GWIM Entry Operations Representative at Bank of America

Year Up Jacksonville

Michel Ruel, Jr.Class of January 2016

I suffered from epilepsy at an early age. I had hundreds of petit mal seizures every day, losing hours of my life. This made it extremely difficult to learn in a classroom setting. Even after treatment helped me avoid further seizures, I struggled academically and professionally. I meandered through life with no goals or motivation. Before Year Up, I had no idea what my true passion was, and I certainly never thought I’d be a leader.

I attended a Year Up information session not knowing what to expect. I was intrigued by the opportunity the program promised, and I decided to apply on the spot.

During training, I learned a lot about business and finance, but more importantly, I learned about myself and my potential. Growing up, I was homeschooled for a number of years—as a result, I was shy and hadn’t fully developed socially. At first, interacting with other people was a struggle. With the help of my classmates and Year Up’s judgment-free atmosphere, I was able to face my social anxieties head-on and grow immensely.

I began my internship at Bank of America prepared with a drive I’d never had before and a host of skills I’d learned in training. I learned everything I could about where I could add value on my team, and I worked on vital processes and projects that improved the business and increased efficiency. I also helped with the company’s “Light the Night” campaign, benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Toward the end of my internship, a job opportunity opened up, and I did something I never would have done before Year Up. I took a chance, put my resume and cover letter together, sent them to my manager, and networked with an HR employee I met at a Year Up event. I got the job.

My internship experience taught me to never stop learning and to be open to new possibilities. In order to take advantage of opportunities, you need to be present. You never know when a big project may come your way, and if you’re not there to tackle it, that opportunity goes to the next person.

I love my job at Bank of America because I get to solve current problems and set up systems to avoid future problems. Before Year Up, I had no direction. Now, I have a five-year professional and educational plan, and I’ve been able to set and reach important life goals. One of those goals was to buy a house within a year of graduating from Year Up. I’m happy to say that I’m now a proud homeowner, and on track to achieve my next goal.

Since 2001, Bank of America has invested $4 million in Year Up to help close the Opportunity Divide for young people by connecting them to education and hands-on skills through apprenticeships. The company has hosted more than 400 Year Up interns within its lines of business and hired 145 Year Up graduates into full-time jobs.