Volunteering & Giving
July 23, 2015

A little training, and Goodwill, go a long way for job hunters

Using a focused curriculum, a Goodwill Easter Seals program in Minnesota has found success, and jobs, for prospective financial services employees.

Winchell Sherman came to the U.S. from Liberia in 2000 to attend college and moved back to Africa in 2007. Upon returning to the U.S. in 2013, he looked for an opportunity in financial services but was unsuccessful.

Then, after he was laid off from a sales job last September, he applied and was accepted into an eight-week banking and finance training program offered by Goodwill Easter Seals Minnesota. The curriculum covers customer service, basic terminology, regulations, fraud prevention, confidentiality, sales, and more.

“The intent is to train people in a short amount of time for entry-level teller, clerk, customer service, processing, and other similar positions that lead to significant career advancement opportunities,” says Becky Brink of Goodwill Easter Seals Minnesota. “Our goal is to be responsive to individual and community need for workforce training, such as those who are new to the U.S. or have other barriers to employment.”

Today Winchell is a personal banker at Wells Fargo’s Maple Grove store, which is north of Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Winchell says, “In addition to learning some of the basics, the Goodwill program included mock interviews, where we learned about the importance of doing research beforehand and asking thoughtful questions. It paid off!”

Wells Fargo is the No. 1 financial services employer for hiring from the Goodwill program, according to Wells Fargo’s Philomena Morrissey Satre.

Working with nonprofits

Philomena has worked with Goodwill for 17 years — serving on the Banking and Finance Advisory Board and teaching quarterly career workshops. She says it’s “critically important for Wells Fargo to be involved with nonprofits like Goodwill, because these relationships make a difference for individuals from the under-resourced community.”

Recruiters also work with other nonprofits across the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, says Philomena, to help find, interview, and hire team members. “We’re able to reach candidates by working closely with nonprofits to bridge the gap between an applicant and Wells Fargo.”

Jane Gauthier, a recruiter for Wells Fargo’s Community Banking group, conducts mock interviews each quarter with Goodwill Easter Seals Minnesota. “Goodwill does such a great job of training people who are often recent immigrants or don’t have the exact skills for a banking job without additional training — but who are eager to learn what it takes to become a team member.”

Working with the nonprofits also gives Wells Fargo recruiters insight into what’s going on in the community: barriers that candidates face, new immigration trends, and general cultural awareness.

Training for an opportunity

Goodwill offers its course five times a year, and each course has 12 students. Becky says the graduation rate is 90 percent and the placement rate is 91 percent. “We want people to understand that banking is a great industry for opportunity,” she says.

Becky says Goodwill focuses its training on “employment readiness” — such as the expectations in a bank environment, interacting with customers and fellow team members, and even what to wear to work.

Goodwill also has a placement staff, which assists graduates and understands what the financial industry needs from candidates.

Part of the success of the program is the reciprocal feedback between Wells Fargo and Goodwill Easter Seals: “We’re always in contact to adapt the training,” says Becky.

Jane says, “It really warms my heart when we’re able to find the right team member who may have felt a little lost when they enrolled in the Goodwill program, but then they find a home at Wells Fargo.”