TACOMA, Wash. – Crisply dressed in blazers and loafers, it was hard to tell the latest cohort of BankWork$ graduates apart from the banking officials who were there to interview them.

On Nov. 1, Career Path Services’ first class of BankWork$ graduates walked across the stage at the Donald G. Topping Regional HOPE Center in Tacoma as their families smiled and snapped pictures. Minutes later, they interviewed for what could become their first jobs in the banking world.

One graduate didn’t have to interview on Thursday — Olesia Sbitnev of Puyallup had already landed a job with U.S. Bank shortly before graduating from the eight-week program.

Sbitnev was working two jobs in bookkeeping before she found out about BankWork$ and enrolled. She had been interested in a career in banking and had applied to several banks before, but was never offered a job.

She credits her sudden success to the interviewing skills she learned through the BankWork$ program.

“I would recommend it to everyone, it points you in the right direction and I like that it prepared me for the interviews and it gave me a lot of really good information so that I would be successful in the interviews,” Sbitnev said.

“It really got me prepared. I’m just really thankful that it’s here. I really feel like it got my foot in the door, because I have applied before and I hadn’t gotten any job offers before the program.”

Founded in 2006 by Les Biller, former Chief Operating Officer at Wells Fargo, BankWork$ is an intensive, eight-week training program that prepares and supports individuals for entry into the financial sector in high-turnover, entry-level positions such as teller, customer service representative, and personal banker. BankWork$ not only addresses the talent shortage that financial institutions continue to experience, but also provides Pierce County residents an opportunity to gain skills that will put them on the path to a meaningful career.  The program offers full scholarships to interested Pierce County residents.

On behalf of the Pierce County Workforce Development Council (WDC), WorkForce Central provides funding that is leveraged with private funding to bring the program into Pierce County, now for the second year.

“BankWork$ is a public and private solution that provides our local financial institutions with work-ready talent and provides local residents with a path to a meaningful careers” said Linda Nguyen, WorkForce Central CEO.

WorkForce Central strengthens the Pierce County economy by identifying skill gaps between jobseekers and employment opportunities, fostering data-driven decision making, and connecting workforce development partners into a cohesive, collaborative and effective network.