Graduate Spotlight: Vanessa Spinks

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this spotlight appeared in the Spring 2021 edition of “Banking Matters,” a quarterly publication of our partner, the Oregon Bankers Association. Click here to learn more. 

Since graduating from high school in 2016, Vanessa Spinks has worn a lot of hats and worked many different jobs: auto detailing, a berry farm, a department store, a warehouse, and a fish processing plant.  

Soon, though, she was ready for something else. As she puts it, she was eager for her first “adult job.” 

That’s where BankWork$® comes in. After learning about the program, Vanessa signed up for the course with our Portland, Oregon-area partner, SE Works 

“I didn’t feel like I would do well in college right away,” said Spinks. “I felt BankWork$ would help me with my education and career.”’ 

In 2017, she completed our free, comprehensive, eight-week training. It wasn’t long before Vanessa launched her career in financial services. In her first roles, she worked as a teller, a vault teller, and a merchant teller.  

Today, Vanessa is flourishing in her financial services career with our founding partner, Wells Fargo, as an Escalated Complaint Specialist in their credit card department. Vanessa says her BankWork$ Instructors and Career Navigators were essential in helping her launch her career.  

“The staff members have supported me from the beginning and even now. I feel I can lean on them if I need it,” says Vanessa. “They gave me lasting connections with people with whom I wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to meet. Most of my LinkedIn contacts are BankWork$-related.” 

For employers in Oregon’s financial services industry and beyond, with the support of Worksystems, the Portland Workforce Board, and the Oregon Bankers Association, BankWork$ is helping meet the call for talent that reflects the communities they serve. 

“BankWork$ fills an important need for both banks and those looking to ready themselves for a career in the profession,” says Linda Navarro, President and CEO of the Oregon Bankers Association, which sponsors the BankWork$ programs with SE Works. “We in the banking industry often focus on college-level recruitment, but so many positions in banks don’t require a degree. Banks can benefit by attracting job-ready, diverse and motivated candidates who are trained in the basics of banking and ready to take on a new, professional challenge. This is exactly what BankWork$ provides.” 

In the four years since she graduated from BankWork$, Vanessa continues to build her ties to the program. She has been also a guest graduate speaker at BankWork$ graduations. She’s even helped interview some BankWork$ graduates for roles with her employer. 

“There are so many people who have never been given access to a career in financial services,” says Sherry Cromett, President of CareerWork$®, a national nonprofit that operates BankWork$ and other career-readiness programs. “BankWork$ opens a door for those who might otherwise not have known they could be successful in a banking career.” 

Today, Vanessa says she’s excited to be in a role where she can grow roots and start a long-term career.  

“It has worked out great,” said Spinks. “I give 100 percent of the credit to BankWork$. I love this program so much.” 

Learn more about BankWork$’s partnership with SE Works and upcoming classes here