad, but I knew I would need to find a job quickly. I was doing odd jobs for six months when I discovered BankWork$. The program was exactly what I was looking for, and I couldn’t believe my luck,” said Omar.  

Omar studied accounting in Iraq and knew he was very skilled at math, but learning English was far more of a challenge. While enrolled in the class, he would practice English at night and take the course during the day.  

“When I started BankWork$, I was so worried about my accent; it’s quite different than how people talk in Pittsburgh,” said Omar. “However, I was surprised to see many other cultures represented in my class! We had people with many different accents and languages. My instructor, Tanya Bashor, taught me how to talk to others professionally and even invited me to meet her family for dinner to learn U.S. customs.”  

After graduating from BankWork$ in March 2021, Omar interviewed with Dollar Bank and First Commonwealth Bank and got offers from both. However, he chose Dollar Bank because it is closer to his home. Currently, he works as a Senior Operations Analyst and is preparing for his upcoming promotion to Wire Transfer Supervisor. 

Omar describes his current role as “behind the scenes.” He prefers helping customers without needing to speak face to face. “In my role, I process wire transfers and help customers on the phone. This spring, when I finish training, I will be promoted to Wire Transfer Supervisor and help lead others,” said Omar.  

Omar highly recommends BankWork$ to anyone considering applying. “My friends always ask me how I got to my job, and I tell them about this program,” said Omar. “It helped me get my job and improve my professional skills. I’m grateful for all the doors it has opened in my life. Last month, I bought my dream car with the earnings I made from Dollar Bank. None of this would have been possible without BankWork$, and I can’t recommend it enough.”  

Click here to learn more about BankWork$ at the Energy Innovation Center or to sign up for an upcoming class.

For AJ Schwerdtfeger, BankWork$ Jumpstarted a Career in Financial Services That Led Him to Bank of America

To AJ Schwerdtfeger, a career in banking always felt like a pipe dream. After helping run his father’s business in Wisconsin for years, AJ moved to Arizona in 2021 for a fresh start. Despite his desire for a career in financial services, without previous relevant experience, he struggled to find an opportunity. While working as a pool cleaner in the summer of 2021, AJ discovered BankWork$ at A New Leaf in Phoenix, Arizona. Today, AJ has been at Bank of America for over a year and enjoys helping customers every day.  

“During my time cleaning pools, I was desperate to find a career at a bank,” said AJ. “I found BankWork$ on Indeed and instantly applied. After I got accepted, my managers allowed me to adjust my pool schedule so I could take the program. They knew how much I wanted this opportunity, and I’m grateful for their support.”  

Lorraine Alvarez, Business Services Supervisor at A New Leaf, first met AJ when he applied for BankWork$. “AJ was a role model student in Instructor Cheri Foschi’s class,” said Lorraine. “I asked him why he wanted to leave the family business, and his reply was, ‘look at my hands; the pool chemicals are damaging my hands. I can’t do this anymore.’ He always arrived to class early and didn’t miss a single day, earning him the Perfect Attendance Award. He started out as a timid young man during the first week of class, but was leading group activities by week six,” said Lorraine. 

“Before starting BankWork$, I kept to myself a lot,” said AJ. “I didn’t talk to people all that much and preferred to blend into the background. Now, I talk to people on the phone daily. It’s crazy for me to remember that wasn’t always the case. Joining Cheri’s class was one of the best decisions I ever made because it jumpstarted my career in financial services. She taught me how to break out of my shell and become a more confident speaker. We still keep in touch today, and I’m grateful for her guidance and advice.”    

After graduating from BankWork$ in November 2021, AJ interviewed with multiple financial institutions in Phoenix. Soon after his graduation ceremony, he enthusiastically accepted an offer from Bank of America for a General Distributions Representative role. In November 2022, AJ was promoted to Distribution Escalations Specialist. 

His daily responsibilities include moving money between accounts, helping with paperwork, and talking with customers on the phone. “Sometimes people are frustrated or upset with their financial situations, and I enjoy helping walk them through solutions to their problems,” said AJ. “At Bank of America, we’re always trying to figure out how things could improve, and I’ve always loved helping people—so it’s a great fit. I can’t wait to continue my career here for a long time.”  

