U.S. Bank provides volunteers and job opportunities through the San Francisco LGBT Center.
For Marcus Almeida, being his authentic self meant it was time to leave his home country and restart his life in a safer, more welcoming place.
“I had to leave,” shared Almeida as he reflects on his journey from South America to becoming a Client Relationship Consultant at the U.S. Bank Castro branch in San Francisco.
At the age of 29, Almeida left behind a career in marketing Brazil’s famed Carnival to come to the United States. Arriving knowing little English, he immediately focused on studying and learning the language. He started working as a gig worker driving for Uber, so he could make money to support himself and practice his English skills.
Along the way, he began connecting with a number of LGBTQ+-centered nonprofits, including the San Francisco LGBT Center. He had recently started working a job in sales, but wanted to find a career path with more growth opportunities and a workplace where his identity would be welcomed, and celebrated.
Almeida began joining the center’s drop-in job club, a weekly volunteer-supported virtual workshop where job seekers can obtain professional advice on resumes, LinkedIn and interview preparation. It was here, that Almeida learned about U.S. Bank. U.S. Bank employees from across the Bay Area have been volunteering their time to the San Francisco LGBT Center’s Job Club almost weekly since 2016.
Through the job club, Almeida learned about open positions at U.S. Bank and was encouraged to apply. With job club volunteers by his side during the interview process to encourage and support him, he was hired in May 2021 as a Client Relationship Consultant at the Castro branch in the vibrant Castro neighborhood in San Francisco, known for its LGBTQ+ history and being home to gay rights activist Harvey Milk. The branch is one of four U.S. Bank LGBTQ+ flagship locations across the country. This month, the branch will celebrate it’s re-grand opening following an extensive remodel, which will include a $2,500 donation to the San Francisco LBGT Center and $2,500 donation to the Transgender District as part of its weeklong celebration.
“Now I work one block away from the Harvey Milk house,” Almeida shared. “It’s quite nice to be here… it’s an amazing place where I can fit in.”
Drew Lakhardt, employment services manager for the San Francisco LGBT Center says they’ve seen an increase in demand for the job club within the last 12 months. The club relies on volunteers from companies like U.S. Bank to help job seekers with interview skills, networking skills, using LinkedIn for job hunting and more.
“There are a lot of people who are looking to shift careers or are looking for a more inclusive environment and they need help finding that,” Lakhardt shared. “The impact is really important… the amount of people we have seen come though and then find employment afterwards and have more clarity on what they want out their employment – that’s why we’re doing it.”
The center’s job club was also instrumental in helping Vivian Sobarzo, start a new chapter in her career. Sobarzo worked as a teller in college, but went on to work as a legal assistant in San Francisco. She returned to school to earn her masters degree before helping her friend grow a small electronics startup for over 10 years. After that company restructured, she was laid off.
“During COVID, I worked with a therapist who heard about a job fair at the San Francisco LGBT Center. She encouraged me to check it out. So I went for it,” she shared.
After attending the virtual job fair hosted by the center’s employment services team and working directly with Lakhardt as her career counselor, Sobarzo joined U.S. Bank in September as a Client Relationship Consultant at the Willow Pass branch in Concord, Calif.
“All types of people are encouraged to be here – you see everyone represented here in the workforce, and the clientele,” she shared when asked about her experience eight months into her role. “We walk the talk, we have representation of people here, it feels inclusive.”
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