By Hannah Flanders
Adriene Wright not only brings more than 25 years of retail banking experience to her students, but she also mentors and supports them through the BankWork$ program and beyond. As an instructor in the program partnered with Employ Milwaukee, CareerWork$, and the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA), Wright is able to provide individuals the banking 101 entry-level training needed to fill positions with numerous partner banks.
Wright began her retail banking career as a teller and progressed to a learning and development instructor training new hires. Not only did this role prepare her for her transition to BankWork$ in terms of her retail banking abilities, but it gave her the opportunity to give back to her community and the industry.
“Through the [program’s] eight weeks of training, practice, coaching, and feedback, the students graduate with a clear knowledge of [the] expectations to be successful in banking,” says Wright. “This includes the topics of banking 101, professionalism, attendance, dress code, customer service, rapport, public speaking, technology, team building, sales skills, building relationships, resume building, and interviewing skills.”
Currently, the BankWork$ program in Wisconsin has 14 partner banks and growing interest throughout the state. This could potentially result in growing class sizes, more locations, and new partnerships. BankWork$ recruits from diverse communities with an emphasis on underserved, low-income, and unemployed individuals who are looking for the opportunities to grow and have a successful career. This means not only that these young adults bring “a fierce commitment and drive to never give up,” according to Wright, but their wide range of education, work experience, and languages introduce important factors of diversity and inclusion that align with banks’ missions.
Many BankWork$ graduates are successfully retained and often promoted from their entry-level positions to roles in supervision or management. When these individuals have the ability to provide for themselves and their families, they are able to begin imagining their future and setting goals.
Building confidence, banking knowledge, and providing students with both in-person and virtual skills is critical in ensuring that students feel prepared to put their talents into practice on their first day on the job. In their partnership with 13 other sites nationwide, Wright and her fellow BankWork$ instructors have the ability to make a substantial difference for employers with positions to fill. The role of BankWork$ instructors is unique and impactful in that they help employers, job seekers, and their communities.
Wright’s passion and experience in helping new hires become successful in the banking industry has touched the lives of many in the Milwaukee area. Beyond her compassion for her community, Wright aspires to prepare her students for a stable career and opportunities rather than just a job.