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Forging Success: Wells Fargo’s Partnership with JVS SoCal

Gonzalo with recent graduates Paul and Rosalinda at Wells Fargo, South Westlake Branch in Los Angeles

Gonzalo Aguilar, Jr., manager of Wells Fargo’s Westlake South Branch in Los Angeles, recently posted about his most recent hires on LinkedIn.

“Please join me in welcoming Paul and Rosalinda to our amazing team.”

The post includes a photo of him posing with two graduates of JVS SoCal’s BankWork$ program. This is not the first time Gonzalo has hired BankWork$ alumni. In fact, he often returns to JVS SoCal job fairs and networking events where he knows he will meet quality candidates.

“When I have an open position, I will talk to our recruiting team and tell them that I would prefer if we can select a BankWork$ candidate,” says Gonzalo, “That’s because I don’t have to work as hard in training them.”

Gonzalo knows this because he is a BankWork$ graduate himself. This free training not only prepares participants to enter the banking world, but it also helps and coaches them to shine in their jobs. The program is a joint initiative between JVS SoCal with The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation.

Mario Holten, Wells Fargo Vice President of Community Impact for the Southern California Region, agrees.

“Simply put, they’re polished,” says Mario, who also serves on the JVS SoCal Board of Directors, says that he can tell JVS SoCal graduates have considerable practice in handling the technical aspects of the job as well as the human skills.

Born and raised in East Oakland, Mario knows how hard it is to move past generational challenges and the need to take advantage of all the opportunities available. His own experience rising within the financial industry has given him enough reasons to empathize and connect with other driven up-and-comers.

Banking institutions like Wells Fargo value the qualities that Gonzalo and other JVS SoCal program participants represent as part of the bank’s larger plan to support the communities in which they serve.

For job seekers, the advantages of employment in the banking industry justify the commitment to an intensive course. From benefits like healthcare coverage to parental leave, Holton believes that the effort pays off.

“When students complete the Bankwork$ program, they are aware of what they are getting into” says Mario, “They know what they need to do to be successful.”

From the ground up

When Gonzalo started the course, Wells Fargo was a top choice in his list of employment prospects. “I took advantage of everything that I learned from BankWork$ and applied it.” He interviewed with them soon after graduation and received an offer.

For Mario, completing the program itself adds value to any candidate. “We know that when they have been showing up day in and day out, they’re hungry for it,” he says. “Coming from the area that I came from growing up, whenever I got an opportunity, I was always ready to take advantage of it.”

Gonzalo benefited from the BankWork$ program being free of cost and what it taught him.“That puts the ease of not having to pay for training and really focus on the materials and really devote 100 percent effort to graduating and landing a job. This is why I also like to give back to the program.”

The initiative was so successful that it expanded to reach other communities as
CareerWork$ through funding from The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation. This
also offers access to other vocational programs, including CareerWork$ Medical,
another course that JVS SoCal offers.

Presently, BankWork$ is available for participants in under-resourced communities across the
United States.

“We see the Los Angeles team, JVS SoCal, as the original provider, the long-term provider,” says
Ranko Fukuda, Managing Director of CareerWork$. “I rely on this team a lot not just to do great
things in Los Angeles, but to be the anchor program across the country.”

Fukuda says that BankWork$ in Los Angeles is the gold standard. “The program has always been
run very well and lots of great innovations have come from the JVS SoCal team,” says Fukuda.
Although many other banking institutions play an important role in championing BankWork$,
Wells Fargo’s partnership with JVS SoCal remains solid through our commitment to bring hope
and opportunity to the community.

The Wells Fargo-JVS SoCal partnership has transcended BankWork$ thanks to Mario. Together
with Randy Lapin, Senior Vice President of Philanthropy at JVS SoCal, they developed a visionary
initiative to refer trainees in the agency’s apartment maintenance program to apply and fill
positions offered by the bank’s developer partners.

“We were actually able to get some of the developers we work with to hire some of the people
from ApartmentWorks,” recounts Mario. “Those connections are really good because I feel like
both organizations, Wells Fargo and JVS SoCal, are really aligned on what their goals that are in
their mission for serving the community.”

Gonzalo continues to share his accomplishments and experiences with other
BankWork$ students at recruitment events and graduations. He has hired five of the 34
program graduates who have gone on to work for Wells Fargo.

“As an alumnus, I’m really grateful that I am here, and for the skill set that we all learned from
BankWork$, which we apply to this day.”

As for his future, he has set himself new goals, aspiring to earn a position at a district level
where he can continue to share his knowledge and experience with others.

If you’d like to help others achieve the same level of success as Gonzalo, please consider donating.