The Colorado Banker - January/February 2019

10 O V E R A C E N T U R Y : B U I L D I N G B E T T E R B A N K S - H E L P I N G C O L O R A D A N S R E A L I Z E D R E A M S FEATURE ARTICLE The program culminates in a graduation ceremony and hiring fair where graduates are interviewed on the spot for open retail banking positions at local banks. BY JESSICA HUDGINS SMITH S hortly after immigrating to the United States, Azza Ahmed found herself at a BankWork$™ graduation ceremony in Denver supporting her sister-in-law. By the end of the event, Azza was ready to submit her own BankWork$ application. A singlemother of three young children, Azza moved to Colorado from the Middle East to provide a better future for herself and her kids. Little did she know how difficult it would be to get a job in the U.S. Azza had ten years of banking experience with HSBC Bank Middle East—a widely rep- resented international bank in the region—but was turned down again and again for the jobs she applied to in the states. Her proficiency in her home country didn’t translate to the U.S. banking system. Being new and unfamiliar with the Denver area, Azza also lacked a professional network to advance her job search. That’s where BankWork$ closed the gap. BankWork$™ is a free eight-week training program facilitated by Goodwill Industries of Denver that prepares individuals with barriers to employment—typically those who are unem- ployed or underemployed in low-income and minority communities—for careers in the finan- cial services industry. The program culminates in a graduation ceremony and hiring fair where graduates are interviewed on the spot for open retail banking positions at local banks. “The common phrase that when a window closes, a door opens, best describes my expe- rience in the BankWork$ program,” said Azza. “BankWork$ was my doorway to opportunity and success. I gained valuable industry knowl- edge, skills and developed a professional net- work with some of the best banks in the nation.” Azza graduated from the BankWork$ program in November 2017. She received several job offers and accepted a position as a Senior Service Of- ficer at Bank of the West. She is now on the fast track to becoming a branch manager. “BankWork$ graduates demonstrate a re- markable drive and commitment to a career in Graduate of Goodwill-Facilitated BankWork$™ Program Pays It Forward as She Finds Success at Bank Of the West

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