JVS Congratulates Latest BankWork$™ Graduates

August 1, 2012 -- A new group of qualified and employment-ready bank tellers met a roomful of recruiters Wednesday as JVS recognized the latest graduates of its award-winning BankWork$™ program.

The 26 graduates of the eight-week training program included a military brat, two sisters taking the training together, immigrants from Russia and Haiti and two people who successfully emerged from the foster care system. Several of the graduates are bilingual and many of them have sales and/or cash handling experience with companies ranging from AT&T to Jack in the Box, from Pacific Park at the Santa Monica Pier to Bank of America. One of the graduates, Jacqueline Washington, was even a former sprinter who was an alternate during the 1984 Summer Olympic Games. 

Many of them have overcome personal or financial struggles including illness, broken homes and in several cases, multiple layoffs as a result of the recession.

 All of the BankWork$™ graduates, program administrators insisted, will be assets to whatever banks or financial institutions are smart enough to hire them.

“You are our Olympic champions,” JVS COO Claudia Finkel told the graduates who completed their training in Los Angeles during the height of the 2012 summer games in London. “You have taken great risks and challenges and you represent your communities as stars.”

The six-week BankWork$™ program trains individuals, ages 18 years old and older, for positions as bank tellers as a first step on the career ladder in the financial services industry. In addition to training, the program includes job placement assistance and ongoing coaching for career advancement.

Getting through the program is no small achievement. Program administrators Lisa Meadows and Maria Zuniga hold trainees to rigorous standards of attendance, professionalism and preparation. Considering the number of people who dropped out of his class, alumni Kevin Andrews, who graduated from a BankWork$™ session in the summer of 2011, compared the training program to an episode of TV’s “Survivor.”

But however grueling BankWork$™ training was, the results were well worth it, Andrews added.

“The program taught me so many important things professionally,” said Andrews who landed a job at Union Bank two weeks after he finished BankWork$™. “It’s all about sales and customer service and JVS really nails those two things.”

Graduate Eva Sargent-Alvarez knows all about overcoming challenges. Sargent-Alvarez was raised in nine different foster homes and had experienced homelessness. She was working part-time for the Los Angeles Unified School District when she was referred to JVS through First Place for Youth (FPY), a nonprofit organization that provides affordable housing and supportive services to former foster youth. Monica Garcia, FPY Education Employment Specialist, who referred her to the program and serves as her mentor, attended the graduation  

“I sacrificed a lot,” Sargent-Alvarez said, as a proud Garcia looked on. “I have a 2-year-old daughter and her father had to keep her. It was a challenging and demanding program but after the first four weeks, it got easier.”

After receiving their certificates of completion, the 26 graduates interviewed with reruiters from BankWork$™ partnering financial institutions including Bank of America, Citibank, City National Bank, Continental Currency, Pacific Western Bank, US Bank, Union Bank, Wells Fargo, First Entertainment Credit Union and One West Bank.

At the event, JVS welcomed and thanked its newest BankWork$™ financial partner Cathay Bank represented by VP, Recruiting Manager Mickey Hsu. Cathay Bank recently donated $10,000 toward the program.

 “We’re looking forward to a successful partnership with JVS in the very near future,” said Hsu.

JVS is currently recruiting for trainees for its upcoming BankWork$™ training sessions both at The Expo Center near downtown LA and in the San Fernando Valley. The program is free, but applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, speak and write English, have basic computer skills and have no adult felony convictions.

To request an application or for more information, contact Lisa Meadows at (310) 273-6633, ext. 241.