I'm 20 years old. I've always traveled all around Houston. I was born on the southwest side. Raised in the Third Ward until middle school, did a little bit of seventh and eighth grade in Albright on the southwest side, and then in high school I was on the east side, which is North Shore.
My family, we kind of have our tight-knit family between my mom, my brother and my grandmother. Everybody else was distant.
[In high school] I was more focused about learning to get myself to go to college. Both of my parents went to college, but my mom didn't know how to sign up for school and she didn't know how to tell me to get scholarships and stuff like that. But I ended up going to college because AP classes made my GPA 3.2, which allowed me to be part of the first quartile. So I was able to go to Texas State with a bunch of Pell Grants.
It was an awesome time at Texas State, but I didn't graduate because I started to get a lot of social anxiety. I started to get unmotivated. So when I came home, I went to [San Jacinto Community College], and then my life kind of changed when me and my girlfriend had a child. When she was pregnant, that's when I started to realize that I need to start making money. And when my mom finally found out that my girlfriend was pregnant, she either wanted me to go into the military or move out. I decided to move out because I didn't want to miss my kid's childhood by going to the military. I did apprentice electrician work. I didn't last long because I didn't like bruising my fingers and falling off ladders, and all the hard work of getting fiberglass in your arms, But even if that didn't last, it showed me how to be on time, be prepared, work hard, go through terrible conditions and withstand it, and be strong.
I had been living on my own for a year, and I broke my lease to go live with my dad while I was still working at Costco selling DirecTV. I was only supposed to be at my dad's for two weeks, and I was going to move out to Memphis. But then I got fired. I was at my dad's house, and my dad kinda didn't want me to be there. It devastated me. I didn't know what to do.
I went searching. I was doing all kinds of stuff, and none of it was really working. My grandma, she sent me this email, saying 'hey, you can check [BankWork$] out, it's right up your alley,' because when I went to college I was going to college for finance. So she said 'this is almost like an internship.'
So I called Ms. Erica [Tirado, SER Workforce Development Lead], and I asked her a bunch of questions. She told me about the orientation day where I can learn more about how I can get myself in the class. I did the interview, and when I came out, it was as if I had gotten a job. That's how big the interview was for me.
My favorite part [of the BankWork$ program] was meeting all these people who come from different avenues of life. Because I've met young people, older people, veterans. Learning what they've been through and realizing that hey, maybe you can do this. Because in the class, I started to feel doubt in my head, thinking maybe I might not get picked as a candidate. Yes, I was selling, but I didn’t deal with cash, I didn’t deal with accounts, and I was just selling you DirecTV. So I didn't feel like I was going to fit in. But meeting all these people and seeing how they felt made me feel that we're all on the same boat. And we're all here to pick each other up and help each other.
On graduation day, I had my first interview with Capital One. And Melissa [Johnson, Capital One Sr. District Manager/Sr. Director], when I walked in, she said hello, shook my hand, and knew my name without me telling her. I sat down for the interview and expressed how I really wanted to be a part of a company that was going to be long-lasting and have a career, instead of these other jobs that I've had at Fuddruckers, Domino's, Academy, Shoe Carnival, you know, these jobs that pay you minimum wage, or just a little over minimum wage and they don't really help you, and they don't really last long because you can't really create a career out of it.
[A few days later] I was hanging out with my friends, and this 210 number calls me. I thought it was a friend's number, and I thought he was pocket-dialing me. But as soon as I said 'hello, this is Jafar,' a really sweet lady's voice came on the phone and said 'hi, I'm looking for Jafar, this is a recruiter for Capital One. I wanted to know if you're still interested in the opening' and I freaked out. My body started to get really, really numb. And that's how I got told that I got accepted for Capital One. I just couldn't believe it.
I start on January 3rd.
The way BankWork$ has changed my life, it's hard to describe. It's one of those things that I could go on, and on, about each individual person and what they have given me. I'm not talking about actual items, but advice. I felt like they turned me into this more professional person who is ready for the next step. I'm not gonna say I'm ready to just be great for that career, but I'm ready for the next step. It's a lot of information that they cram into your head for ten weeks that makes you feel like you're super prepared.
My goals are focused towards work. I really want to be good in my position. If somebody comes in, I [want to be able to] speak to them and tell them all this information without feeling scared or nervous, like I don't know what I'm talking about. [I also want] to move my family out of my dad's house. That way my son would have his own room and have his own space, and just give my son a lot of stuff. Just everything he needs as a baby. I want to save up a lot, get my finance degree out of the way, and help my girlfriend establish her own career. Whatever she wants to do, as long as she's progressing and is happy.
if you'd like to learn more about the BankWork$ program. Enrollment is currently underway for the next BankWork$ class, which starts on February 2017.