What are three words you hope people will use to describe you when you’re not in the room?
This was just one of many topics discussed in the Canal Alliance conference room on the evening of December 5, 2023, when Bank of America staffers and students in our newest workforce development program, Latinos in Finance, gathered for a session focused on job interview preparedness. Additional topics included resume writing, how to tell stories that illustrate who you are in just a few minutes, and what types of questions to expect.
The Latinos in Finance (LiF) workforce development initiative was created by UnidosUS and Bank of America to provide specialized skills needed for bilingual participants to attain careers in the financial industry for their own professional advancement. Launched locally in fall 2023, the eight-week training program offered in partnership with College of Marin and Bank of America prepares graduates for such roles, in positions that offer living wages, benefits, medical insurance, reliability, and financial security.
Enrollment in the Latinos in Finance program is free, and our staff works tirelessly to remove additional obstacles that our students encounter along the way, such as childcare needs, transportation, professional attire, and rental assistance to cover wages lost while enrolled in the program. Students receive digital literacy education, resume writing support, and as on December 5, interview preparation coaching. Support does not end there; after graduating, Canal Alliance case managers continue to play a supportive role, providing guidance with career navigation, job placement and more.
In addition to building pathways to lasting career opportunities and helping financial services companies hire more linguistically and culturally competent talent locally, the Latinos in Finance program’s participants can also help educate Latino populations unfamiliar with the US banking system, such as unbanked households where no one in the household has a checking or savings account at a bank or credit union.
Franccesca Santana, Canal Alliance Workforce Service Supervisor, who is overseeing the success of the first cohort of students, ended the interview prep gathering with some words of encouragement.
“Don’t let fear stop you from trying. I worked in a bank for 17 years, and I had the same fears you have now. The years I worked in a bank were incredible, I learned so much and my coworkers became family. My role in a bank offered stability and so many benefits. So, whether you are nervous about your English skills, interacting with customers, or handling money as a teller, Canal Alliance is here to make sure you succeed, and so is the team at Bank of America.”
Bank of America staffers underscored Franccesca’s message, sharing personal stories of how they too began as tellers or greeters and quickly climbed the ranks at Bank of America, an organization they describe as a meritocracy.
“If you’re good with people, a good communicator in English or Spanish, and love to learn, then you will very likely do well in our organization, especially having participated in the Canal Alliance’s Latinos in Finance program,” said Mary Ayson of the San Rafael Main Bank of America branch. “Bank of America proudly serves over 13 million Latino clients nationwide, and over half of our branches have bilingual employees to support these diverse clients.”