To learn more about BankWork$ at A New Leaf, click here to watch our interview with staff and previous participants.

Click here to learn more about BankWork$ at A New Leaf or to sign up for an upcoming class.

Brett Moore Has a Rewarding Career at Vectra Bank—Thanks to BankWork$ 

Brett Moore was sure that a career in financial services was right around the corner after graduating college with an economics degree. However, he struggled to get interviews due to his lack of banking experience. After searching Indeed for job opportunities, Brett discovered BankWork$ at Goodwill of Colorado in Denver, Colorado. With only a few days until classes started, Brett quickly applied. Now, five years after graduating from BankWork$, Brett is a Branch Service Manager at Vectra Bank, where he oversees tellers and helps customers daily. “Signing up for that class started my career as a whole. I have no idea where I’d be without it,” said Brett.  

When Brett started BankWork$ in October 2017, he was in Instructor Candice Sporhase-White’s class. The professional environment of the program was a new but positive experience. “When I was in college, everything was on beach time,” said Brett. “Candice’s class was much more structured; she would call people out who weren’t actively listening, which helped me pay close attention. She didn’t want us to make careless mistakes.”  

For Brett, financial skills came naturally, but professional social skills were a greater personal challenge. “Candice taught me how to interview correctly. I used to answer questions immediately without thinking of a good response, but now I’m much better. While I was initially attracted to the career potential this class provided, I’m thankful for the social skills it taught me. We did weeks of interview practices, social skill lessons, and training exercises. Without BankWork$, I don’t know how I would have sold myself to convince people to hire me,” said Brett.  

After graduating from BankWork$ in December 2017, Brett, like all BankWork$ graduates, interviewed with local financial instructions (all BankWork$ graduates are guaranteed interviews with each employer partner). Shortly after graduating, he accepted an offer from Vectra Bank for a junior teller position. “My family was thrilled to see me get hired so quickly!” said Brett. Currently, he trains new tellers and helps clients with various financial services issues. His favorite aspect of his career is feeling like part of a community where everyone wants each other to succeed.  

Kelly Hargrove, a current Manager and Banking Instructor for BankWork$ at Goodwill of Colorado, was inspired by Brett’s story and has invited him to speak at several events to offer advice to current participants. “From the first moment Brett reached out to me, he was eager to share the huge impact the program had on him and how it helped him get a career with Vectra Bank,” said Kelly. “Brett has generously come to speak to students at my classes and was also an inspiring alum speaker at a recent graduation. His story motivates others students to believe in their dreams. It makes a huge difference for them to hear a story from someone like Brett, who has been where they were and is now where they want to be!”  

Brett’s advice to anyone considering BankWork$ or CareerWork$ Medical is to figure out if it will help you reach your career goals. “The instructors will help you define your goals and figure out if it’s a good fit. There’s much to learn and gain from that class besides just banking,” said Brett. 

Click here to learn more about Brett.  

No college degree is required to attend BankWork$, to learn more about specific-program requirements, click here. 

Click here to learn more about BankWork$, our partnership with Goodwill of Colorado, or to sign up for an upcoming class. 

Jatia Hall Found Success in a New Industry Thanks to BankWork$

After working as a pharmacy technician for six years, Jatia Hall wanted to pursue a new opportunity. She learned about BankWork$ at Philadelphia OIC and was extremely interested upon learning that all graduates get interviews with companies hiring immediately. With no prior experience in banking, she knew pursuing an entirely different career would be challenging, but applied for the program and has never looked back.    

“At that point in my career, my only background was in medical customer service,” said Jatia. “I knew that good customer service skills could transfer into the financial services industry, but I didn’t know anything about banking itself. I also knew that finding a new pharmaceutical role would be easier, but I wanted to try something different and exciting.”     

Jatia attended Shantelle Faison’s BanKWork$ class at Philadelphia OIC. “Shantelle taught me how to be as professional as possible in the workplace. I would have never thought about standing up to shake hands if she hadn’t shown me. She also taught me to dress for the position I want, not where I currently am. I still use her teachings daily, and I’m grateful to have her as part of my support system,” Jatia said.    

After graduating from BankWork$ in May 2019, Jatia interviewed with multiple financial institutions at the hiring fair that immediately follows any BankWork$ or CareerWork$ Medical graduation ceremony. “On graduation day, I loved how you’re able to connect with recruiters from all types of places,” said Jatia. Shortly after graduating, she enthusiastically accepted an offer for a teller role at TD Bank.

After two years at TD Bank, in 2021 Jatia was promoted to her current role of Customer Experience Coordinator, thanks to her consistently excellent customer feedback. She provides customer services, including opening accounts, teller operations, building bank relationships, and mentoring new tellers. She feels appreciated on her team. “I can help things run smoothly on busy days,” said Jatia. “I love helping people, and when customers appreciate my service, it warms my heart. It’s the most rewarding feeling.”    

Jatia is enjoying her career at TD Bank and making a difference in her community. As she looks ahead, she wants to go into either a Finacial Advisor or Financial Service Representative role.     

“When I was in BankWork$, I had such a great introduction to this industry. Shantelle continues to be a resource and friend, and everyone at Philadelphia OIC wanted me to succeed. My advice for anyone considering BankWork$ is to never limit yourself and stay vigilant. I knew nothing about banking before applying, and now I oversee tellers every day. If you have the drive to succeed, you have all the opportunities you could need.”  

Click here to learn more about BankWork$, our partnership with Philadelphia OIC, or to sign up for an upcoming class.  

Thanks to BankWork$, Andrew Wilson’s Career at Columbia Bank Has Continued to Thrive for Over Five Years

After graduating high school in 2017, Andrew Wilson—like so many—knew he needed to work but wasn’t sure what he wanted to do professionally. A friend had recently graduated from BankWork$ at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish and, after seeing Andrew’s discouragement following multiple rejections for lack of experience, pushed Andrew to consider BankWork$.  

Andrew was primarily drawn to the general career preparation that BankWork$ provides. “When I started BankWork$, I didn’t know what to expect,” says Andrew. “My instructor helped me learn to be detail-oriented and focused. She understood that I needed to learn the basics of banking, and we started there. One day in class, we did an exercise where we pretended to be tellers. While I was doing a transaction, my fellow teller got robbed—nobody noticed. It helped me learn to be aware of many different things around me.”  

Mercedes Rippel, Andrew’s BankWork$ Instructor, continued to stay in contact with him after graduation and still offers her support today. “When I first met Andrew, he was timid and unsure of himself,” says Mercedes. “Once I interviewed him, I knew he would make an excellent Banker! Here we are today, and I could not be prouder of his success!”  

Upon graduating from BankWork$, Andrew, like all graduates, attended a hiring fair where he interviewed with local financial institutions. He accepted an offer as a Backup Teller at Columbia Bank. Through diligent work and excellent customer service, he was promoted to a Full-Time Teller within a year.   

Now, five years after graduating from BankWork$, he has been promoted to Exceptions Officer; he helps customers check for corrections daily and ensures deposits go to their correct accounts. He loves advancing his career at Columbia Bank. 

“My family has always supported me and knew I would find a successful career. I have that now at Columbia Bank. I enjoy my role and want to stay with Columbia for a long time,” said Andrew.

“Before BankWork$, I had trouble finding any job. I didn’t know how to present myself, and I had terrible confidence, but the program taught me the fundamental skillset of banking and changed my mindset around my self-worth. Many of us in the class were in tough spots, but we all had a supportive mentality. It was an extremely welcoming and encouraging environment. Had I not stuck around, I’d be completely different.”   

Columbia Bank is a proud employer partner in Seattle, South Puget Sound, and Portland with our partners YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish, Career Path Services, and SE Works respectively, with a robust history of hiring BankWork$ grads. Like Andrew, graduates across the country continue to thrive in new careers thanks to BankWork$.  

Click here to learn more about BankWork$ and our partnership with YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish.